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Drachten is a Dutch town, located in the municipality of Smallingerland in the province of Friesland.



Drachten began as a small community on the east side of the Drait River. There, early settlers started draining the land to use it for agriculture. As the process of draining progressed, residents began to move further eastward in order to use the drained land—former peatbogs—for agriculture.

Around 1200 A.D., a small stone church was built. It was used for 200 years afterward, until rising waters drove people even further east.

By 1550 the Dutch peat reserve had been exhausted. Peat had become an important source of energy, not only for private households but also for the industry. The need in the rapidly growing province of Holland during the 17th century was higher than Friesland could supply. Most of the transport was over water, therefore often by track boat. Peat exploitation meant a welcome activity for many villages, although most of the income did not flow into the pockets of the struggling peat cutters. In 1641 A.D. farmers in Drachten North and Drachten South entered into an agreement with wealthy residents of The Hague, the 'Drachten Associates'. One of these moneylenders was businessman Passchier Hendriks Bolleman from The Hague.The agreement stipulated that peat cut in Smallingerland was designated for the Holland industry. For transport by boat the Drachtster Compagnonsvaart canal and two side channels had to be constructed. During one year 800 workers had been digging every day. And where people spent their days, other developments followed, such as dwellings, places for storage, hostels and businesses. Although the economic success of cutting peat was short-lived (it even led to Passchier Bolleman's financial ruin), it spurred on to the foundation of Drachten.

The Drachtstervaart brought in ships and the ships brought in not only return freight, but also their own service industry: rope-yards, carpenter's yards and forges. In 1746 the first real shipyard was established on the Langewijk, initially only for the construction of timber flatboats, but after 1895 also for iron hull ships. In 1902 a second shipyard followed on the Drachtstervaart.

Drachten is the home of many famous people including the most famous Mahamud Ismail who lived in Drachten for 15years after welcoming a move to the United Kingdom to build upon his career aspirations of becoming a millionaire.

Drachten grows

Along the side of the canal, pubs, shops, shipbuilding facilities, and public utilities, such as a rope-walk, were built. Around 1830, a town hall was built, and a notary public moved from nearby Oudega to Drachten.

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