Meppel lies on a geographical strategic point. If you'll travel north from whatever point in the Netherlands, by train, boat or car, it is very likely that you will pass Meppel.
Meppel is first metioned in 1141. In 1300 one could reach Meppel only by water. It became important for the digging of moor in Drenthe, from there the 'turven' or peat were shipped to the rest of Holland.
Meppel seems to be situated very land-inward, but in fact it always has remained a sea harbour, a fact that is even not realised by a lot of inhabitants of Meppel. But in the south a large container terminal dominates the landscape, and a lot of waterways of which a few are natural but the most have been dugged under the reign of Willem I, connect here on the Meppelerdiep, which connect the IJssel en Het Zwarte Meer and finaly the IJsselmeer, which used to be open sea (Zuiderzee), before the Afsluitdijk made this a lake in 1936.