Rapid shows in Finland
Some waterfalls and rapids in Finland are utilized for hydroelectric production, but are occasionally allowed to flow free in so-called arranged rapid shows.
In addition, some falls may flow free during spring floods, when the flow rate of the river exceeds the capacity of the hydroelectric plant, and the surplus water must be directed to the original (normally dry) stream bed. Many falls can also flow free during possible maintenance operations in the power plant.
Below we present some of our blocked waterfalls that you can still see flowing free, if you arrive at the right time.
Imatrankoski rapids in eastern Finland was once one of the largest free-flowing waterfalls in the Nordic countries. At the end of 19th century, Imatrankoski was considered as one of the best known nature attractions in Europe. Some people even called it the "Niagara of Europe".
The rapids were blocked for hydroelectric production in 1929, and today the power plant (192 MW) is the largest hydroelectric plant in Finland, measured in power output.
Imatrankoski is still allowed to flow free in rapid shows, regularly arranged by the town of Imatra. During the shows the water is allowed to run in the old, narrow stream bed of the Vuoksi River, with the flow rate of about 500 m3/s. The shows last about 20 minutes, and they are arranged between June and August according to separate schedules.
The rapid shows are free for the visitors, and there are plenty of good viewing points to admire the rapids. Today, the shows are among the most important tourist attractions in the town, which doesn't come as a surprise: the free-flowing rapid is an impressive sight. The power of the rapids is even enhanced by background music, including suites of the famous Finnish composer Jean Sibelius. The total drop height of Imatrankoski rapids is 18 metres, and length 1300 m.
Address: Imatrankoskentie 3, Imatra
GPS: 61.16956 (N), 28.77362 (E)
GoSaimaa.com – Imatrankoski rapids
The famous waterfall of Kyröskoski (known also as "Hallapyora near to Yaemen" in Finland's national epic Kalevala) used to be one of Finland's largest falls, still in the 1800s. In the year 1912, however, it was dammed for hydroelectric production, with a power output of 12 MW.
Today the waterfall is allowed to flow free 4 times a year: on May Day, Midsummer‘s Day, as well on the second Sunday of July and August (14.00–14.30 o‘clock). The estimated flow rate of the Pappilanjoki River that feeds the fall is about 27 m3/s, which isn't that much compared to the Imatrankoski rapids (above).
While the Imatrankoski rapids is more like a "rapid" than a waterfall, Kyröskoski can be considered to be a true, genuine waterfall: it's drop height is 22 metres and length about a hundred metres. When allowed to flow free, Kyröskoski is absolutely one of the most magnificent and powerful waterfalls in Finland.
Address: Koskitie 35, Hämeenkyrö
GPS: 61.67016 (N), 23.19086 (E)
The Verlankoski rapids is one of the many utilized rapids in the river system of Kymijoki River in Kymenlaakso region. The rapids flow in middle of the historical Verla mill village that nowadays belongs to the town of Kouvola.
The first (still active) hydroelectric plant was built in 1954 and the second one in 1994. Even before that, though, there has been some hydroelectric production in the area. Today, Verlankoski rapids are allowed to flow free once a year, on Verla day, July 18th. The total drop height of the rapids is 6.2 metres, and the power output 3.05 MW.
The Verla mill village has had an important role in the ground wood industry of Finland, ever since 1872. On that year, the first ground wood mill was founded in the village by engineer Hugo Neuman. A larger ground wood and board mill was built later, and it was in operation until 1964. Today, all the industrial buildings are preserved as a cultural sight.
Although Verlankoski rapids is not a genuine waterfall, but only a "rapid", it's a valuable and beautiful sight already due to its cultural and historical values. The Verla village was also nominated for the list of UNESCO World Heritage Sites in 1996.
Address: Verlantie 300, Verla (Kouvola)
GPS: 61.06292 (N), 26.63940 (E)
More info and images:
Verla village's website
Halkiankoski is one of the highest blocked waterfalls in Southern Finland, located in the municipality of Pornainen. The fall is formed where the water of the Mustijoki River is squeezed through a narrow crack in the bedrock, and then falling down a total of 10 metres.
The first hydroelectric plant was built at the waterfall in the 1930s, and the latest modernization was done in 2004. The output power of the plant is only 0.3 MW – a typical example of a so-called mini hydro plant.
Nowadays the old stream bed is dry during most of the year, as the water is channeled to the turbines of the plant. During the spring floods, however, the waterfall is allowed to flow free for several days, or even weeks at best. When that happens, Halkiankoski is a nice and powerful waterfall.
We can only hope that the energy-economically insignificant hydroelectric plant will be removed in the future, and the waterfall restored back to its natural state – to work as a tourist attraction, for example. But before that happens, Halkiankoski is a nice and gorgeous waterfall-sight of the early spring – at least if you don't let the man-made dam structures distract from the beauty of the fall.
Address: Halkiantie 16, Pornainen
GPS: 60.52758 (N), 25.30130 (E)
Massakoski waterfall (known also as Nahkionkoski) is the last of the three famous consecutive waterfalls in the Karjaanjoki River, all of which flow or have flowed in the town of Karkkila. The other two are Karkkilankoski and Myllykoski. The waterfall is formed, when the water of the Karjaanjoki River goes over a steep cliff (with a total height of 10 metres), and foams down the tiered rocky slope in several white streams.
The waterfall was utilized for hydroelectric production for the first time in 1915, when there was a large energy demand for the nearby Högfors foundry. In 1923 the power plant was expanded and partly rebuilt. Today the power output of the plant is insignificant, as it is (according to public data) only 0.43 MW, so the plant is a typical mini hydro plant.
The power plant and the dam look quite old and decayed, and it feels even reasonable to question, whether or not the plant really is still in use. Some water actually flows in the fall all the time, because the wooden floodgates are partly broken. The wooden water intake channel also seems quite old and even rotten, as some water continuously leaks out of it. Even the power plant building itself (made of concrete) looks abandoned, although I don't know for sure if that's true.
Despite the ugly dam and other structures, the waterfall itself is a nice sight worth visiting, at least during spring. As the dam is old, decayed and potentially dangerous, there would be good reason to demolish it completely, and allow the waterfall to flow free. At the same time, the old power plant building could possibly be preserved as a museum.
We can only ask, who has enough courage and capital to implement such a cultural action?
Address: Massakoskenpolku 1, Karkkila
GPS: 60.52886 (N), 24.22329 (E)
Pikku-Taivalkoski (also known as "Pirunköngäs") used to be a spectacular waterfall in Pudasjärvi. The fall foamed in the Pintamo-oja River, located about 2 kilometres from the nearby Pintamo-lake, which used to feed the fall. The waterfall was formed in the middle of a forest, where the water rushed down a rocky cliff, with a total drop height of more than 30 metres. In the past days (probably in the early 1900s), there was also a log flume in the waterfall, but it was later torn down.
The waterfall was utilized for hydroelectric production in 1950s by the electric company Koillis-Pohjan Sähkö Oy. According to my knowledge, the harnessing of the fall was done by first building (in 1954) two regulation dams to the Pintamo-oja River. The first one was constructed at the start of the river, and the other one at the crest of the waterfall. The plant itself was completed in 1955. Today the power output of the plant is only 0.5 MW, so it is (again) an example of an energy-economically insignificant mini hydro plant.
Despite the plant, the waterfall is still allowed to flow free rarely, like during the local village party called Pintamopäivät ("Pintamo days"). Based on the photos that I have seen, Pikku-Taivalkoski waterfall could be a very beautiful and refreshing nature sight if allowed to permanently flow free. But who knows what happens in the future... we can always live in hope.
Osoite: Myllyvaarantie 65 (the fall is located at the end of an unnamed dirt road, starting from Myllyvaarantie, with driving distance about 500 m), Pudasjärvi
GPS: 65.46488 (N), 27.62984 (E)
The free flowing Pikku-Taivalkoski and the log flume (probably) photographed at the start of the 1900s. The original source of the image is unknown.
Aittokoski is a 30-metre high waterfall-like rapid that used to flow in the River Emäjoki in Suomussalmi municipality. Until the midpoint of 20th century, it was a part of the famous series of rapids in the area, being probably the largest one. Aittokoski was even called the "Imatra of Kainuu", referring to the famous Imatrankoski rapids presented above.
All the rapids were lost, however, at the end of 1950s, when the Emäjoki River was utilized for hydroelectric production. The hydroelectric plant of Aittokoski was completed in 1960, and its power output is no less than 47 MW.
Today, Aittokoski is allowed to flow free quite rarely. The photograph above was taken in the July 2015, and is borrowed from the blog of Pauliina Järvelä (thank you Pauliina for allowing me to use the photo here). When the photo was taken, the water level of the nearby Kiantajärvi Lake was exceptionally high after heavy rains. It's also probable, that the waterfall is allowed to flow free during spring floods, at least occasionally.
If you happen to arrive at the place when Aittokoski flows free, I recommended you to stay even longer, and hopefully with a camera. According to the videos and images I have seen, Aittokoski is a magnificent waterfall, and really deserves its extra name "Imatra of Kainuu" even today.
Address: Emäjoentie 70, Suomussalmi
GPS: 64.82772 (N), 28.83423 (E)
Once upon a time there was a great waterfall called Ämmäkoski, flowing free in the Kajaaninjoki River, in the town of Kajaani. It was frequently called a queen of the River Kajaaninjoki or Grande Finale by local people, which gives even today some clue about the nature of the fall.
In fact, Ämmäkoski was a steep, 4.5 metres high cascade that had a flow rate of about 90 m3/s. The roar of the fall was often heard throughout the town. The fall really deserved it's name, as Ämmä means "grandmother" in the old dialect of Kainuu, and this honorable name was reportedly given for several other large rapids as well, besides this one.
The waterfall was blocked for hydroelectric production in 1917, and today the power output of the plant is 4.9 MW. The other remarkable rapids of the Kajaaninjoki River (such as the famous Koivukoski rapids) were also blocked and utilized later.
If the water level in the river rises high enough, Ämmäkoski may occassionally flow free even today. Most likely that happens during spring floods, although there is no official information available. If you can ignore the dam structures, the free-flowing Ämmäkoski is an impressive waterfall. At the same time, it's an important monument of the lost queen of the river, toppled by human.
Address: Kalkkisillantie 2, Kajaani
GPS: 64.23007 (N), 27.73232 (E)
Ruskeakoski is about 20 metres high waterfall-like rapid in the Jänisjoki River, located in the city of Joensuu, in North Karelia. The waterfall was utilized for hydroelectric production since 1957, and its power output is 3.2 MW.
Like the other blocked waterfalls or rapids presented in this article, also Ruskeakoski flows free only occasionally, when the water level is high. I recommend you to watch the Youtube-video below (I haven't visited the waterfall yet). Based on the video material, Ruskeakoski seems to be a genuine waterfall, and very much worth seeing.
Address: Ruskeakoskentie 382, Joensuu
GPS: 62.42699 (N), 30.44152 (E)
Other possible sights
In addition to the sights presented above, there are several other utilized rapids in Finland that may occasionally flow free. We aren't, however, going to present all of them here, especially because most of them weren't genuine waterfalls even when they were in their natural state.
Some sights worth seeing could be the utilized rapids of Utanen and Jylhämä in the Oulujoki River, Vakkolankoski in the Porvoonjoki River in Askola, and Lammaistenkoski in the Kokemäenjoki River. If you want to propose a new sight to this article, feel free to contact.