A new iron-hulled and steam-powered carrier vessel ‘Wetehinen’ was launched at the Savonlinnan Konepaja shipyard on 18 September 1907. It was owned by Matti Koponen, who was a merchant based in Puumala. Its length was 29.8 metres (98 ft) and it had an engine of 96 IHP. The ship was used for carrying timber from the Miettula sawmill in Puumala to Vyborg’s outport in Uuras.
In 1912 the vessel’s ownership was transferred to P. J. Kosonen, who was involved in the timber business in Sääminki, and in 1918 to his sons. The vessel moved to the port of Savonlinna. When the Kosonens owned the vessel, the crew consisted of six men and a cook. Wetehinen carried timber to Helsinki and Vyborg. The Kosonens’ company went bankrupt in 1932, and the vessel was sold to Vihtori Salo. The new owner used it for freighting timber for a couple of years and then sold it to Enso-Gutzeit Oy in October 1934.
Enso-Gutzeit had been using Wenno, a steam barge with a wooden hull, in 1920–1933, and this name was now given to Wetehinen. Wenno was mainly used for carrying pit wood, pulpwood, firewood, timber and sand on Lake Saimaa. Sulphate cellulose was carried from the Kaukopää mill in Imatra to Uuras in the late 1930’s, but the start of the Winter War ended traffic on the Saimaa Canal. Wenno continued to work on Lake Saimaa until 1964, when it was moored at Enso-Gutzeit’s Laitaatsilta shipyard in Savonlinna.
The company decided to sell some of its steam vessels, and Wenno ended up in the list of ships for sale. When the company offered it to the Puumala municipality in 1972, the offer was accepted. The idea was to convert the vessel into a café that was to be moored on the quay in the village. The plumbing operations required were so substantial that Wenno ended up being moored empty for a year. The Puumala yacht club members, however, came up with the idea of restoring the vessel completely, and it has been powered by its own engine since 1973.
S/S Wenno is the last remaining steam barge from the large fleet that worked on Lake Saimaa. The vessel was restored to its 1930s look and has its original steam engine. It was approved to the register of traditional ships maintained by Finland’s National Board of Antiquities. To ensure that the vessel remains in working order and to promote the steam engine vessel traditions, S/S Wenno is used for charter cruises in summer, run by volunteers and supported by the Puumala municipality. It is registered as a passenger ship and can carry up to 99 passengers.
Opening hours 2021
Cruises on Mondays, if COVID-19 allows: 5–26 July, at 6 p.m.
Matti Vainikka, The Puumala
Puh. +358 (0)44 359 3053
Last modified: 30 Jun 2021