Logging history and the study of reference conditions in Scandinavian boreal forests has tended to focus on Scots pine dominated ecosystems. This paper presents a regional study of pre-industrial forest conditions and examines the effects of the industrial exploitation of ecosystems dominated by Norway spruce in northern Sweden. Historical records covering a period which preceded industrial logging in the study area (1917–1927) were used to obtain quantitative data on forest structure and influence of forest fires. These data were compared with a modern data set (2003) to analyse changes due to the industrial transformation of the forest. The early 20th century landscape was dominated by old, multi-cohorted spruce forests and mixed coniferous forests. It was found that fire affected both the structure and composition of the landscape. In post-burnt areas, even-aged forests dominated by deciduous species were the principal forest type. Between the early and modern data sets, profound changes in tree-species composition and age structure were documented. While the total volume of deciduous species increased substantially, the coverage of forests dominated by deciduous species decreased. There was also a significant increase in pine-dominated forests and in the total volume of pine. The industrial transformation of the studied landscapes has had profound effects on the structure of spruce forests, but much less so on deciduous forests. The study concludes that the present forest structure is a function of past management regimes, and that future transformations of the landscape will continue, thus affecting the natural variability and biodiversity of the forests.