Volga-Baltic Waterway, canal and river system, c.685 mi (1,100 km) long, N European Russia. It links the Volga River and the St. Petersburg industrial area. It consists of the Moscow-Volga Canal, the Volga River, the Rybinsk Reservoir, the Mariinsk system (composed of the Sheksna River, the White Lake Canal, the Kovzha River, the Mariinsk Canal, and the Vytegra River), the Onega Canal, the Svir River, the Ladoga Canals, and the Neva River to St. Petersburg. The waterway was begun in 1709 to connect St. Petersburg with the interior. The major canals were built in the 1930s. The waterway was reconstructed and modernized in the early 1960s, the principal addition being a dam across the Sheksna River near Cherepovets, which deepened the waterway as far as the Kovzha River, facilitating the use of larger vessels. Although more extensive, this waterway follows the historic Baltic-Volga trade route, in use since the 9th cent.