Still sailing up the river
In 1840 the Fruens Bøge woods were opened to the public, and the citizens of Odense flocked there for the dances that were frequently held at the area’s numerous dining establishments. It was suggested as early as 1865 that a path should be built along the riverside of Odense Å, from Frederiksbroen to Fruens Bøge. In 1882, some foresighted entrepreneurs came up with the idea of introducing steamboat routes from Munke Mose to Fruens Bøge. The river had been dammed at Munke Mose since the 17th century and therefore had a good sailing depth upstream to the woods.
The woodland venue of Skovpavillionen welcomed people from Odense’s more wealthy classes, for music and dancing. It was demolished in 1946 and all that remains is a large woodland clearing with a steel beech leaf monument.
In front of the Pavilion was an 815 sq.m wooden promenade terrace, for dining and dancing.
These sailing trips became very popular, and by the end of the 1880s the “Åfart” was able to transport up to 400 people an hour in each direction. The 1895 drinking song “Sejle op ad åen” (Sailing up the River) is still sung today and describes the trip from Munke Mose to the woodland dances, in three verses.
Pleasure boat moored at the woodland terminal at Fruens Bøge. 1911.
In 1898, Odense's Sdr. Boulevard became Denmark’s very first cycle path. It led directly to Fruens Bøge, and with the arrival of trams in Odense in 1911 with routes extending from the beginning of Fåborgvej out to Hunderup woods the steamboat operators had to close down due to the competition. Sailing trips have now been resumed and are still very popular.
Map from approx. 1870. Odense’s southern boundary extends approximately to Munke Mose, from where the river cruises began sailing the southern section towards the woodland pier at Fruens Bøge.
Postcard from 1904. The steamboat setting out towards Fruens Bøge. In the background you can see the boarding jetty with steamboats at the Munke Mose lock. The building in the middle with its two towers is Odense Summer Theatre on Ny Vestergade.
The theatre opened its doors to audiences in summer 1895, with the revue show “From Flakhaven to Fruens Bøge”. One of the songs from the show was “Sailing up the River”.
Mankind has always exploited water power by building dams and watermills, but these physical obstacles prevent the animal life of the river from moving freely. Trout swim upstream from the sea to spawn at the top of the water system, and the young trout, known as smolt, then make their way back to the sea. Wildlife passages have therefore been constructed at many of the dams on Odense Å, such as Svend Saabyes Stryg here in Munke Mose.