Oranjekanaal - hotspots

The Oranjekanaal slices through Drenthe

It was an enormous undertaking in the middle of the nineteenth century: a canal right across Drenthe to carry peat from the southeast of the province to the main waterway – the Drentsche Hoofdvaart. The canal diggers had to clear a way right through the Hondsrug. Here at Schoonoord they had to cross the Rolde Ridge. The high canal  banks in the village show how much effort it cost them.

De hoge wal van het Oranjekanaal in Schoonoord
The high banks of the Oranjekanaal in Schoonoord (photo AO)

A brilliant failure

The Drentsche Veen- en Middenkanaal Company began to build the Oranjekanaal in 1852. In 1854 the canal diggers reached the spot in Schoonoord where their canal crosses the old route from Sleen to Rolde. This ancient way followed the high Rolde Ridge.


A few kilometers to the east, the company began to dig peat out of the Odoornerveen. The heavily laden peat barges passed regularly through Schoonoord. Early in the 20th century, when all the peat had been taken from the Odoornerveen, it became dreadfully quiet on the canal. The Oranjekanaal had proved to be a too-expensive detour to export peat from southeast Drenthe… it was a ‘brilliant failure’. Today the very quiet canal is a scenic spot.

Oude ansichtkaart met een turfschuit in het Oranjekanaal
Old picture postcard with barge in the Oranjekanaal

Location data

Bridge over the Oranjekanaal

Coordinates: 52°50’46.5″N 6°45’24.9″E