The history of the Port of Kunda dates back to 1805 when the Russian tsar Alexander I granted a permit by his ukase to build the Port of Kunda. A jetty was built at the mouth of the river, and the Port of Kunda commenced its operation.
In 1812, a customs office was established there through which salt, herring and coal, later on even tobacco, ironware, etc. could be imported. Products of the Viru county were exported, i.e. timber, grain and spirits. After the port was completed, many sawmills were built on the riverside of the Kunda River, and their production – boards and planks – was mainly shipped to London and used there as construction timber.
In 1823, the Port of Kunda was transferred into the ownership of Thomas Chayhills & Son, which had been founded in 1633, and they had it at their disposal for over 100 years.
In 1869, John Girard de Soucanton, the owner of the Kunda Manor decided to build in Kunda the third cement plant of Russia. In total, four cement plants have been built in Kunda during its history, the latest thereof produces cement even now. The cement was marketed mainly in St. Petersburg and Moscow, and in both cases it was shipped by sailing vessels from Kunda to St. Petersburg. The main import goods included coal which was mainly used for heating the cement plant.
In the 1860s, the rail network of the port was connected to the cement plant in order to facilitate the growing cement and coal transport. In 1870, the St.Petersburg-Tallinn railway was completed, and in 1896 the Rakvere-Kunda railway branch.
While the first steamship visited the port in 1894, then in 1913 already 4/5 of the visits to the port were made by steamships. The transhipment of the goods took place in the roadsteads. At the end of the tsarist era, Kunda already had a decent port.
As a result of the First World War and the economic crisis thereafter, the importance of the port of Kunda decreased sharply – the cement plant started to burn domestic oil shale, the transport of cement to other countries stopped, and the customs policy of Finland put an end to the potato trade. The operation of the cargo port of Kunda terminated in 1940 and the port was not used for fifty years.