History of the towpath

The towpath is the history of barge dragons

The towpath – or Pramdragerstien – along the Gudenå River was created by barge traffic, which had its heyday in the second half of the 19th century when up to 200 barges transported goods between Silkeborg and Randers. The transport was done with flat-bottomed barges, so-called kåge, which could be loaded with up to 25 tons of paper, bricks, peat, lime, rope and the like. Against the current, from Randers towards Silkeborg, the barges were pulled by hired men – so-called barge pullers – who walked along the banks and pulled the barges with lines over their shoulders. From Bjerringbro, horses took over the work due to the strong current. In the opposite direction to the current, the water and wind helped the transport along. To steer the barge and provide extra speed, the barge dragons used long poles.

The towpath as a hiking route

Industrialization and new times

Barge traffic along the Gudenå River slowed down when the railroad came to Silkeborg in 1871. However, barge traffic continued until around 1920, when the new power plant, Tangeværket, became too big an obstacle with its damming of the river.

In several places you can experience cultural and historical traces of the barge dragon culture. The historic inns, such as Svostrup and Kongensbro, which are almost without exception located at important crossing points over the river; æ swot man, which is one of the poles used by the barge drivers to steer the barges in the river bends; a barge from the early 1900s located at the Energy Museum and the iron sculpture Pramdrageren created by artist Erik Heide in Langå.

But you can also experience other exciting cultural-historical sites such as Kjællinghøl ramparts and Tvilum Abbey Church from the Middle Ages, as well as Gudenåcentralen and the industrial-historical landscape around it.

Foto: Gudenåcentralen

Find experiences at Trækstien on the Gudenå map

Find the barge taverns, Æ Swot man, Tvilum Monastery, Høj Stene and other attractions at Trækstien on the Gudenå map
To the Gudenå map