The Leova Port


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Leova was a lively town. The chief business of the town dealt with grain, all type that grew in the vicinity in abundance and was exported to Romania, to Galatz-Braila, by boat on the Prut.
From the mouth of the river Prut, "Gura Prutulia", where the river flows into the Danube, the ships travel along the water only with the help of the sailors who push it along with long wooden poles. But, when the ships reach the Danube, there is a large steamboat there that pulls ten boats at a time into the ports of Galati and Braila.
At the Prut river's edge, where the ships are loaded, there is a lot of noise and excitement. There can often be from 80-100 ships there that are loaded with various grains. Those grains for export included summer and winter wheat, barley, corn, and so on.

The ships' owners as well as the sailors are Greek, therefore every merchant had to know at least enough Greek to be able to converse with them.

The laborers who brought the grain to the ships were almost all Jewish, each had his own bundles and his horse and during loading time they worked by the hour. Thankfully the cost of living was not expensive, so they lived not badly. They were organized in groups with a manager over them. During the winter, or when there was no work, they used to get advance payment from the merchants, so they were able to live quite nicely.

Jacob Baltzan, Our House in Leova, 1935
Memoir of life in Leova 1872-1904

Barge on the Prut
Barge on the Prut
In the year 1904 the Russian Danube Navigation Company began carrying grain on the River Pruth.  They have now for the purpose 38 river barges and 15 sea barges.  They have granaries at Leova, Fulcha, and Kagul, where they give their customers gratuitous storage.  The freight depends on the season and on the harvest.  Grain is shipped in river barges at the three stations named and transhipped into sea barges at Reni.

In 1907 the cargo from Leova to Odessa by this means of conveyance was 9 c. per poud [sic] (11s.. 10 d.) per long ton, and about 24,000 tons were carried.

Great Britain, Foreign Office

Prut River near
Prut River Near Leova
Moving downstream, the last navigable tributary of any importance which is encountered, the Pruth, lies wholly within Roumainia.  The river is navigable from its mouth to Nemtzeni, located 370 km. above.  From the mouth to Leova, 227 km. upstream, the river can be used by barges up to 500 tons capacity of not more than 1 1/2m. draught.  From Leova to Nemtzeni, barges of not more than 300 tons can be used with a draught of not more than 60 cm.

The width of the stream varies from 80 to 120 meters; its depth is variable, sometimes dropping to as little as two or three feet.  The course of the river is very sinuous, its total length to Nemtzeni being 50% greater than the air-line distance.

Going upstream, barges are hauled by special tow-boats or by oxen on the tow-path.  Downstream the barges descend with the current. which varies from 0.4 to 0.6 meters per second.  Ice is expected during the same months as for the Danube, i.e. from December 1st to March 1st (90 days).  Low water generally occurs from July 1st to October 1st.  The smallest radius of curvature is as little as 50 meters.  The banks are, in general, clay, rarely sand and gravel.  Such improvements as has been undertaken has been done by means of dredging.  Snag are sometimes found in the Pruth and are removed by the "Service Hydraulique" of Roumainia. 

Iargara Train
Iargara Train Station
Amidst this rich agricultural region, the Prut is an important trade route. In Leova, wheat and corn are shipped to Galati where the international brokers are located. Trade along the river is now suffering from the competition of the railway, which is faster and allows for the shipping of merchandise in smaller quantities, while chartering a boat on the Prut is usually prohibitively expensive. Originally, the train station was to be built in Leova, but fortunately, it was constructed 15 kilometers to the east, near the village of Iargara. Despite this distance, the station is used to transport a portion of Leovan goods, as the railroad can take them directly to international ports, bypassing the hefty duties imposed by the International Commission of the Danube en route to Constanta, a Romanian port on the Black Sea. In the port of Leova, there is heavy trafficking of timber, coming in on rafts from the Carpathians of Bukovina.

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