My Saami Walking Stick…

…was a subject for comment today, as we were preparing to jump into Jeppe and take a walk on Houss, the southern point of East Burra, Shetland. A local resident came by and, as I was putting my walking stick in the vehicle, the person said something like, “Well, ya taking your spear with ya?” My first thought was, “Spear? What spear?”, but understanding that he didn’t know about it, I quickly mentioned it was a Saami style walking stick.

Afterwards, I felt it was high-time I wrote about a Saami walking stick. Perhaps other Shetlanders, who see me walking around with it in my hand on walks, or a portion of Swedish or international readers, would find this topic interesting. The walking stick and its use has been superbly developed by the Saami for thousands of years. So, let’s take time to explore the wonders of, what I call, the Saami walking stick.

Photo: In the Swedish mountains, the Saami walking stick means safety and friendship when alone

Photo: In the Swedish mountains, the Saami walking stick means safety and friendship when alone

Construction and Use
Basically, the material is birch. Birch has the qualities of an intertwining fiber, making it exceptionally strong, and considerably lightweight when dried. When choosing a stick, one wants a young tree specimen, as uniform in thickness along its length as possible, but thick enough to support the weight of its user plus the weight of a backpack. It should be as straight as possible with few branches, so it isn’t so knotty or rough. When these ingredients are had, the total length defined should be at least a little more than the length of its user.

Since birch is abundant in northern Sweden, it can be smart to choose several walking stick specimens until you understand and recognize what is best for you. If needed, ask permission from the landowner.

Once chosen, you will shave the birch bark off the stick. This helps with the drying process. A new green walking stick will be soft and flexible. After removing the bark, it will dry and become stiffer and harder during the summer. Also, cut and smooth away the branch parts. This should leave the stick smooth and allow your hands to glide along the length of it.

Once made, the Saami Walking stick is to be carried, either in a hand or cradled like a rifle, and used to give support to the upper weight of the user with a backpack or when wading across deep rushing streams, which is why it should be a little longer than the user. The thicker end of the stick points downwards as you use it. This allows for a more gentle swing, weight at bottom, with a back to front movement. It is to be used to keep balance on stones or uneven ground to prevent slipping or twisting an ankle, which can be a life or death situation when in the Swedish mountains.

The stick is not supposed to be used as an “elbow warmer”. In other words, it isn’t supposed to be held upright in your hand and mark-off every other step as you’re walking/hiking. You can shift hands or positions while hiking. Should you twist an ankle, the walking stick can be your “third leg” to safety. So, take care of it as a good friend.

On Shetland
Now, Why did I take a Saami walking stick to Shetland? Well, there are a few good reasons.

Shetland doesn’t have any trees and there isn’t anything natural around to lean up against. My Saami walking stick allows me something to lean and rest on at shoulder height. It often helps me keep balance as I walk the countryside, since I look around a lot and not pay attention to the ground. Shetland is littered with hundreds of rabbit holes half-hidden in the grass. I also have use for it as a portable monopod when I use my binoculars or camera instead of finding a suitable rock to crouch down at. My walking stick is 2 mt and I can use it as a measuring tool.

Photo: Whale Wick, with its cliffs and jagged rocks, is one example of Shetland's coastline

Photo: Whale Wick, with its cliffs and jagged rocks, is one example of Shetland's coastline

And finally, I knew that Shetland has a shoreline of rocky cliffs with strong winds. So, besides the function of making walks or climbing easier, I wanted the safety of a three-point base when near the edge of Shetland cliffs during wet windy weather. Don’t want an unnecessary newspaper article, do we? .

So, anybody out there wondering why I carry a “spear” around with me, it’s O.K! I understand. I just know that I’m in safer hands with my Saami walking stick than if I was without, and I’m glad that the chances of getting hurt or falling while walking alone are less when I carry it with me.

Ocean Garbage…

…is a fact that inlanders hardly are aware of. Possibly, when visiting a coastline during vacation, through a television program or the isolated article in the local newspaper, people living away from salty shores may get a small insight of all the refuse and waste that exists in the oceans. It wasn’t until I started walking the shores along Shetland that the variety and amount of floating scrap became apparent, and I earlier wouldn’t or couldn’t conceive how the world is polluting the seas until coming to this tiny group of Atlantic islands.

And, the garbage is very real! While taking walks along a nearby part of Shetland’s shores, the beachcomber comes out in me. Eyes pointed downwards, I search the deposits of freshly washed up kelp for some special seashell, piece of wood, hunk of amber or rare maritime artifact but, after a short time, realize that a large percentage of beached debris is manmade polyethylene.

The garbage becomes more apparent as I glance higher up along the beach or shore, where many years of accumulated crap can be found. It’s mind-boggling with the ropes and netting material, plastic containers and water bottles that are pushed on shore or slowly disappearing into the sands. One distressing thought is the seals, dolphins or birds that can, and do, get tangled into this junk.

Occasionally, I can consider who’s to blame for this mess. It isn’t Shetland’s fault that somebody else’s garbage blows up on its shoreline! It’s hardly the fault of the people visiting the beaches, though in some cases the odd soda can or forgotten shoe can be had. And, can one really blame the ships or fishing vessels out to sea, when fighting heavy winds as their fishing nets are torn away or loose equipment wash overboard?

If I remember right, about three times more garbage is thrown into the seas than the amount of fish taken. And, there is so much debate about EU fishing quotas and so little said about keeping the ocean clean…? It just seems baffling. Where are the champions for keeping our oceans clean?
Photo:Meal Beach

In an attempt to suggest something positive, I want to highlight that Shetland sets aside time and money to clean-up its shores. Each year, residents are invited to participate in a road and shore clean-up and literally hundreds take time to handpick scrap off of the beaches etc. The council provides and allocates funds for pick-up and hauling of the collected garbage.

I think this is commendable! Both the council and especially the volunteers need to be patted on their backs for this great effort. Unfortunately, the crap keeps blowing in from the seas at a regular pace and almost defeats the purpose.

Think, if more and more of us would refuse using non-degradable polyethylene where possible? One idea that I try to practice, is to pick-up some beach scrap and carry it home for disposal each time I go for a walk. Think if everyone did this as they visit Shetland’s shoreline? Could be a great habit and good idea?

Here It Has Stood…

This, the soldier of strength,
This, the gatekeeper of Mousa Sound.
This, the sentinel of Shetland
Watching over its destiny… its past.
No lime, nor cement, nor earth, sand and water.
Dry stone built, with precision and intent.

Thirteen meters of ancient architecture…
The wind still whistles around its kiln-like tower
And the rains still cut into its moss covered shell
The sun still pushes on its back, its side, its front
And it still stands as it has…for 20 centuries

The shadows who gave it birth,
Who breathed life into it,
Stone after stone after stone
Worn, heavy with sweat and anticipation
Are nearby, yet, have journeyed onwards… elsewhere.

This tower, this broch of Mousa Isle
Solid, daring, watching, remembering
So many, many lives
Once warming, once sheltering…protecting
Now tolerant, patient, reliant
Inviting in its secrets
Forever, standing guard over its waters

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.

Snow Conditions in Lapland…

…this year was something I reported on earlier. At that time I mentioned how much and how heavy the snowfall had been.
Now, as we approach the middle of April, I can stoutly announce that this winter has been exceptional with snowfall. Snow depths around Jokkmokk can reach up to 1.3 meters (appx. 4 ft 3 in) and, last weekend, when everyone was relaxingly believing that spring warmth was finally approaching and the roads were all dry and free from snow, we got hit with 35 cm (appx. 1 ft) of snow in one night!

resize-of-dsc_0154.JPGPhoto: Thank God for snowblowers!

Many in Jokkmokk are commenting on the snow amount and depth and many are running out of space for snow removal reasons. Should we get a whopping load of sunshine and heat and should the snow melt rapidly, there could be a real risk of unusual flooding this spring due to the amount of snow and the ground being frozen.

Summarizing, snow is no longer very “romantic” anymore.

Do you need a guide…

…to hike in Laponia? Probably a good question this time of the year as many are working on vacation plans for this summer. And, when you think of the costs for guided tours as well as personal equipment and costs to get to Jokkmokk, it would be wise to think double hard about guide services.

tarrapath04.jpgPhoto: A small group of hikers crossing Palkat Stream in the Tarra Valley

The background to so-called “Laponia Guides” is that, after close to 10 years of doing nothing more than erecting a few signs, Jokkmokk and Gällivare municipalities had to market and advertise “Laponia” in order to sustain, or at best, create new income areas within tourism. Through EU project fundings, the Laponia Group was created to get the ball rolling. A few people were employed in this temporary project group. A website was created, and a course in “Laponia guiding” was started, where participants would receive an “official Laponia guide” diploma. (It should be added here that this project doesn’t exist anymore and people are grappling for new ways to make an income)

Participants in these courses were mostly motivated to attain diploma status, a status to prove a person’s knowledge of Laponia and give them a “legitimacy” with guiding, but the participants had very little, if any, experience in dealing with people or even quality time in Laponia to such a degree that locals would almost feel uncomfortable. I feel it was like start-a-business-and-hope-to-learn-on-the-way. One can ask, does a diploma make a person a guide and does this diploma signify quality?

But, everyone was happy. It was a win-win situation. Long-term unemployed people could start new businesses as tour guide operators and the Laponia project could show they actually did something other than warm chair seats.

The key thought with all this is that, since the end of the 19th century, people have been hiking in Laponia without needing a guide! So, Why need guides now? The answer is probably to satisfy the egos of community leaders, possibly create a new market saving communities from financial decline and to instill a belief that visitors are incapable to hike in Laponia without this…uh…guide person.

If you want to go hiking in Laponia, all you need is some equipment, a little knowledge with map reading, some experience with tenting, an eye on weather conditions, being out in the bush and… plain old common sense! Just follow the paths. Not hard, eh?

resize-of-churchcoffeestalo01.jpgPhoto: Laponia hikers at the yearly church services at Staloluokta. WHICH ONE IS THE GUIDE?

What people need is extra equipment. Like a kajak or canoe. What Laponia needs is an outfitter…they don’t need people portraying themselves as guides and who need a yearly income to be able to live in the area. If anything, beginner Laponia hikers need a few hours of common sense talking with an experienced Laponia hiker and…off they can go.

With a correct frame of mind, investigations and planning of a hiking trip and some risk management, most people don’t need to follow in the footsteps of a guide to enjoy Laponia. Most people shouldn’t want to shell-out between 12,500 SEK (£1,034)-16,500 SEK (£1,328) extra to follow after these guides and most people should need to use their savings for travel costs, basic equipment and food needed to get so far north. It’s all a bit of a scam, really, for people to fall for.

If people need anything, it is the confidence to not be so easily led to believe they need a guide to hike in Laponia! Think about this!

“Lampik Executed for Murder”…

…would have been the appropriate headlines if there had been a newspaper in Jokkmokk in 1823. A journalist would have been one of twenty or so men, women and children that were ordered to watch the execution of Påhl Larsson Lampik, for the murder of his older sister Lotta (Lohtsa) Påhlsdotter Lampik just a year earlier, and he would have reported these details for any readers. The execution took place east of “Death Pond” in Jokkmokk, February 17, 1823.

According to the court records of the time, Påhl Larsson Lampik, a short 4 ft. 3½ in. (1.42 mt) 25 year-old, believed to be a “weak” person, having learning difficulties and known for a rowdy behaviour, was left at home with his sister. The father, Påhl Lampik, had skied to the winter market in Jokkmokk. Thrity-two year old Lotta Påhlsdotter, quick to learn, honest and respectful had charge of attending the reindeer and sheep.

When the father returned from market, Sunday the 24th of February, niether Påhl Larsson Lampik nor Lotta Pålhsdotter could be found. Reindeer and sheep were unattended and there were several storage houses broken into with things scattered all over the snow covered ground.

With the aid of a local official, the father searched the area. After a couple of days of light snowfall, it was somewhat difficult looking for signs of anyone, but they finally found Lotta Pålhsdotter face down in the snow by a fishermen’s hut near a frozen lake. Påhl Lampik and the official brushed the snow off her body, turned her over and found that her hair was matted with frozen blood from several deep cuts in her head. They took her body to a neighbouring house when, afterwards, Påhl Lampik skied to Jokkmokk and told constable C. M. Granström what had happened.

The constable sent out requests concerning the whereabouts and detention of Påhl Larsson Lampik. Apparently, Påhl Påhlsson Lampik had been seen and held by Johan Petter Chrisophersson, Tjauruträsk, near Gällivare. Lampik was sent back to Jokkmokk for questioning, was arrested for murdering his sister and went to trial March 28, 1822.

During the trial, witnesses explained how Lotta Pålsdotter was found, how her skull had been violently split in five places, that a couple of these cuts had gone deep into the brain, and that she had a large cut on her left arm. She obviously died instantly. (It can be noted here that the autopsy was conducted by a surgeon E.M.Waldenström, Luleå, who had taken 7 days using three horses to get to Jokkmokk and charged the court a little more than 44 Swedish Kronor for his services.)

When Påhl Larsson Lampik was summoned to witness, he explained that on the morning of Feb. 18, Lotta and he went out to gather hay and to feed the animals when they started to argue. He became angry and left his sister. He went back to the village, where he forced open all the storage houses, stole a reindeer steak and some flour and went to the Lampik “hut” and started to make dinner for himself.

After this, Lotta Påhlsdotter apparently returned to their “hut” and became angry. Påhl Larsson Lampik entered into a struggle with his sister and, after grasping the small ax his sister was known to carry in her belt, hacked his sister in her head several times killing her.

He stayed in the village that evening and the next morning, after letting loose the sheep and killing one lamb for food, tried to escape towards Luleå. After reaching Harads, he changed direction towards Gällivare, where he was captured by Christophersson.

Påhl Larsson Lampik had earlier been convicted of reindeer theft and punished with being placed in irons, strapped to a pole and given 12 whiplashes. At his murder trial, he explained his deed as being under the control of “evil powers” and was not to blame for killing his sister. And, he added, he was only defending himself because his sister had hit him.

The court found him guilty of murdering Lotta Påhlsdotter and sent Lampik to the regional prison until he would be summoned back to Jokkmokk for execution.

In 1823, almost a year after his trial, Lampik was transported back to Jokkmokk and the winter market, together with an executioner. February 16th, he was locked in a small timbered shed, east of “Death Pond” and near the road from Luleå at the top of a hill overlooking the Lule River Valley.

The next morning, February 17th, all the men, woman and children of Jokkmokk were forced to attend the execution as witnesses that murder would not be accepted in Jokkmokk. A small, probably very cold and scared Påhl Larsson Lampik was taken from the shed towards the chopping block where, after laying his head down, he was beheaded by the executioner’s ax. Rumor has it that it took two ax swipes before Lampik’s head was severed from his body.

Påhl Larsson Lampik’s head and body parts were nailed up on poles along the old road from Luleå to warn people of the consequences for murder. These body parts hung there for several months and were finally taken down and buried in the grounds nearby. Murderers were not allowed to be buried in “blessed” churchyards.

resize-of-re-exposure-of-dsc_0377.JPGPhoto: “Exectution Hill” as you approach central Jokkmokk along Rt 97 from Luleå-Boden

In Jokkmokk, the place of execution is somewhere at the top of the small hill, which the road from Luleå follows as one approaches the central part of Jokkmokk. Still today, people in Jokkmokk always refer to this slope as “Execution Hill”.

References: Tingsprotokoll, Jokkmokks Dombok 1822
Norrbottens Hembygd för Tidskrift 1924, Häft 3
Döds- och Begravningsboken 1823, sid 60 rad 3

PS- Sorry this was late coming. I had/have very much to do just now. My apologies!