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The Telemark Canal


The Telemark Canal connects the inland of county Telemark, Dalen in the west and Notodden in the east, with the county capital Skien and onwards to the sea at Frierfjorden by Porsgrunn city. Through a series of locks natural waterways are made navigable, the highest elevation of the canal being Dalen at the end of Lake Bandak, 72 meters above the sea. It is about a 105 km’s journey from the quay Hjellebrygga, Skien, which is traditionally held as the starting point, to Dalen. The canal was constructed to facilitate mail, person, goods and lumber transport along the waterway.

The canal can be divided into two parts, Skien-Nordsjø first, and first finished in 1861, with locks in Skien city (2-5 m) raising from the natural level of the river to Hjellevannet, by way of the river Farelva and  then with locks at Løveid raising 5 to 15m at lake Norsjø.

From Lake Norsjø, by way of the river Saua, Notodden, 16 m. at Lake Heddalsvatnet can be reached without more locks. Despite being all natural waterways this stretch is often dubbed the eastern canal.

Again, from Lake Norsjø, the second part of the Telemark canal, finished in 1889 and dubbed the eighth wonder of the world by contemporary travel guides, takes off westwards at Ulefoss town. It is raising in the Ulefoss locks( 16-26 m), following the Eidselva to the Eidsfoss locks, 27-37 m, a short stretch on to the impressive Vrangfoss locks, 37-60 m. From Vrangfoss the river is called Straumen, lit. ‘The Stream’, where you chug against the current up to Lake Nomevatn and onwards to the town Lunde with Lunde locks 60-63 m, still following Straumen, to Kjeldal locks, 63-66 m and shortly to Hogga locks, 66-72 m, which is the last lock. The waterway is following Straumen past Flåbygd village and into Lake Flåvatn, follows a stretch of river called Fjågesundstraumen, on to Lake Kviteseidvatnet. From Kviteseidvatnet the river is again called Strauman, linking up to the ultimate lake, Lake Bandak. The very end is at the town Dalen, with its fairy-tale romantic hotel making for a very scenic approach through the fjord like lake as it cuts into the mountainous landscape.

MS (motor ship) Henrik Ibsen was constructed in 1907 by Eriksbergs Mekaniska Verkstad in Göteborg, Sweden. The ship is 30.9 m long, 6.4 m wide and a gross tonnage of 186. Launched as ds Styrsø (ds: dampskip, steam ship), the ship was used in local passenger traffic in the Göteborg area. In 1952 the ship had its steam engine replaced with a diesel. The ship was grounded in 1972, leading to large repairs. It was sold to Norwegian ‘Turist Trafikk Dalen AS’ in 1992, refurbished and renamed to MS Henrik Ibsen. From 1993 on the ship was to travel the Telemark canal until it lost its certification in 2008. In 2009 it was sold to the owner of Dalen Hotel for a symbolic sum, the most expensive 1 kr. he ever have laid out as the 2010 repairs and refurbishment cost  approx. 20 mill. kr. (2 mill. euro). The ship was reinstated in passenger traffic on the Telemark canal, making sure the guests at the hotel could get an unforgettable journey through Telemark. MS Henrik Ibsen tm was registered as a trademark in 2015. The ship is often dubbed "the King of the Telemark Canal".


About the model: This model is made of two major parts, the lock and the ship MS Henrik Ibsen.

First, about the lock: Set on two 16*32 base plates, is made to resemble one lock chamber in the Telemark Canal, with a rise of 3 bricks. It comes with two lock guards who operate the sluice valves and rods in the lock gates, ensuring an even fill or emptying of the chamber. Of building challenges I’d say the lock gates are perhaps the most satisfying.

MS Henrik Ibsen is an attempt at a faithful scale model of the original ship, although I have taken some freedoms regarding the details to make it fit minifigures and have a decent LEGO aesthetic. It is built in three separate decks, to be stacked in the manner of floors in modular buildings. The hull shaping is done by thin hinge plates and bricks with studs on the side having plates w. bow and tiles on them. The bottommost deck contains the ship’s restaurant with ample seating for all passengers. The middle deck is the promenade deck, where passengers enter and disembark or find a nice spot to watch the stunning landscape. The topmost deck contains the bridge, with the captain at helm, a lifeboat, liferaft and three cycles being ferried upstream for the adventurous tourists, who probably has plans to bike their way back. The building challenge is the hull shaping, of which a certain degree of fiddliness is to be expected, but also very gratifying to get right. Six minifigures is included, the captain, a deckhand and four tourists.

The ship model is about 410 mm long, which gives it a scale of 1:75. The set is 1513 bricks in total, both lock and ship. It is modelled in lego digital designer with the standard palette, so hopefully all bricks used are available.


Sources and further reading:

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