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Iron Gates - Sip Canal



Most of these photographs come from http://orsova.xhost.ro/_sgg/f10000.htm, which has many superb historical photographs of Băile Herculane, Orsova and the Iron Gates area.





The Iron Gates are, in Romanian Porțile de Fier, in Serbian Gvozdena Vrata, also Djerdap.

"Gerdap", in Turkish, means a place dangerous for navigation, a whirlpool. The Djerdap gorge, which is some 100 kilometers long (from Golubac to Tekija), is actually a compound river valley made up of four gorges (Gornja klisura, Gospodjin vir, Veliki and Mali kazan and Sipska klisura)

The part of the Iron Gates gorge of the Danube River in which the canal was constructed, Sipska klisura, is 2 mi (3.2 km) long and 550 ft (170 m) wide, on the Serbian and Romanian border between Orşova and Drobeta-Turnu Severin. There the river narrows and swiftly flows through a gap between the Carpathian and Balkan mountains.

Near the town of Sip a large rock reef (called Perigrada) obstructed nearly the whole width of the river until the construction of the Sip Canal in 1896.

The Iron Gates, formerly an obstacle to shipping, was cleared of many rock obstructions in the 1860s; the Sip Canal (opened 1896) permitted large river craft to get past the gorge. The water gushed at eight meters per second, 15.6 knots, through the Sip Canal, two kilometers long and 80 metres wide. After the completion of the Djerdap dam in 1976, the canal constructed with such expense and labour is now 50 metres underwater.

The canal was part of a larger project to clear some 80 kilometres of the Iron Gates of rapids and shallows. The canal, designed in one report to be two hundred feet wide and ten feet deep, was cut through five dykes crossing the bed of the river.

Text above adapted from: http://www.infoplease.com/ce6/world/A0825502.html and http://www.britannica.com/ebc/article-9042801

iron gates
This photograph was labelled the "small" Iron Gates.

These rocks were a big obstacle to early navigation.

Photo: http://orsova.xhost.ro/_sgg/f10000.htm


iron gates
Iron Gates, listed variously as 1878 and 1883, etching. This is a copy, as an etching, of the photograph above.



Photo: http://search.stores.ebay.com/orsova


iron gates
This appears to be the upstream end of the canal before construction commenced, but after railway lines had been laid to the construction site.

Photo: http://orsova.xhost.ro/_sgg/f10000.htm


drill ship
Many drilling ships were needed to break up the rocks in other parts of the Iron Gates gorges, in shallow areas. These drilling holes were then filled with underwater explosives and the rock blasted apart. The spoil was then removed by dredges.

In the case of the canal, excavation and levelling was completed after the canal site was isolated from the river by levees.

Photo: http://orsova.xhost.ro/_sgg/f10000.htm


felsenbrecher
This is a Felsenbrecher, or stone breaker. The mechanism was used to break up rock formations on the floor of the river bed.

Photo: http://orsova.xhost.ro/_sgg/f10000.htm


bagger Vaskapus
This is a bagger, or dredge, called "Vaskapus", the Hungarian name for the Iron Gates. It was used to haul up the spoil from the floor of the river, using a conveyer belt. This would have been useful for smaller rocks, gravel and sand. It appears to have a flag flying with the name of the vessel.

Photo: http://orsova.xhost.ro/_sgg/f10000.htm


dredge
This much bigger dredge uses just a single bucket to remove larger rocks from the river bed.

It would seem that drilling ships and excavators were brought from around the world to help in this project. No two items of equipment are the same.

Photo: http://orsova.xhost.ro/_sgg/f10000.htm


French drilling ship
A French drilling ship.



Photo: http://orsova.xhost.ro/_sgg/f10000.htm


American drilling ship
An American drilling ship. Note the large number of drilling rigs on this huge vessel, the large crew, and the multiple anchors lined up on the shore.

Everything's bigger and better in the USA, it seems to say!



Photo: http://orsova.xhost.ro/_sgg/f10000.htm


drilling ship
A drilling ship. Note the man on top of the drilling rig.



Photo: http://orsova.xhost.ro/_sgg/f10000.htm


excavator
Excavator.



Photo: http://orsova.xhost.ro/_sgg/f10000.htm


drilling raft
A drilling raft. This was probably only used in very shallow water, where the other rigs could not go. Note its position close to the levee, and the duck boards across shallow water leading to it.



Photo: http://orsova.xhost.ro/_sgg/f10000.htm


boats in a line
Drilling rigs and excavators in line astern.



Photo: http://orsova.xhost.ro/_sgg/f10000.htm


boats in a line
Underwater explosion. Note the drilling rig nearby, which placed the charges in the holes it drilled.



Photo: http://orsova.xhost.ro/_sgg/f10000.htm


sip canal
This photograph portrays vividly the large number of men and the equipment needed to create the canal. This is the upstream entrance to the canal, temporarily barricaded by a levee bearing a railway, so that the work could be done in relatively dry conditions.

Water can be seen in the background, where work has been completed on the downstream end, perhaps because the levees at that end were breached when no longer needed. The shallow water on the canal floor in the foreground could be leakage through the levee, or it could be water lying around from recent rain.

Note the locomotives on the levees, used for carrying equipment and rock spoil, and the women in the foreground.

Photo: http://orsova.xhost.ro/_sgg/f10000.htm


sip canal
The Sip Canal was nearing completion in this view. As can be seen, the base of the canal has been levelled, and levees constructed on either side. Note also the temporary railways on top of the levee and on the canal floor, both used for hauling spoil and equipment to where they were needed.

Note the locomotives, both on the canal floor and on the levee, and the family group in the foreground.

Photo: http://orsova.xhost.ro/_sgg/f10000.htm


canal
This photograph shows the upstream entrance to the canal after it was completed and flooded, with the railway used to pull river craft up the canal on the right bank. The river flows from left to right in the photograph.

Photo: http://orsova.xhost.ro/_sgg/f10000.htm


canal
Postcard showing the newly completed Sip Canal.

Photo: Ada Kaleh CD


canal steamer
Canal steamer, the "I. Ferenc Jozsef", moving upstream against the 15.5 knot current.



Photo: http://orsova.xhost.ro/_sgg/f10000.htm


Orsova
M.F.T.R. Schiffswerfte

Historical photograph showing the shipyards based in Orsova. This site is now underwater.

The company now known as SC Santierul Naval Orsova SA began operations in 1890, as a small workshop designed for repairing of the ships used for the construction of the navigable channel between Portile de Fier (Iron Gates) and SIP Yugoslavia.

Photo: http://orsova.xhost.ro/_sgg/f10000.htm




King Alexander and mother
Inspecting the construction of the Sip Canal - Minister Spacič, King Alexander (1876-1903, king of Serbia 1889-1903) and his mother.



Photo: http://orsova.xhost.ro/_sgg/f10000.htm






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This site is to publicise the history and culture of Romania, and displays information from the Alexis Project Association

Alexis Project Filiasi/Romania
RC J/263/230/2007 CIF 21464151
Email: alexis_project@yahoo.com




If you have any photographs or information which would be useful for this site please contact Don Hitchcock


This page last modified Monday, 24th January, 2011 02:17am


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