Navigation on the Neris River and its Importance for Vilnius
Neris is the second longest river in Lithuania, flowing over the territory of Vilnius, the capital of Lithuania. It played an important role in the history of Vilnius, particularly, as a waterway, which, in the past, connected the Grand Duchy of Lithuania (GDL) with the neighbouring regions and countries. The river and its tributary, Vilnia, played the main role in the economic development of the city, as well as the development of the industry based on water-driven mechanisms, fishing and other riverside trades, recreational activities of the inhabitants and the urban infrastructure of Vilnius. The role of the river, which decreased in the second half of the 19th century because of the development of land (railway and automobile) transport, became negligible in the years of the soviet power (1945-1990). It happened due to the drop of water elevation caused by the intense drainage of the areas and, particularly, the barbarous construction of a dam at the riverhead in Belarus in 1974, which fenced off a large area of the Vileyka Reservoir. Moreover, the works for deepening the riverbed by removing stones and shoals were stopped, and it made the river unnavigable. The paper also describes frequent floods caused by the drifting of ice in the spring, which brought great damage to the city in the past, as well as the types of ships and rafts used for navigation.
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