Peacetime Changes to the Landscape in Eighteenth-Century Transylvania: Attempts to Regulate the Mureş River and to Eliminate Its Meanders in the Josephine Period
University of Graz
The article focuses on the attempts of Habsburg authorities in eighteenth-century Transylvania to regulate the Mureş River and eliminate its meanders in order to improve salt and timber transport to Hungary and the Banat region. These attempts ultimately led to changes in the landscape of the province by reshaping riverbanks and removing their vegetation. These changes were prompted by the need to change the type of transport vessel as a result of the timber crisis. To this end, specialists from Upper Austria were brought to build the new softwood vessels that were cheaper and corresponded with the characteristics of the Mureş River. The engineer Mathias Fischer was appointed project leader. He also initiated and planned cleaning operations on the river. The article also presents the work methods and machines employed during these operations and discusses the failed operation to eliminate the meander at Ciugud. In addition, the efforts of the Transylvanian Gubernium and Salt Office led to the accelerated development of towns such as Alba Iulia and Topliţa.