… was never really outstanding as an influential and productive mine. Yet, it did play a small role for the Luleå Silverworks and the total, but bleak, production of silver and lead. Already at the 1660 start of mining production, Sweden’s monarch and the silverworks had always been interested in finding new and lucrative deposits of precious minerals and dispatched a few special Saami “silver hunters” to criss-cross the mountains of Sarek and Padjelanta in search for new silver veins to be mined.
But, Kvikkjokk and the smelting works had their problems. Not only was it difficult to find skilled laborers for the different routines and responsibilities for separating and smelting tasks, but the Saami “silver hunters” were afraid of retaliation from their peers for showing were new silver deposits were to be found. One such Saami man was Pagge Andersson and, apparently being quite poor, he discovered a silver vein on the south side of a mountain called Alkavare. Pagge reported this to the head mine inspector of Kvikkjokk and was rewarded with felt and a silver mug. Thus, the Alkavare Silvermine came to life in 1672.
Photo: Like a deep cut in the rock, the remnants of the Ulrikes Mine from 1672 can still be found at Alkavare in Sarek National Park
Obviously, other Saami of Tuorpon Saami village were very angry with Pagge Andersson showing where new silver ore could be found. His find meant that more Saami would be conscripted into labor and forced to transport goods and ore for Luleå Silverworks. Punishment was handed out to Pagge Andersson by Tuorpon members.
They gave Pagge a new name and put a curse on him and his family. Forever after, Pagge and his future family would be called “Grufvisare” or “shower of mines” and Pagge’s decedents could only live in a small area of the mountains designated to them. A curse was put on the Grufvisare family, whereby the family name and all family members related to this name would die-out after seven generations. (True: the last sister in the family passed away in Gällivare several years ago)
With the start of the Alkavare Silver Mine, housing was built for the some 5-7 miners, but in some cases up to as many as 35, that would live and work the mine. With this, a work house was built to protect workers and ease the burden of separating rock from silver ore during the long winter and which came from the nearby mine holes of Collegie Mine, Ulrikes Mine and several other smaller mine holes.
Naturally, the Alkavare Mine didn’t profitably produce silver as was even the case for the Silpatjåkkå Mine and these two mines were abandoned by Luleå Silverworks in 1702. Afterwards, a few private entrepreneurs mined Alkavare but, again, without any satisfying results. Even in the late 19th century, Alkavare was subjected to mining by small time prospectors without any influential change of results.
Photo: The Alkavare Chapel in Sarek National Park and with an interesting history of its own
Today, the original building foundation and work house foundation can still be found at Alkavare and close to the chapel there. The larger mine holes and remnants are along the Kainai Stream, just to the north of the chapel, or down at the Mielätnö River at its start. It’s a beautiful spot and they say the sun always shines on the chapel. By the way, the large hole just near the front of the chapel is actually an older mine hole but is called the “coffee pit”, because tradition allows for coffee to be made there during the summer services held in the chapel each year.
Photo: Documentation and cataloging of the work house at Alkavare Silver Mine in 1993 by the research project “Old Mines of Jokkmokk”. Notice how much snow is covering Kainai Stream at end of June compared with the first photo (above) in this article.
Hiking: To get there requires several days hiking. The straightest way to hike there is from Staloluokta and almost in an eastern direction and the southern area of Alavare Lake and onwards to Alkavare Lake. But, to cross over Mielätnö River requires using the boats that should be placed at the mouth of the river. Caution: these boats are not always there or available! (Check with cabin wardens at Staloluokta or the church in Jokkmokk) You cannot wade across the river and must otherwise take an alternate route.
The safest way to get to Alkavare is northwards from Staloluokta along the Padjelanta Trail, across the bridge at Arasluokta then follow along the northern bank of Meilätnö River. About 4 days hike, but you’re on the right side of the river.
Next: Time-out from mines. Let’s learn about Jokkmokk’s Execution Hill and the winter market of 1822