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The Telemark Canal is a combination of natural waterways and manmade lock systems. The natural waterways has been used to transport people and goods since the Viking era. But there were several locations with waterfalls and rapids that had to be passed on shore. That is why the locks were constructed, to make a continuous waterway.
The natural waterway was formed by volcanoes, glaciers and faults through millennia. The same geological process has given way to valuable minerals that locals exported. Among them are whetstone from Eidsborg, copper from Åmdals Verk and iron from Rauland.
The lower part of the Telemark canal is a part of the Geo Norvegica UNESCO Global Geopark, an area with a unique geology and an interesting culture history.