The southern border region of Friesland is an area full of variety: open grass and farmland, wooded banks, forest, heathland, swamp, and water. The varied landscape goes hand in hand with rich nature and a very fascinating cultural history. Here, provinces Friesland, Drenthe, and Overijssel merge almost unnoticed. The point where the provincial borders touch each other lies ’in the middle of nowhere’ and can only be recognized by a (by the way not easy to find) border marker.
A sand ridge between Oldemarkt and Noordwolde is the oldest reclamation axis in the area. The series of villages along this axis was created centuries ago. At the beginning of the seventeenth century, excavation of peat soils began. For the drainage of the peat, waterways were dug from Steggerda, Vinkega and Noordwolde to the Lende. The highlight of the peat extraction was between 1650 and 1750; in 1800 the peat production around the villages was almost over with. Over time, a new source of income was found in the reed weaving mill, which developed into a serious industry at the end of the nineteenth century. The Rijksrietvlechtschool was founded in Noordwolde in 1912, which now houses the Nationaal Vlechtmuseum.
A long, straight road with the intriguing name of Vierdeparten runs parallel to the border with Drenthe and Overijssel. During the time of the peat excavation, a canal ran along that road connecting the Steggerdavaart, Vinkegavaart, and Noordwoldervaart. To make use of this Vaart-system shipping, a lease had to be paid: one-fourth part of the quantity of peat transported by ship.
In the nineteenth century, when peat extraction was finished, the land on both sides of the road was purchased by the "Maatschappij van Weldadigheid" (Society of Benevolence). This organization was established in 1818 to combat poverty, particularly in the major Dutch cities. Far away from those cities, in the border regions of Drenthe, Friesland and Overijssel, agricultural colonies were established where the "needy" could work, with the aim that they would eventually stand on their own two feet. The Vierdeparten was part of the Wilhelminaoord colony. A little further to the southwest, in Overijssel, the Willemsoord colony was founded.
The Society still exists and is located in the former colony of Frederiksoord. Nowadays she focuses on preserving the rich heritage, which consists of workers’ houses, farms, factories, schools, retirement homes, Etc. Museum De Koloniehof is also located in Frederiksoord. Another very special museum is the Miramar Sea Museum in nearby Vledder. In that village, you will also find Museums-Vledder, three museums under one roof: a museum for contemporary graphics, a museum for contemporary glass art and, unique in the world, a museum for fake art.
In addition to a rich and interesting cultural history, the area also has a varied nature. Immediately south of Noordwolde lies the 100-hectare Spokebos, which contains the Spokeplas recreational lake. Further south, in Drenthe and Overijssel, forest areas are interspersed with grassland, field, and heath. The Noordwoldermeenthe is a heathland north of Noordwolde. Between that area and the village lies the Jeudse Karkhof, a Jewish cemetery surrounded by oak trees, which stands out above the excavated surrounding area. Further to the west lies the Lendevallei nature reserve, a varied swamp area on both sides of the Lende. That river is perfect for a beautiful canoe trip. The area also offers countless opportunities for hikers and cyclists. If you are planning a route near Steggerda, we strongly recommend IJsboerderij De Saks (Ice Farm De Saks) as a place for a short or longer break. This typical Saxon farmhouse was built in 1731 and is one of the oldest farms in Friesland.