History of the Port of Kaskinen
The town of Kaskinen was founded in 1785 when the King of Sweden, Gustav III, granted a charter for town privileges. Sea traffic started in 1770s; the packing warehouse, customs warehouse and wharfing were built down by the market square to where the Inland port hosts the Guest harbour today. Later on, the merchants built some quays of their own, but it was not until 1875 that the shipping and port operation picked up. The good Port of Kaskinen, with its deep and protected fairway, was already known during the middle ages.
The railways came to Kaskinen in 1912 and a siding was laid to the quay of the newly completed inland port. At that time, the Pile wharf, which was located in the area of the wood yards where the Chemicals quay is today, was also taken into use. In 1955, the constructing of the current deep port began. Today the deep port has extended to 800 metres and 8 berths.
Significant factors in the development of the port were the launching of wood processing in the area in the 19th century and especially the building of the Metsä-Botnia mill in Kaskinen in 1977. An added boost came from Finnforest's decision to centralise the shipping of products from Finnish sawmills in Kaskinen in the 1990s and M-Real's investment in the mill in the first decade of the 21st century.
Tar, pitch, sawn and hewn timber and agricultural goods were the most important exports at first. Salt was a major import. Nowadays the main exports consist of timber, pulp and refined thermo mechanical pulp. Smaller amounts of chemicals, feed, wood and peat pellets are also shipped.
Since 1934, the Port of Kaskinen had been an important winter port for the pulp industry of Northern Finland. This era lasted until 1974, when the renewed Finnish fleet of icebreakers began to keep open the sea lanes to more northern ports as well.
In the early stages of shipping, the loading and unloading of ships, stevedoring, was carried out by the ship's own crew. At the beginning of the 20th century, a specialised group of workers, the stevedores, took over the job. At first, cargo was handled entirely manually. As steamboats became more prevalent in the 1870s, the first winches were introduced.
It was not until almost a 100 years later that the first ground equipment for lifting cargo was taken into use, at which point the cargo handling equipment on the ground had also almost reached today's level. In Kaskinen the dockers had always been temporarily employed. In 1983, Kaskö Stevedoring employed the engine drivers permanently, followed by other stevedores in 2001. Prior to World War I, the port could have up to 200 workers at its busiest times. Today the port traffic amounts are approximately 15 times bigger while the port is operated by 50-60 regular workers.
Ab Kaskö Stevedoring Ltd / Oy Silva Shipping Ab
After World War I, the exporting of timber grew, resulting in timber merchants founding a stevedoring company in Kaskinen. Ab Kaskö Stevedoring Ltd was entered into the trade register on June 1st 1920. Back then, stevedoring was a profitable business, did not require large investments and the port traffic kept growing. Already in its early stages, the company became a member of the employers' federation, The Federation of Finnish Stevedores. Kaskö Stevedoring dominated the stevedoring alone until 1939 when Oy Old Stevedoring Ltd was founded. In 1949, the timber export company Oy Kaskö Wood bought the majority of the company's shares. After this, the operation focused on the company's own shipping. Metsä-Botnia bought the majority of Kaskö Wood in 1983. Kaskö Stevedoring was once again able to operate independently, as opposed to being an assisting subsidiary. At the same time, the company bought the equipment and machinery of its rival, moved office to the deep port and was, once again, the sole stevedoring operator in Kaskinen. In 1997, Aktiebolaget Kaskö Stevedoring Limited ended the clearance operation of its subsidiaries by merging them with itself. The name was changed to Oy Silva Shipping Ab. Silva is borrowed from the local nomenclature and its definition (woods) signifies the focus of the company and port on wood industry shipping.