Small Communities…

… can easily allow for the development of new and innovating ideas more so than larger ones. Often small and unnoticed, these good ideas could be a hot tip for other communities and can be put into effect most anywhere. And, what more can be of interest to other communities than another novelty idea for diminishing carbon footprinting with plastic shopping bags?

In Shetland, at the Lerwick Co-op food store, customer alternatives to plastic shopping bags are the self-service type often found at the end of the check-out counter or “bring-your-own” bags. But, if you’ve forgotten the latter alternative, shoppers can buy (10 pence) large sturdy plastic bags at the counter. Now, this may not be news to many, but the really cool idea with these stronger plastic bags is that, when they wear out or handles break, you can return and replace the bag for a new one… at no extra cost!

At most grocery stores, selling wines and liquors off the shelves seem to be a normal expectation. Again, purchasing a few bottles of your favorite chardonnay, aged scotch or even several liters of milk cartons means carrying these in plastic bags. Well, again the local co-op provided free carrying bags specially made for bottles and/or similar cartons. These work extremely well for shoppers. For more info about U.K. Co-op and its use of plastic bags see…info

Or, there are fine examples of small local Shetland grocery stores going the whole way. They simply stop providing plastic bags altogether! Now, that was an interesting idea, wasn’t it?

So, think about these little ideas and go to the grocery or liquor store of your choice and suggest they do the same or similar. Then, as a consumer, consider your own plastic bag habits. Perhaps they need refined?

Travel and New Countries…

…almost always give new perspectives and new knowledge. After having researched older mines in the Jokkmokk mountians for many years, I’ve collected a few enticingly interesting things that I carry around in my back pocket. Things that add to the history of older mining but don’t carry a lot of weight to justify in-depth studies.

One of these things is a small portable forge I had found in Ruotevare, northwest of Kvikkjokk. The remains were just that…remains and difficult to understand how it worked. It was a simple construction, about 1 meter in height, once having leather bellows and a deep table where wood charcoal was put and a fire lit to heat iron drills so these could be sharpened.

Photo: A 19th century portable field forge by Alldays & Onions, Birmingham found in the mining remains of the Falk-Nila Mine in Laponia/ Padjelanta Nat. Park in Jokkmokk

Interestingly enough, I stumbled over another one, thus making two, when doing an inventory of the Falk-Nila mining remains. Besides being a somewhat different model, this one presented new information. It was made by Alldays & Onions in Birmingham with probable offices in London. An archaeologist, participating in the 2006 project, learned that this odd named company still exists and it has origins from the 17th century with specialties in mining equipment.

So, it was really fun to have visited the Aberdeen Maritime Museum and find a “rivet forge” on display. Even more fun was to find the very same model of this rivet forge on display at the Shetland Museum. If I remember right, even the mining museum at LKAB has one.

Photo: A portable “rivet forge” displayed at the Aberdeen Maritime Museum being the same model found at Ruotevare

According to a museum attendant at Aberdeen Maritime Museum, the simple rivet forge was probably copied and manufactured by a big shipping company in the late 19th century. The reason being that 19th century shipping companies were powerful enough to copy and produce machinery they themselves needed…in spite of stepping on other’s patents. An interesting thought!

Now, a conclusive thought. If these portable forges are so interesting that museums outside of Sweden and that LKAB has them on display, Why is it so difficult to get anyone interested in getting, conserving and displaying the ones I’ve found in my research or even the unique cast iron stoves from latter 18th century at Silpatjåkkå? Or, is this just a Swedish thing?

PS– I want to thank everyone that have written comments to “The Great Adventure” blog!

The Falk-Nila Silver Mine…

…in the Jokkmokk mountains was a result of continued searches for silver already during the later half of the 17th century. Silver ore, which eventually led to the Falk-Nila Mine, was first mentioned during this intense period of discovery. Through the years, many people knew about it, but no one worked the silver until the end of the 19th century.

Looking back – With a silver mine already having been established at Silpatjåkkå (1660), the Swedish monarchy felt it necessary to send a commission to this isolated mountain area. The commission’s goal was to inspect and report on operations in order to guarantee successful royal mining investments and suggest changes necessary to make the operations more effective and profitable.

Photo: Panorama view of the Falk-Nila Silver Mine area, Padjelanta Nat. Park in Laponia

Daniel Drefling, head of the 1670 commission visiting Silpatjåkkå, wrote to the king that there could very well be a new silver ore deposit nearby. One area was centered on the Fierrovare area, where two men seemed to be engaged with working a line of silver ore to the south of Silpatjåkkå. Another area was towards the northeast, where two other men were gathering loose rocks at Alkavare. Obviously, this later became the Alkavare Silver Mine in 1672.

But, Drefling also wrote to Stockholm that still another interesting discovery had been made by two men between Silpatjåkkå and Alkavare. This new area was at the base of the Junkka Mountain and nearby Lake Fästajaur. There were indications that Drefling himself was interested in mining this find, but the situation changed and Drefling was sent to boss over the Sala Silver mine in 1674 and efforts were apparently concentrated with working the Silpatjåkkå and Alkavare mines.

Later, Seger Svanberg reported on this unnamed area in his work of 1731. Another man, Joachim Kock, also knew about this untouched silver but had decided to start the silver mine at Kiuri in 1732 together with Svanberg. Later, Samuel G. Hermelin wrote about it in his “History of Minerals” from 1804 but he decided to engage himself with the Ruotevare Mine northwest of Kvikkjokk.

It wasn’t until November 1892 that Robert Asplund, Luleå, received mining rights to “a still unexploited area” that a silver mine was started at the Junkka Mountain and Lake Festajaure. This was named Nila Silver Mine 1 and later Nila Silver Mine 2 was started. Asplund didn’t really work the mines and these were taken over by a N. E. Naselius in 1897. In 1898, still another claim was awarded to J.A. Falk and positioned nearby just a few hundred meters to the west of Nila Silver Mine. This mining area was later taken over by A. Forssén, a teacher from Luleå. Thus, the whole area was referred to as the Falk-Nila Silver Mine.

Photo: Claim defenses from the 1890’s and built within the Falk-Nila Silver Mine area.

During the end of the 19th century, very little silver was mined at Falk-Nila Silver mines. Mostly, and in accordance to the mining laws of the time, claim defences were built by a small handful of men which were housed in a makeshift dwelling near the mines. In 1908, the mines were granted permission to temporarily end operations but they never regained working status afterwards. Some 20-30 tons of lead were the result of the Falk-Nila Silver Mine during its peak years.

Photo: 1890’s remains of the small miner’s house at Falk-Nila Silver Mine

The Nila Ghost -An interesting tale connected with these mines is about The Nila Ghost. Seemingly, a miner, who once had worked as a seaman and was later working at the Falk-Nila Silver Mine as a miner, was famed for working dressed with a short-waisted seaman’s jacket and seaman-styled hat. Unfortunately, the man was killed in an accident involving dynamite and was buried somewhere in the area.

Still today, it is said that the Nila Ghost can be seen in the area…coming at the warning of crows and wearing his traditional seamen clothing and scaring people away while protecting his silver claims.

The Kiuri Silver Mine…

…, located just north of Tjåmotis, had a small part in Jokkmokk’s mining history. In 1729, several years after the1702 abandonment of the first mining works of Kedkevare and Alkavare, mining inspector Seger Svanberg was sent to Kvikkjokk to inspect seven possible silver deposits that had been reported.

During his stay that year, Svanberg understood that Margareta Påhlsdotter had known that her grandfather had knowledge of a silver deposit and which he had worked about eight days with. The find was about 30 kilometers east of Kvikkjokk on a hill called Kiuri, though she couldn’t exactly describe where and that this incident happened when she was a little girl.

Other sources state that Nils Andersson, the bell-keep at Kvikkjokk´s church and owning a farm in the small village of Tjåmotis nearby Kiuri Hill is given the credit for information about silver. Regimental quartermaster Joakim Kock supported this information and even regional magistrate Gabriel Gyllengrip suggested that Andersson be presented with a silver bowl as a reward for the find in 1732.

resize-of-kiuribodar01.jpgPhoto: Older log storage houses of Tjåmotis. Kiuri Hill in the background

In his journey to Lapland in 1732, the Swedish botanist Carl von Linneus wrote of actually visiting Kirui with Seger Svanberg and Joachim Kock on the morning of July 3 that same year. He noted that Kiuri was quite high and exploitation attempts had begun on the silver ore that could be easily seen.

Evidently, trenching for silver had been started at Kiuri, 45 kilometers east from Kvikkjokk and 250 kilometers from Luleå. The silver deposit faced westards and was almost perpendicular down the hill for about 4 famnar. During that same first year, Svanberg further explained that work was carried out on trenching consisting of fourteen days work which expanded the trench to 4 famnar in width and 5 famnar in depth and that “one had to use a rope to lower themselves down with”.

From this first exploitation, Svanberg determined that the quality of silver was unreliable and had difficulties in understanding why the Mining Collegiate would consider covering more costs. He continued to mention that in spite of this poor quality, gentlemen and directors from the Mining Collegiate of Västerbotten had sent 10 workers to continue exploitation during the summer of 1733.

It is slightly unclear if the Mining Collegiate from Västerbotten had actually continued to work the silver trenchings in 1733 or that, if only in part, the regimental quartermaster Joakim Kock figured in some way with the operations.

Through the state (king’s) Mining Collegiate in 1734, Joakim Kock received full privileges over the silver works at Kiuri. This designated that Kock was allotted the use of the mining tools from the earlier Luleå Silververk operations and which were still in storage in Kvikkjokk. How much silver was actually mined and shipped out by Kock is uncertain.

Undoubtedly, Kock was an ambitious but frustrated man. In several letters to the Mining Collegiate, Kock complained that the Saami were not willing to tell of any possible silver ore deposits that could result in exploitation. Once, he suggested that the Saami, who told of new deposits, would be freed from paying taxes and those, who kept new finds a secret, would be punished. He also felt that the Saami who shunned their responsibilities as citizens should be “chased out of Sweden with wives and children and their grazing grounds should go to others who have respect for the Swedish Crown”. (Clearly, Kock’s ethnic opinions were of his alone and not necessarily mirrored those of local or general populace.)

Since Joakim Kock’s entrepenuership at Kiuri, it is unclear whom, if anyone found the silver interesting enough to further mine it. In 1796, mining adviser Samuel Gustaf Hermelin visited Kiuri and the older mining works. With this visit, he found the trenching to be 7 famnar long, 3-4 famnar broad and 5 famnar deep. There were signs of the use of an auger that may have resulted from work after Kock.

resize-of-kiuri02.jpgPhoto: A claim defense built near the end of the 19th century on Kiuri Hill

J.A. Falk, a correspondent from Boden and Svartbjörnsby, together with Gabriel Nilsson, a small farm owner from Skatamark, applied for a prospecting license for Kiuri at the Office of Mining Inspection in the borough of Norrbotten in Luleå, November 29, 1889

In their handwritten application, Falk and Nilsson explained that they had intentions of exploiting “an ore deposit consisting of lead glance and situated on the southwest point of Kiuri Hill which lies on the king’s land about ¾ miles north of the village of Tjåmotis in the area of Kvikkjokk.” On December 7, 1889 The Office of Mining Inspection awarded the two men with a prospecting license. The mining operations would be called The Tjåmotis Mine. Very little work was achieved and only resulted in the building of a few claim defenses.

Approximately twelve years later, Kiuri was the focus of attention for a new prospecting application. On June 19, 1901, small farm owners E.A. Jakobsson and L.V. Östlund, both living in Tjåmotis, made application for prospecting rights on Kiuri to the Office of Mining Inspection in Luleå. The Office of Mining Inspection on the 24 of June received the letter.

Jakobsson´s and Östlund´s application involved 8 mining claims primarily prospecting for iron ore. This application concerned a detailed description of where the mines were to be found, what ore was to be mined and how the claims where marked. A total of 8 concession claims where accounted for and were largely found along both sides of Kieures Creek. The names of these mines were “Avon”, “Hopp”, “Kraft”, “Sköldman”, “Oden”, “Tor”, “Gustaf” and “Säkerhet”

Surprisingly, the prospecting licenses, which the Office of Mining Inspection in Luleå issued to Jakobsson and Östling, consisted of only 7 concession claims. The “Kraft” Mine, and its license, was not found in the archives. Still, there were prospecting licenses for more concession mines than the original 8. These mines and a description of their location, were given the names “Freja”, “Jungfrun”, “Prins”, “Åive”, “Silver”, “Balder” and “Tjåmotis”.

Since Jakobsson & Östling, evidence of still further exploitation attempts or applications for prospecting licenses in Kiruna Hill can be found during the 1980`s.

resize-of-kiurijakobsson01.pngPhoto: To get details of older mining operations, the Old Mines of Jokkmokk project conducted interviews with local residents. Here, Kenneth Awebro is listening to Börje Jakobsson tell about earlier mining operations on Kiuri Hill at Jakobsson’s home in Tjåmotis.

According to Börje Jakobsson, a resident of Tjåmotis, the state owned mining company of LKAB had an interest from 1980 to 1983. Jakobsson had assisted in prospecting work as an employee for LKAB near and around Kiuri Hill in the company´s search for iron ore deposits. The work consisted primarily of test drilling in the lowlands south of Kiuri Hill and north of Tjåmotis.

In 1989, a new application for prospecting came to the Office of Mining Inspection in Norrbotten from Tetron Mining AB, Stockholm, a subsidiary company to CE-JI AB. The application, dated October 31, specified prospecting and mineral rights for gold in the area that would be called “Kiuri 1” and comprising of approximately 641 hectares. Svenska Cellulosa AB had land ownership and the Saami economic village of Jåkkakaska held land rights.

Evidently the most recent interest in minerals and prospecting at Kiuri Hill comes from the company Geoforum Scandinavia AB, Ludvika in March 1995. Geoforum was seemingly a subsidiary company of Finnmark Mining Ltd. The minerals that the company was interested in were copper, lead, zinc, aluminum and gold in an area of about 2800 hectares being called Tjåmotis West.

Today, remnants of the original silver mine from 1732 as well as more recent mining remains can be found on or around Kiuri Hill.

Note: The use of the older Swedish measuring system allocated 1 famn = 1.78 meters and 1 aln = 0.58 meters

The Tarra Valley Mines…

…, located within Laponia and Jokkmokk’s burough boundries, were first mentioned near the end of the 19th century. In his travels in the Kvikkjokk area, the Swedish geologist Fredrik Svenonius found deposits of magnesite (MgCO3) in 1882. These deposits were in the Tarra Valley area and 1893, magnesite deposits were found in the Säkok-Ruopsokvaratj area, approximately 25 kilometers northwest of Kvikkjokk. A sample from the Tarra Valley was sent to the Swedish Geological Survey laboratory where it was determined that the purity of magnesite ranged between 37-42%.

In 1895, searching for minerals and ore in the Tarra Valley led to the start of exploitation attempts. Seemingly, in 1897, interest in iron ore deposits in the valley was awakened and resulted in claims filed by a lieutenant H. Sandberg. More information about these iron ore claims has not yet been found.

resize-of-tarraforsvar01.jpgPhoto: A claim defense in the Tarra Valley. Antiloupta in the background

Also in 1897, application for prospecting and exploiting magnesite deposits was received by the Northern Mine Inspection (Bergmästareämbetet i Norr) by the Magnesit Aktiebolaget Tarrakaise company. This application concerned itself with 7 concession claims staked out on the western slopes of the mountain Hildo and 4 concession claims on the mountain Tarrakaise, now know as Antiluopta, and on the latter of these two were given the mine names “Bruden”, “Haren”, “Orren” and “Jägaren”.

Concerning “Bruden”, two horizontal mine shafts had been dug showing magnesite deposits at a length of 140 meters and a width of 5-11 meters. Magnesite ore at “Jägaren” was clearly visible for a length of 80 meters and a horizontal mineshaft of 7 meters was dug. No information has been found concerning work with “Haren” but several mineshafts had apparently been dug within “Orrens” claim area.

It is important to note that, in accordance to the mining laws of that era and which required prospectors to build so-called claim defenses consisting of rectangular mounds of rock or ore, such defense work was carried out in conjunction with the claims along Hildo.

Two more concession claims were made along or near the stream of Parturkårså and given the names “Partu 1” and “Partu 5”, though on an older mining map drawn by surveyor C.J.O. K___?___ in (Year), there shows only Patur 1 & 2. Further historical information about the Magnesit Aktiebolag Tarrakaise company is still being researched.
At the end of the 19th century, interest in mineral deposits at, not only the Tarra Valley but including the iron ore deposits existing at the Ruotevare Hill and the older silver mines of Kedkevare both northwest of Kvikkjokk, gave extremely optimistic hope for future exploitation. The mining works at Tarra Valley even included plans for building suspended cable conveyors that would transport magnesite ore from the higher mineshafts down towards the lower valley area for transportation onwards to coastal industries.

resize-of-tarraort02.jpgPhoto: A rediscovered mine shaft of the Tarra Valley mining area. Caution– because of years of ice and water erosion, do not enter these! Risk for caving in!

These plans and existing optimism led to a natural discussion of expanding railroad connections in the north and serious thoughts were given to building a railway through the Tarra Valley connecting main railways in Sweden with industries in Norway. The Tarra Valley, with its deposits of magnesite, lies in a northwestern to southeastern direction and is a natural geographical link towards Norway.

In his paper “The Iron Mountains of Ruotivare and Wallatj and The Silver Mines of Alkavare and Silbotjokko in Norrbotten” (1891), J.A. Falk argued the following…

“A future railway from Ruotivare would be built within a distance of some 12 English miles from Silbotjokko, so that a branch road from the latter place would not be expensive. For mining operations in a smaller scale…the most suitable course is via Sulitelma copper mines…a distance of only about 30 km. The ore could be refined there or brought further the short distance to the nearest harbour in Norway.”

Falk later continues with an economic calculation of building such a railway and writes, “The cost for constructing a railway of for instance the Decauville system…would be only about 3,300,000 kr”. He finishes his arguments stating, “The chief object of building a railway from Ruotivare to the coast of Norway would be of course to make the great mineral deposits profitable, but would be of importance in other respects too. When the railway is finished, the great lakes between Jockmock and Qvickjock would soon be navigated by small steamers and thousands of travelers (will) pass through this part of Scandinavia…”

resize-of-tarraort01.jpgPhoto: Inside view of a mine shaft at Tarra Valley

No railway was built and it appears that the Magnasit Aktiebolag Tarrakaise ceased existing as a company sometime at the end of the 1920’s. Further historical investigations are in process.

What seems to be the last evidence of interest in the Tarra Valley magnesite deposits was shown by Alvar Holmbom, probably of the Holmbom family from the nearby homestead of Njunjes, whom continued the search for newer cores of the mineral in 1923. Neither evidence of exploitation nor filing of claims from Holmbom has be found to date. And, very few actual mining remnants were cataloged by the project Older Mines of Jokkmokk during inventory work 1996

The Second Ruotevare Mine,…

…in Jokkmokk and Laponia, can be found some 12 km northwest of Kvikkjokk. Already in 1662, and in combination with the silver mines of Silpatåkkå in the Jokkmokk mountains, Isak Tiock wrote to the king about the discovery of a large and lucrative iron ore deposit. This deposit was so big that the mountain itself was more like an enormous chunk of iron ore. Tiock also explained that there was a river nearby for power as well as plenty of forest to make the needed charcoal to smelt the iron. He added that there were pastures for cows.

resize-of-re-exposure-of-ruotevarekvikkjvy03.jpgPhoto: Panorama view of Ruotevare northwest of Kvikkjokk. Taken from Garvek, south of Ruotevare.

Tiock suggested that, should the iron ore be mined, it would benefit the newly established silver works in Kvikkjokk. The smelted iron could then be freighted to Norway and sent by sea to the Swedish coastline where iron was very expensive. However, Tiock’s report of the iron deposit didn’t receive any greater enthusiasm with the Mining Collegiate. It was felt that starting mining operations for iron ore in the Kvikkjokk area would jeopardize the work with the silver mines and especially the limitations on the supply of firewood and charcoal. However, what would happen in the future was an open question.

The Swedish geologist Schefferus mentions iron ore in his renowned book about Lapland that was printed during the 1670’s. He had received a letter from Samuel Rheen, a church pastor assigned at Kvikkjokk, stating “In the mountains also was found a beautiful iron deposit, “Petziwari” named, one and a quarter Swedish mile above the smelting hut of Kvikkjokk where ore in a large open part falls off freely”. According to Rheen, no one so far had shown interest in investing in this deposit and, being in his position, he should have been well informed about the matter. Considering that Shefferus’s book was very popular and well distributed, this iron ore deposit must have been known about in the middle of the 17th century.

In the 18th century, Ruotevare’s iron ore deposit was not entirely unknown. On the contrary, it must have been well-known. During his historical journey to Lapland in 1732, the botanist Carl von Linné mentioned Ruotevare in his journals. Although not having personally visited Ruotevare, he wrote, “on the other side from the smelting hut (Kvikkjokk), westwards from Vallevare is wonderful iron ore but hardly worth the trouble to mine because of the difficult journey to Luleå”.

Considered as one of Sweden’s most powerful mining entrepenuers, Samuel Gustaf Hermelin showed a deep interest in Ruotevare, as well as iron ore deposits in Gällivare etc., at the end of the 18th century. In 1796, Hermelin had started several mining operations near and around Luleå where he also bought large tracts of land. He acquired privileges to build several smelting works and, during the summer of 1797, searched for strategic building of these in places such as Selet, Långnäs and Anajoki.

resize-of-hermelinsgruvstuga01.jpgPhoto: Remains of Hermelin’s mining cabin from 1798

After studying older documents and visiting actual places, Hermelin gained considerable knowledge about the iron ore deposits of Ruotevare. In his book, The History of Minerals, Hermelin writes about a 1797 independent study of Ruotevare by Carl Magnus Robsahm and information gathered from the diary of Claes Vallman, in the accompaniment of C.A. Hjorth af Ornäs, from a journey taken just a year before in 1796.

Miners were sent to Ruotevare intended to work with prospecting procedures Though not having found iron ore bedrock, they gathered together large boulders of pure iron ore. It was told of workers, hanging in a leather buckets, loosening iron ore from the overhang of a cliff with only hand tools that the ore would fall and could be rolled to a place were it later was transported off by proper means. He had a small cabin built nearby.

On the southeastern side of Ruotevare, prospecting efforts had resulted with workers scrapping off the outer layer of earth without finding iron bedrock and was described as “about half-way uphill, iron ore could be found using the needle of a compass crossing over the ground”. Larger amounts of iron, found in the cliff area of the mountain, were thrown down to see where they landed and, observing the results, it was suggested to make a stone path with which it would be easier to gather and transport ore on. Thereafter, this path was completed as well as the cabin which also housed the operation’s forge. This area was to be assigned with the Kamajokk homestead, an area from Fjällockjaur, towards the northwestern end of Routevare, over the mountain of Njåtsåsjåkkå and a short distance along Kamajokk River.

resize-of-hermelinsgruva01.jpgPhoto: The “Hermelin Wall” at Ruotevare

Accordingly, Hermelin employed two skilled rock blasters from Ädelfors in Småland and, together with three other local workers from Kvikkjokk, began work by blasting for iron ore and transporting this to Kvikkjokk. On the southeastern side, four prospects were blasted without finding any iron bedrock. From the earlier attempts along the cliff area, now known to be “Hermelins Wall”, iron ore debris could be gathered up and transported and, with extra workers, more ore could be hacked off the cliff to fall for gathering below. Together with a stone path and some lumber, the transportation of the ore could easily be carried out by horse or by reindeer.

With all his economic and philanthropical ventures, Samuel G. Hermelin eventually went bankrupt!

At the end of the 19th century, mining owners J.A. Falk and N.E. Naselius became interested in Ruotevare. Both were aware of the earlier exploitation attempts and work by Hermelin, a smaller stode pit found in the Helios claim area as well as his cabin that now lay in ruins. Besides a half meter high stone marking, little was evident from this earlier mining attempt.

Ruotevare had partially been an important part of the northern mining collegiate in Northern Sweden. So important that King Karl XIV Johan personally was involved with this development and iron ore from Ruotevare was designated specifically for Selets blasting furnaces just outside Luleå and near the Baltic coastline.

Mining Inspector Trysén reported that Gellivare Gruvaktiebolag analyzed and studied the possibility of building canals along the Lilla Lule River for freighting ore from Ruotevare and Karvek. This development gave no results due to the enormous costs involved and the Swedish State was not interested in being a co-operator as had been thought from the beginning.

In 1859, different entrepreneurs from Gothenburg filed ten claims but these claims were abandoned after one year. Seemingly, iron ore samplings from the area proved to be of poor quality and never resulted in any serious exploitation.

resize-of-routegruvstuga01.pngPhoto: Remains of Fredrik Svenonius’s mining cabin at Ruotevare

The Swedish geologist, Fredirk Svenonius, researched Ruotevare as part of his studies on Lapland at the end of the 19th century. During his 1877 journey, Svenonius passed Ruotevare and again visited the area September 14, 1891 where he could stay in a newly built cabin. He noted that the surroundings consisted of a majestic pine forest with some fur trees. A year later and together with an engineer Jungner, Svenonius returned to the mining cabin staying two days. In 1893, Svenonius again stayed for a day at Ruotevare.

During these last few years of the 19th century, the Swedish mining laws required that claims must be worked. As proof to these operations, the law demanded that each claim must show a number of so-called “claim defenses”. These were rectangular piles of rock showing distinct form and sides and consisted of bedrock or ore and inspections were carried out by the local minister as a guarantee before the workers would receive payment for their work. Concerning Ruotevare and nearby Vallatj, there are over 300 of these claim defenses built. Probably the highest concentration of claim defenses of this type and age in all of Sweden!

resize-of-ruoteforsvar01.jpgPhoto: An example of a “claim defense” from 1890 on Ruotevare. Garvek in upper right corner.

Interestingly enough, from inventory work of the project Older Mines of Jokkmokk, several claims had no defenses built, although historical records show the men received pay for these after the minister inspected and approved the work. This may be explained through bribery between the workers and minister and that both were rewarded through easy money.

Possibly the last interest in Ruotevare was in 1971, when the national power company “Vattenfall” did test drilling on the mountain. This work spanned a few years and Vattenfall could better determine the economic value of the iron ore as well as finding the existence of titanium ore. In spite of this, no actual exploitation was done.

Since then, Ruotevare has become a part of the World Heritage area of Laponia and two nature reserves have been set aside between Kvikkjokk and Ruotevare, thus protecting it’s future from exploitation.

But, as a last note, the English mining company Beowulf Mining has received the right to again test drill on Ruotevare. Beowulf Mining has several test drilling licenses in the Jokkmokk and Arjeplog areas. They haven’t done anything with Ruotevare, but it is interesting how little this company knows about Ruotevare’s history. Beowulf proclaims an enourmous iron deposit, which is true, but angles it’s information to give a portrait that exploitation difficulties are minimum and that iron ore can be found in piles on the ground…the claim defenses from the 19th century.

Footnote: Beowulf Mining will probably have big problems trying to work around these claim defenses, which are classified as cultural heritage remains and over 100 years old. With Beowulf’s interest in Ruotevare, as believably with many other modern mining adventures in northern Sweden, these intressts seemingly are to only increase the share value of their company’s stock holdings and, perhaps later, sell off their claims for a profit and to potential “wannabes” of the mining world.

The Alkavare Silver Mine…

… 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.

resize-of-161-6146_img.JPGPhoto: 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.

resize-of-alkavarekapell02.jpgPhoto: 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.

resize-of-1993sovringshus01.jpgPhoto: 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

If History repeats itself…

…then the story of the older silver mine of Silpatjåkkå, nestled in a seldom visited area of Padjelanta National Park, could very well have close similarities to today’s Jokkmokk. It’s a story of false hopes, egos and deceit and a dependency to subventions to keep it alive, though the inevitable downfall and abandonment fastly approached. Silpatjåkkå’s story is a 40 year old rise and fall with complicated details and many actors involved, but let’s briefly look at what it was all about…

Firstly, in the 17th century, Sweden had dreams of becoming a great power and was trying to establish a personal Scandinavian empire by attaining control over Finland, Russia, parts of Norway and other Baltic regions through its Great 30-year War. Secondly, we have to keep in mind that Europe’s economic theory during the 17th century was that of mercantilism. With the costs of warfare abroad and the need to be a key economic figure, the discovery of new silver mines, which increased economic values, within Sweden’s territory was a solution to both of these needs.

So, it wasn’t so surprising that, after a small invasion on the Nasa Silver Mine and its destruction by invading Norwegian troops in 1658, that King Karl IX demanded that new silver deposits would be searched for. One Saami scout, keenly knowledgeable of the mountains, the terrain and how to search for precious metals spoke about a new stretch of silver in Jokkmokk’s mountains. The man was Jon Persson, a Tuorpan Saami, and the place was “Kietiewarri”, or what was later to be named “Silbbatjåhkkå” meaning “The Silver Hill” in Saamish.

resize-of-kamajokkview01.jpgPhoto: The Kamajokk Stream gave energy to the smelting works at Kvikkjokk.

A state owned, or royal, company was formed called Luleå Silverworks and was responsible for and in control of Silpatjåkkå and its exploitation. Needing a mining foreman, the earlier mining foreman from Nasa Silver Mine, Isak Tiock, was chosen and sent to the Jokkmokk mountains to start working the prospect. Buildings, smelting ovens and forges had to be built and all this saw the birth of the little village of Kvikkjokk. Here was an ample supply of trees for charcoal and rushing waters for power to drive a water wheel.

The journey to Kvikkjokk was by foot and a series of rowboats. To get to the silver mine, hiking for the workers, horseback for higher ranking people and reindeer with sledges were the more common means of transportation.

The workers were conscripted in the same manner as soldiers at the time. They came from the eastern seaboard of northern Sweden and sent inland to work as miners. Many who were conscripted and were wealthy, paid themselves free of duty by sending someone less advantageous in their place. At the silver mine itself, a dwelling was erected for the miners, who spent most of the winter working in the open mine shafts or pumping out water in the summer months.

The Saami were also conscripted into serving the mine. They were paid for their transportation services, using reindeer and sledges to haul needed supplies to the mine and silver ore on the return trip back to Kvikkjokk. Some wealthier Saami, too, could pay themselves free from duty, sending a replacement for themselves, or many just escaped duty by going to nearby Norway.

resize-of-163-6352_img.JPGPhoto: A cast iron stove from the 1770’s at Silpatjåkkå

Whatever the situation, both workers and Saami had difficult working conditions. Both were to receive wages in the form of felt, sugar, tobacco etc. but the first few years showed that no one was getting paid. Isak Tiock, the mining foreman and known for his harsh treatment of the Saami at the Nasa Silver Mine, where he dragged Saami under the winter ice until they were willing to work or,more often, died of pneumonia, had refused to pay the miners and Saami of Luleå Silverworks and Silpatjåkkå. He cheated them out of their wages and kept this for himself. It wasn’t until after a royal commission visited Kvikkjokk and inspected the conditions there that he was fired from his job as mining foreman, charged and taken to court for his actions and eventually was jailed. Afterwards, both miners and Saami were paid in full for their work.

Through the years, many royal commissions were sent to Kvikkjokk to inspect the mines and the the king’s investments. Almost with each commission, requests for more money were given and more capital was poured into Silpatjåkkå silver mine. In 1672, another mine was opened in Alkavare and increased the investments. At its best, the Sipatjåkkå Silver Mine produced only some 550 kg of silver and 1500 kg of lead over a 40 year period, which ended in 1702. A small fortune for the times had been invested in the Silpatjåkkå Silver Mine but, in comparison, very little had been gained and the whole venture was an economic tragedy.

After 1702, several other private entrepreneurs gained rights to mine silver in Silpatjåkkå. Abraham Steinholtz apparently did some work in 1745 and Prof. Jonas Meldercreutz seemingly worked the mines in 1769. Small scale mining interests were shown in the late 19th century, though not necessarily for silver but for other minerals. Some companies are documented and others were unknown “wild cards”. Many came to Silpatjåkkå and went away with shattered dreams of easy riches.

resize-of-silpavy01.jpgPhoto: Hedwigs Mine from late 17th century as it looks today

In the early times of Silpatjåkkå, whoever was involved with wanting to resume mining at the place were granted a general tax relief, but no one could ever make the silver mines profitable nor economically in balance. Was a tax relief a motivation for interest in Silpatjåkkå more so than actually working the mine? As from the beginning, Silpatjåkkå would always be dependent upon state aid or other subventions for its survival. The village of Kvikkjokk had as many as some eighty people living there in the late 17th century. Now, there is only a handful of permanent residents and the village struggles without real signs of progressive development.

It should be added that Silpatjåkkå has been an object of historical interest and research since 1993. The research project The Older Mines of Jokkmokk, founded by Kenneth Awebro and Tim Senften, has successfully carried out extensive archival and field research of Silpatjåkkå and has found new information about the silver mine and its historical significance. The larger mine holes are still there, but new evidence has been discovered showing that a greater exploitation, than what was earlier thought of, has occurred. The original building sites from 1660 can easily be found together with the mine holes at 1250 meters above sea level.

Hiking Tips: A long days hike from Staloluokta. No direct path; use map and compass and follow the eastern side of Viejevagge Valley. The mine area is given on the BD10 map. Often foggy and poor weather at that height above sea level. Difficult to find a level spot for a tent. Please– this is an important heritage place so don’t disturb anything and pick-up/take-out all scrap!

Next: Alkavare Silver Mine- a complement to Silpatjåkkå

Jokkmokk’s Winter Market…

…officially started with a declaration from, at that time, the Swedish King Karl IX. Officially? Because there is no written evidence that can show a practice of having markets in Jokkmokk before this year, although it is quite probable. A market provided an opportunity for gathering, paying taxes, doing a census of the inhabitants and gave a reason for baptisms, weddings and any court or judicial work.

In 1632, silver was found in the Nasa Mountain region near Norway and was Norrbottens first silver mine. It was a privately owned venture, from owners in Piteå, and acquired a reputation of being harsh and unjust with the Saami, who many were apparently forced into labor to help with transporting silver ore.

resize-of-ruotevaregruvhalvy01.jpgPhoto: Older mine hole on Ruotevare as witness to Norrbottens very first iron mine from 1638

So, it wasn’t so strange that during the 1638 winter market in Jokkmokk, a man by the name of Hans Fillip Lybecker was found walking the path through the old market area of Jokkmokk. He was the regional mine inspector working with the Nasa Silver Mine. Imaginably, he was dressed in a wolf skin winter coat and wearing reindeer boots common for the Saami in winter. Perhaps, too, he was clothed in a wolf skin coat tied in the middle with a knife belt and carrying a pair of skis on his shoulders. Or, had arrived from Luleå by way of reindeer and sled?

However the situation was, Hans Fillip Lybecker was in Jokkmokk. He was waiting for a supply of goods that would be further transported to the Nasa Silver Mine. And not so unlikely, he was sitting in a dimly lit, but warm, dirt hut on Dalvatis Hill, in the middle of the bustling market place, staring into a candle on the table and sipping from a small flask of home brew to keep extra warm with, when two Saami unexpectedly rushed down into the hut searching for him.

As these two stood in front of Lybecker, they held in their outstretched hands a few large rocks. Hans Lybecker took the candle and held it closer to get a better look at the rocks and, to his amazement, found them to be iron ore. He asked the two Saami, “Where did these come from?” They explained that they had found the rocks on a hill some twelve kilometers south of Jokkmokk. The hill had a Saamish name. Kiälmä Åiffde, or Kielm Oiwe, meaning “Iron Hill” it was called and there was more of the rock to be found.

Next day, Hans Lybecker headed south for Kielm Oiwe Hill together with several other Saami who followed to help him. When having arrived, the Saami shoveled snow away from the ground and more iron ore samples could be gathered. It is always bitter cold and very dark during winter market in Jokkmokk and coldly unwelcoming in the nearby forests.

Hans Fillip Lybecker sent these samples by courier to Stockholm and Queen Kristina, who was the head of royalty at the time. She decided that this was an exceptionally rich find of iron ore and sent word back to Lybecker that she would grant tax privileges to anyone interested in mining the iron at “The Iron Hill”.

resize-of-ruotevaretillmakningvy04.jpgPhoto: searching for ore using the bonfire method from early 16th century

And, there were people interested! The richer citizens and farmers of Luleå, at that time Gammalstad or “The Old City”, wanted to exploit the iron in Jokkmokk that coming summer. Hans Fillip Lybecker would keep an eye on their progress and report this to Queen Kristina. The citizens and farmers were very enthusiastic with their attempts to mine the iron out of the ground, but they had no experience with mining and found the work very difficult. Seemingly, they were working the ground with ordinary axes trying to hack-out the iron ore in this manner.

Lybecker reported that the work was difficult for these Luleå citizens. The citizens worked the hill next coming summer, 1639, and finally gave up. Either because it was too much work and not enough profit or that Jokkmokk was too far from Luleå or… We don’t know more than they just gave-up and stopped working. Besides these notes, that Hans Fillip Lybecker wrote about this iron mine attempt, there exists a handwritten map showing where Kielm Oiwe can be found and how to get to it from Luleå.

This was the very first iron mine of Norrbotten. Many others came after and tried their luck at mining iron south of Jokkmokk. Among these could be mining adventurers like Regement Commisioner Olof Uneus, from Boden, who knew about “…Rutivare in Jockmock” and Carl von Linneus wrote about the iron ore in his Lapland travels of 1732. Prof. Jonas Medelcruetz or Abraham Steinholz was probably interested in Ruotevare’s exploitation in the 18th century as well as baron Samuel G. Hermelin och Jon Engström in the 19th century.

resize-of-ruotevareskarpning03.JPGPhoto: signs of prospecting from early 18th century

Lastly, there were many claims for Ruotevare during the 20th century. This time, not for iron but for deposits of feltspat and quartz. These were shipped by train to the smelting works in Porjus.

The last work done on Ruotevare was in the early 1950’s, when mine owner A. Thelin was killed. As he was climbing up a ladder, the charging caps he had in his back pocket accidentally exploded and he was rushed to the small hospital in Jokkmokk where he died. Today, there are plans of making Ruotevare into a nature reservation, but the remnants of over 350 years of mining still remain as an historical reminder for the residents of and visitors to Jokkmokk.

PS– A detailed historical account with remnant examples and cataloging results from research on Ruotevare can be found in a still unpublished report (2005) that Norrbottens Länsstyrelsen, Kulturmiljöenhet has. Call and ask about it! I can’t understand why they have difficulties with making this available to the public i.e. taxpayers? (Could it be that it is so well done, they just want it all for themselves?)

PSS– Today, February 1, 2008, I found a copy of the Ruotevare Report in the mailbox. Seemingly the report will soon be published on Norrbottens Länsstyrelsen website as well as hard copies can be had after it goes through the printers. Hats off for the regional government?

The older mines of Jokkmokk…

…have, in comparison to other parts of Sweden, a unique history. Yes, the silver mine of Sala, the copper mine of Falun and many other mines in southern Sweden can be older or larger, but, for being in Lapland and in an isolated area such as the Laponia mountains, Jokkmokks mining history is filled with a historically interesting and significant past.

As people progressed northwards in their search for a new life, some of the very first Swedes to push into the northern inland areas were miners and prospectors. Many of these came and went, but some stayed on after mining adventures and became the first settlers giving birth to small villages that still exist today. But, the story of searching for natural wealth and new settlements starts even longer ago. In the blog pages to come, let’s take a look at this past and briefly touch upon the stories of Jokkmokk’s older mines. To give a short but decent picture of these mines and better understand the story, we must first travel long ago back in time…

resize-of-dsc_0121.JPGPhoto: Jokkmokk’s and Laponia’s older mines take us into an exciting past

There were a lot of exiting things going on in Western Europe after the fall of Rome in the early middle ages (500-1000 A.D.) and a time when people started to move and explore more of the known world. One popular group at this time where the Vikings and one Viking king was known to have ruled over most of the northern Norwegian coastline and as far inland as the regions of Lapland. This was King Othere from Hålogaland. During his rule, he had declared that he had sole rights to all land between the Atlantic ocean and eastwards into Russia and he had the sovereign right to tax all inhabitants. In this case, the people living in this area were the reindeer breeding Saami.

Throughout history there are people taxing other people and either used force or cunning to reap in personal wealth. With the start of King Othere’s taxation on the Saami people, other groups of people believed they, too, had the right to tax the Saami during the next few centuries. These people were from Finland or eastern Russia and consisted of several groups, all doing trade with the Saami. The more popular of these unorganized groups were called “Birkalar” and were for centuries freelancing entrepreneurs selling their talents to collect taxes for different heads of state as they did trade.

During the 16th century, the Swedish King Gustav Wasa also proclaimed his right of ownership for all land between Russia and “the western sea”, or the North Atlantic, and entered into a contract with the Birkarls to collect taxes from the Saami for his part. Afterwards, the Birkarls worked for other Swedish royalty up until King Karl IX, who started free markets in the north of which the most popular was the Jokkmokk Market in 1604.

To pay taxes, the commodities that the Saami had at hand were natural goods. Furs, dried meats, fish etc. were the most common but, because of the Saami’s unique knowledge of the land and mountains from centuries of migration, they also knew about the value of pearls from freshwater mussels (Margaritana Margaritifera) and the clear quartz of Sweden called “Swedish diamonds”. A very small group of Saami even specialized in finding and collecting these two valuables and it isn’t unbelievable that freshwater pearls and “Swedish diamonds” were used to pay taxes. The latter, “Swedish diamonds”, was used as a substitute for flint to start fires with or flintlock weaponry.

With hundreds of years of taxation and the knowledge of the value of the “Swedish diamond” or quartz and its uses, it seems highly likely that the Saami paid taxes with quartz and mined small amounts of this in areas of Northern Sweden; among these near Jokkmokk in a place called “the iron hill” or Ruovddeváre in Saamish.

Next: Ruotevare– The first iron mine in Northern Sweden