The Dead Falls of Lake Ragunda – Jämtland, Sweden - Atlas Obscura

The Dead Falls of Lake Ragunda

Jämtland, Sweden

A botched 18th-century canal silenced one of Sweden's most magnificent waterfalls. 


The Grand Rapids (Storforsen) was once one of the most magnificent waterfalls in Sweden, connecting Lake Ragunda to the Indalsälven river. But a disastrous attempt in 1796 to dig a bypass canal for floating timber put an end to all that. Today the area is a silent strip of huge, sharp rocks and boulders, cutting a wide meandering border straight through the dense forest.

The Grand Rapids literally became the Dead Falls overnight. In 1796 the Grand Rapids Company hired a local contractor named Magnus Huss (later nicknamed Crazy Huss) to make Indalsäven accessible for floating timber. Rather than digging a canal, Magnus Huss decided to dam part of Lake Ragunda on the west side of the gravel plateau next to the falls, and let the overflow water create its own path around the Grand Rapids.

However, Huss hadn´t taken the spring runoff from the surrounding mountains into account. On the night of June 6, 1796, the rising water pushed through his dam, cutting through the gravel barrier, which not only drained Lake Ragunda completely but also redirected the entire river straight through the forest. The water caused devastation to farms, livestock and sawmills miles downstream, but miraculously no human lives were taken by the gigantic flood wave. None, with the possible exception of Crazy Huss himself, who was found drowned in the river a year later, suspected to have been lynched by angry farmers.

Today, the Dead Falls (Döda Fallet) is a unique opportunity to see what a waterfall looks like without water.

Know Before You Go

The area around the Dead Falls is a natural preserve. It is free to access for the public but certain regulations apply.

The walking path to the Dead Falls is reached from road 86, 10 km east of Hammarstrand city.
Guides provided by the tourist board can be booked at phone nr 0696-68 20 90. Guides need to be booked a week in advance.

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