History of transport in the region
As late as the mid-17th century the best passage ways in North Karelia were water routes and winter roads. In those days there were no roads in summer. Not until the 18th century did the construction of the road network start. The road for delivering mail between Kuopio and Tohmajärvi was opened in 1781. When the number of roads increased, bridges to cross the rivers were built. Old wooden bridges have not remained until our days, but some stone bridges such as Koskenkorva (1903) in Vuokko, Juuka and the remains of the bridges (1870) across the Siikakoski Rapids in Kompero, Liperi have been preserved till modern times.
When even long journeys used to be made in carriages and sledges drawn by horses or on foot, country inns were needed for a day’s journey at a distance of every 20 km. For example, the country inn of Herranniemi at Vuonislahti, Lieksa, has been working since the beginning of the 1800s and still provides accommodation services cherishing traditions.
Mr. Nils Ludvig Arppe (1803 – 1861) was the key figure of the development of water transportation in the region. He constructed the first steamship in Finland – “Ilmarinen” in Puhos, Kitee in 1833. The introduction of steam power was revolutionary. Arppe also built the first canal lock of the River Pielisjoki in Utra, Joensuu. It was the first canal lock in the whole of Finland. The official decision to carry out rapids-dredging operations and canal construction in the River Pielisjoki was made in 1874. Five years later the new 60-km-long waterway with seven wooden and two stone locks was completed. Later the wooden locks were replaced by stone ones. For instance, the stone locks of the Jakokoski Canal Museum were completed in 1907. In addition to the Jakokoski Canal Museum you can get acquainted with the canals of the River Pielisjoki in the area of the Kaltimo Old Canal in Eno.
Ferryboat connections have given way to bridges in North-Karelia like everywhere in Finland. However, there are still two operating ferryboats left in North Karelia. You can go on a short 400- metre “cruise” by crossing the local waterways at Arvinsalmi in Rääkkylä and Hirvisalmi in Juuka.
The traffic connections in the east of Finland improved significantly by the end of the 19th century with the arrival of the railway between Imatra and Vyborg in 1892. The next year the railway reached Sortalava and Joensuu in 1894. The whole of Karelia was connected by rail when the railway reached Lieksa and Nurmes. Dozens of railway stations and houses for trackmen were also built. Some railway station environments have been conserved, such as the railway stations in Joensuu, Uimaharju, Viinijärvi and Nurmes, The rail gauge is almost the same as in Russia and thus differs from the gauge used in most Western European countries.
The first cars were imported to Finland in 1900 - a hundred years later their number was about 3 million. In Ylämylly, Liperi there are two car museums. The Car Museum of North Karelia was founded in 1979 and its oldest car dates from the year 1912. The Car Museum Myllyn vanhat autot will surprise a lot of visitors: its display consists of more than 200 vehicles, most of which are cars but there are also motorbikes, tractors and lorries. The large collection of automobile models also deserves special attention.