The Center of the green Vechtdal
The Overijsselse Vecht
The Overijsselse Vecht is a rainwater river in Germany and the Netherlands. It is 167 kilometers long of which 60 km in the Netherlands. Its origins lie in Münsterland and it ends at Zwolle in the Zwarte Water with a flow rate of 45 to 83 cubic meters per second. The catchment area of the Vecht covers 3780 square kilometers. In Germany the river Vechte is mentioned. The first written mention of the Overijsselse Vecht dates back to around 1232.
Course of the river
In the Münsterland there are several sources of the Vecht. For example, a source is formed by the moat of the castle Darfeld. The saga goes on another source that around 400 AD Prince Vechtan would have drowned at the crossing. His name lives on in the name of the river. Important tributaries that join the Vecht are the Steinfurter Aa, the Dinkel, the drainage canal at Gramsbergen, which has taken over the function of the Kleine Coevordense Vecht, which drains part of Southeast Drenthe, and the Regge. Important places and municipalities along the Vecht are: Metelen, Wettringen, Schüttorf, Brandlecht, Nordhorn, Neuenhaus, Hoogstede, Emlichheim, Gramsbergen, Hardenberg, Ommen, Vilsteren, Dalfsen and Zwolle.
Meaning of the river for shipping
De Vecht played an important role in shipping until well into the 19th century. The river had an irregular flow rate, so that in the summer months the water level could be extremely low. The river was actually only navigable well in the watery time, from October to April. In the summer months the river almost fell dry and shipping sometimes stopped for weeks on end. Moreover, the river was very curvy. The sailing time from Zwolle to Nordhorn was about 6 days, while a skipper sailed from Amsterdam to Zwolle in 2 days. The summer pen used for this were adapted to this so that one could continue as long as possible. When the water level was too low, dams were thrown into the river by the captains. As soon as sufficient water had been collected, the dam was passed through and one could continue to sail (one piece). This was a common practice on all rivers in the east of the Netherlands: sailing where there was no water. A lot of Bentheimer sandstone, which was an important building material, was transported over the Vecht. High tolls had to be paid at the border. To avoid this, the captains smuggled a lot. Many examples are known: silk bacon was nailed to the board and e.g. schinken were pulled on a rope under water. When a skipper was caught, cargo and ship were forfeited. He could then buy it back for payment. If the money was not available, one was helped by other skippers. To shorten the sailing time to Zwolle, around 1600 the Nieuwe Vecht was dug for this purpose. Zwolle had the staple right to all goods that were transported over the Overijsselse Vecht. In the middle of the 19th century the canal Dedemsvaart and its branch of the Lutter Hoofdwijk were completed. They formed a shorter waterway between Coevorden and Zwolle and that meant that the importance of the Vecht as a waterway diminished.
In 1908 the river was canalized and many bends were cut off. Because of these and other waterworks, the water in the river dropped to a low level and in 1920 they had to decide to stow the Haandrik, Ane (now demolished) Hardenberg, Diffelen (near Mariënberg), Junne (just east of Ommen), Vilsteren and Vechterweerd (at neighborhood Marshoek, between Dalfsen and Zwolle). The river is navigable from the mouth at Zwolle to the weir at Junne for ships. This is because the weirs downstream from Junne do have lock locks and the weir at Junne itself and further upstream do not.