History

The Simojoki basin is one of the oldest permanently inhabited areas in Lapland.  The pace and progress of the settlement clearly reflect what the river has had to offer in the way of livelihood, abundant catches of fish and ready transportation.  Some areas had already permanent settlements in the 1500s.  The later half of the 1700s saw the population of the village of Simo burgeon, but it was not until the 1800s that settlers began putting down roots farther upriver.
From the end of 1800s on, settlement in the area grew significantly; life began to take on its present diversity as the wood-processing industry developed and expanded apace.  Forestry would in fact become a key source of livelihood until the 1960s.  A number of sawmills operated at the mouth of the Simojoki, the timber for which was floated down the river.

 

 

Forestry and animal husbandry were the principal livelihoods in what was essentially a wilderness area.  Animal husbandry had become well established back in the early 1600s.  In the late 1800s, reindeer husbandry become an important secondary occupation for farmers along the river.  Today the municipality of Simo is the southernmost reindeer-herding district in Finland.

Fishing, hunting and gathering nature´s bounty have long traditions in the region.  Nature provided the settlers along the river with their livelihood and did much to shape the patterns and trends of settlement in the region.

The Simojoki was well-known salmon river even back in the Middle Ages.  Salmon fishing brought prosperity to the coast from the Middle Ages to the early 1900s, when farming and forestry displaced fishing in importance as catches on the river declined.

The state of the salmon population and salmon fishing on the Simojoki remained poor for decades.  Restoration of rapids, far-sighted, long-term management of the salmon population, and fishing regulations combined to make the Simojoki a popular recreational fishing site once again in the late 1990s.  After several sluggish decades, the salmon have returned to the river and the rapids are now well worth the fishers while -whether it is grayling or salmon they are after.

The nationally valuable cultural and historical milieus of the Simojoki comprise a number of villages and a variety of cultural landscapes associated with farming.  Traditionally settlement has spred in a string, hugging the rivers and roads running along their banks.  The riverside villages are generally long row villages.    
(Lapland Regional Envinroment Centre, april 2007)


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