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Drachten

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Drachten is a town with a population of 44,629 in the municipality of Smallingerland in the Netherlands. It is the second largest town in the province of Friesland.HistoryBeginningsDrachten 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.
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