Mocăniţa - Logging in the Vaser Valley

Painting by G. Vlasin - Rafting in the Vaser River by G.Vlasin Mocăniţa - Last of the Carpathian Forestry Railways

18th century Logging – a need

Forests take up most of the land around Vișeu de Sus, the property of the Romanian nobles of Maramureș up until the 18th Century. Initially wood was used for their own needs, but with the extraction of salt deposits from Coștiui the need for timber increased, since the people of Vișeu were required to provide a large number of rafts annually for the Austrian State to transport salt on the River Tisa. The situation changed in 1777 when the land-owner nobles of Vișeu sold a significant area of forest in the Vaser Valley Basin to the Austrian tax authorities, specifically the forest between Cozia and the border with Moldova and Galicia, accounting for 33 thousand iugars. (1iugar / jugar: Old unit of area in Transylvania =0.577 hectares. Thus 33.000 jughers = 19.041 hectares,representing more than 50% of the land area ofthe Vaser Valley).

Macârlău dam at the start of the 19th Century (1910) by Unknown Mocăniţa - Last of the Carpathian Forestry Railways

19th century Logging – an organized activity

The next step taken by the Austrian authorities after acquiring the forest was to bring in settlers of German origin, mostly from the Zips region, in order to work the new resources belonging to the Austrian State. The settlers consolidated the banks of the Rivers Vaser and Novăț, building numerous dams and weirs, of which the most important and the only one left today is the Macârlău dam with a water volume of 172,000 cubic metres. Thus the principle means of timber transport in the Vaser Valley until the interwar period was rafting, 50,000 cubic metres of timber annually making their way to Hungary by this route.

Steam locomotive belonging to CAPS, interwar period (1950) by Official State Photography Mocăniţa - Last of the Carpathian Forestry Railways

20th century Logging – an industry

A milestone for logging in the Vaser Valley took place in 1929 when, following severe flooding, the Macârlău dam burst, leading to the construction of a forest railway coordinated by CAPS. - the State Forestry Administration. Four years later, the first section of some 32 km to Făina station was completed, the steam train becoming the only means of transport for timber, offering the same transport efficiency as it does today.

Mocăniţa - Logging in the Vaser Valley by CFF VISEU Mocăniţa - Last of the Carpathian Forestry Railways

Credits: Story

Association Wassertalbahn
Coordonater: Ioana Coman-Karlstetter
Photography and Editing: Daniel Andreica
Text: Tiberiu Andruşca
English Translation: Colin Shaw

Credits: All media
The story featured may in some cases have been created by an independent third party and may not always represent the views of the institutions, listed below, who have supplied the content.
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