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From the mid-19th century small industries started to develop, especially the iron foundry.The rail link between Middelfart and Nyborg opened in 1865, bringing added prosperity despite the fact that it connected with the ferry from Strib rather than the one from Middelfart.From the Middle Ages until the end of the 19th century the local fishermen were also whale hunters in winter.The only whale common in Danish waters is the Harbour Porpoise Phocoena phocaena.The houses are deemed to be among the most sophisticated dwellings of their time.Oak frames were used for the walls, and the roofs were probably thatched.The whale hunters linked their boats across the rather narrow Little Belt and by beating the sea with sticks and branches they directed the migrating porpoises to low water areas where they could be slaughtered.

Middelfart is served by the passenger rail service between Copenhagen and Jutland. At the beginning of the 20th century it was extended and deepened to the east.The population grew from 2,345 in 1880 to 11,056 in 1950 but in the second half of the 20th century the rate of growth declined.In 1970 a motorway bridge to Jutland was opened and in 2007 Middelfart became the seat of an expanded municipality, which included the former communes of Ejby and Nørre Aaby.From the Middle Ages the town appears to have specialized in catching harbour porpoises.In the 16th century cattle export was also significant.

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