On 8 March 1865, the first spade was cut in the Breesaap in Velsen, an enormous dune area of 835 hectares, which gave the go-ahead for the digging of a canal, financed with private means, through Holland at its narrowest, right through the dunes. Hundreds of polder workers camped under primitive conditions in a village specially designed for them, De Heide (now Velseroord). On November 1, 1876, the North Sea Canal was opened in the presence of King William III . At the time, the canal had a bottom width of 27 meters and a depth of 7 meters. Now the 21 kilometer long channel is 270 meters wide and 15.5 meters deep.
Journalist S. Vissering had written an article in 1848 entitled ‘A trip to IJ-Muiden’, a name he invented. In it, he described how he took a trip to the coast with a few friends. After a boat trip across the canal they arrived in IJ-Muiden. There they ate a meal in a bathing hotel, took a sea bath and admired the port city with its harbor works. Fishing fantasy has partly come true. The canal was created, the name IJmuiden was taken over, but the bathing hotels were never realized. After the opening of the canal , various plans were made to turn IJmuiden into a seaside resort, but it remained with plans.
After the canal was put into operation , fishermen discovered that the new harbor mouth with both piers offered a safe berth. There was a lively fish trade with more and more fishing boats and traders, which hindered shipping traffic. In 1896, therefore, IJmuiden got its own fishing port and two years later the Rijksvisafslag was opened. Earlier, in 1883, a branch of the railway line from Haarlem to Uitgeest, which was built in 1867, had been realized for fishing beyond Santpoort-Noord. In 1983 this so-called ‘fishing line’ was discontinued. In 1914 the IJmuiden fishing fleet consisted of 155 trawlers, one third of the total Dutch fishing fleet. During the First World War, a large part of the fleet was lost as a result of the submarine war that the Germans had announced. The Second World War caused enormous damage to IJmuiden. Most of the trawlers were requisitioned by the Germans and large parts of IJmuiden and Wijk aan Zee were demolished to make room for the bunkers of the Atlantic Wall, which was supposed to stop an invasion by the Allies. After the liberation the fisheries did not succeed in recovering, but fortunately enough other forms of employment had been created.
In the year of the opening of the cana, which had literally divided the village of Velsen in two (Velsen-Zuid and Wijkeroog, later called Velsen-Noord), the Beverwijker J. Swart opened an artificial stone factory along the bank. In 1896 P. Smidt van Gelder from Wormerveer moved his paper factory to the canal. In January 1924 the first furnace of the Koninklijke Nederlandsche Hoogovens was lit. In the years that followed, Hoogovens grew into a world concern that provided tens of thousands of workers with work. In the 1980s, Hoogovens seemed to lose its global competition with other steel mills and so merged with British steel company British Steel in 1999 to continue as Corus. In 2007 the company was taken over by the Indian Tata Steel. The municipality of Velsen now has more than 67,000 inhabitants.