The Completion of a Major European Canal

October 22, 1730

Construction on the original Ladoga Canal, located in the part of northwestern Russia now known as Leningrad Oblast, was completed. The purpose of this transportation route was to link the Neva and Volkhov Rivers and also to allow vessels to bypass the often stormy waters of nearby Lake Ladoga, which was prone to strong winds and had destroyed hundreds of cargo ships. 

Above all else, however, the Russian monarch Peter I saw the construction of the canal as a key means of further strengthening economic development. (Peter I, who is better known today as Peter the Great, became tsar in 1682 at the age of 10; a little over three years before his death in 1725, his royal title changed when he was officially declared Emperor of All Russia.) 

Construction on the canal began in 1719. This high-priority construction project was initially assigned to General Shornyakov-Pisarev by Prince Aleksandr Domilovich Menshikov, a close friend and associate of Peter I. Ultimately, though, the general proved to be anything but effective in overseeing the project and was forced to step down for reasons ranging from carelessness to procrastination.

The challenge of completing the canal was then handed over to Burkhard Christoph von Münnich, a German soldier and engineer. During the spring after he and others finished that project, boats began to sail through the new waterway. (The above-pictured map of the Ladoga Canal was created in 1742.)

In the long term, the Ladoga Canal did not live up to expectations of becoming a vital transportation link within the Russian Empire. The canal fell into complete disuse by 1940 during the Soviet era. This waterway is still remembered, however, as both one of the first major canals built within Russia and among the largest hydroengineering projects throughout 18th century Europe. 

A waterway that is called the New Ladoga Canal had been built closer to Lake Ladoga between 1866 and 1883. This canal is still used today by small boats.

For more information on the original Ladoga Canal, please check out

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