2.The River

Kemijoki, the longest river in Finland (over 500 km), has been an important waterway both in summer and winter. Its average width between Rovaniemi and Kemi is about 600 m. Human beings arrived in this area more than 8,000 years ago to fish and hunt. Rovaniemi is situated at the confluence of the Kemijoki River and its tributary, the Ounasjoki River. The first settlements in the area date back to the Stone Age.

Fishing used to be a lifeline for the survival of the people in the area. Kemijoki was once one the best salmon rivers in Europe. Fishing salmon, nowadays the provincial fish species of Lapland, was strictly regulated. In the past, local maidservants and farm hands wanted it to be specified in their contracts that they would not have to eat salmon too often! The biggest river catches were hundreds of tons a year. Fishing stopped in 1949, one year after the construction of the Isohaara hydroelectric power plant at the estuary. Perch, grayling, pike, rainbow trout, burbot, whitefish, and trout are some of the fish caught nowadays in the river. Pike was important already to the first inhabitants of the area.


Timber floating was practised in the waters of the Kemijoki river basin from the 19th century until 1991. The office building of the Timber Floating Association, designed by architects Johannes (Jussi) Lappi-Seppälä and Ilkka Martas, dates back to 1937. This officially protected building is a representative of unassuming classicism and also contains some aspects of functionalism.



The office building of the Timber Floating Association and the destroyed Ounaskoski Bridge behind


The Ounaskoski Bridge was built in 1930. The Germans blew it up during the Lapland War in October 1944. The new 323-m-long railway and road bridge (nowadays also known as the Old Bridge) was completed only in 1951.

Link to the "Bridges" (Sillat) webcam