Forsvik stands on section of the the Gota Canal between Lake Viken and Lake Vattern, and is the site of the canal’s oldest lock, dug in 1813, and of an iron bridge of the same date the crosses the waterway. It has been an industrial community for many centuries. A royal charter issued in 1686 enabled Anton von Boij to establish an ironworks that used charcoal from forests in the region to smelt local iron ore. The blast furnaces closed in the early 1850s and the production of wrought-iron at the forge ceased in 1859, but C W Palmaer, who had worked as a book keeper at the ironworks, developed the site from 1857 as a foundry and mechanical engineering complex. By 1900 it was producing pipes, pumps and ventilators for customers throughout Sweden, but its speciality came to be machinery for the manufacture of wood pulp. A mechanical pulp plant was established in Forsvik in 1871.
All the traditional industries in the town closed in the last 60 years of the 20th century, the pulp mill in 1940, the flour mill in 1961, the foundry and engineering works in 1977 and the saw mill in 1999. Since 1987 the works has been developed as a heritage site, with displays that since 2003 have been located in the former foundry. Forsvik Industriminnen is also the focus for industrial conservation projects elsewhere in the region.