The History of Heinola
The waters of Lake Päijänne pierced the Heinola Ridge more than 6,000 years ago. Since then, hunter-fishermen started moving around in the region, but it took thousands of years before permanent settlements started emerging in the area. Small villages sprang up in places like Vierumäki, Jyränkö and Lusi.
King Gustav III reformed the provincial division in 1776 and set up a new seat of administration, the Governor's Residence, in Heinola. It became a centre for the economy and administration. The Residence, which was born almost out of nowhere, increased its population in the 19th century to almost a thousand.
The Residence was moved to Mikkeli, and as compensation for this, Emperor Nicholas I granted Heinola the rights of a city in 1839. A bathhouse and a teacher training institute were established in Heinola in 1891 and 1899, respectively. The indirect role of the bathhouse was significant: because of it, Heinola received a permanent reputation as a lively summer city. More than 3,500 teachers graduated from the teacher training institute until 1972.
Steamships transported bathers and goods to Heinola already in the late 19th century. One traveller described the early summer in Heinola as a fragrant cloud of foam because of the city's numerous blossoming apple trees. The railway was built in 1932. The beautiful railway bridge became a symbol, one that eventually made its way to the city's coat of arms. The new Tähtiniemi bridge was opened to traffic in 1993, and the motorway was opened a few years later.
Heinola continued to grow after World War II. The migrant population, especially from the Käkisalmi region, gave the city their own brand. People also moved to Heinola in search of work, resulting in clusters of apartment buildings being constructed in the outskirts of the city centre. Large wood, forestry and textile factories, built in the 1950s and the 1960s, provided work for people. The city and the rural municipality merged in 1997, increasing the city's population to over 20 000.