Just off the Pärnu-Rakvere highway, a meandering road follows a rail line to the village of Tootsi and its briquette factory. The introduction to the 1938 factory begins as you pass through the settlement that grew up around it.
The haughty Tootsi briquette factory's premises now house a peat museum, which tells the story of the factory itself, its equipment, and peat and its processing. A narrow-gauge railroad leads off from the building into the peat fields and the Tootsi Bog; this carries an old peat workers' train. You can also have a ride on a handcar.
The use of peat for fuel began over a thousand years ago. In Estonia and Latvia, peat production started at the end of the 18th century. By the middle of the 19th, plenty of manors had their own peat quarries. Mechanized peat mining in Estonia goes back to efforts like those at the Sindi broadcloth factory starting in 1861.
A national peat briquette industry got its start in Estonia in 1936. A year later, the decision was made to build a briquette factory at Pööravere. This was quickly renamed after the nearest train station, and became the Tootsi Briquette Works. Even in the winter, as many as 200 people worked here. In 1938, part of the bog was drained, and a railroad track leading through the thicket to the Tootsi station was built on undulating ground. The Tootsi Briquette Works was one of the most modern facilities in Estonia at the time; production began in 1939.