25 photos
A romantic 19th century canal in one of the most idyllic parts of Holland. This canal was dug against the flow of water and of time. Water brought it to life, flowing from Nordhorn in Germany to the lower grounds of Almelo in Holland, where the digging had started in 1884 based on plans from the 1850s. Two hundred jobless farmhands and their families came in from the northern regions to live a hard life in houseboats and small settlements of huts. From the border German prisoners dug the connection to Nordhorn and the river Vecht. But before the canal was finished in 1904, time already had killed it's functionality. During the decades of delay, between first plans and final spade, wider and deeper canals had been dug in the region and boats had grown in size, too big for this brand new but humble waterway. Soon railways and paved roads sealed it's obsolecensce. Even in it's haydays it was sparsely used; in the peak year of 1912 less than 500 ships were counted, not even two per day. After 1940 traffic was gone and in 1961 the canal was pronounced closed. All locks but one were dismantled. Fixed barriers now regulated the flow of water, and this former industrial failure gradually turned into a flowering nature reserve that holds nearly 25% of all flora species in our country, including many rare ones.

Like the canal was dug against the flow of water and time, I walked it from Almelo to Nordhorn, going against the flow of my life, trying to recover some of the past, of times spent here...