We had been eyeing this tour underground to the silver mines in Kongsberg for years! And finally, in September 2021, it happened. This particular web of Silver Mines is the largest in Norway, and operated from 1623 until 1958 – producing a total of over 1.3 million kilograms of silver! Before going in and down the King’s Mine via the loud mining train, we visited the Norsk Bergverksmuseum (The Norwegian Mining Museum) nearer the city center of Kongsberg. It features the history and development of the mining industry in the area.
According to Wikipedia, they first mined copper in the 15th century. In the 1540s, they found silver-containing lead ore. Eventually, in the 1620s, they discovered silver deposits! Photos in the museum taken with spoken permission.
In the museum, one can learn about almost everything about mining and minting (not just the history of the Silver Mines), from the heaviest and more complicated machineries, to simpler and more user-friendly devices.
Aside from mining, the museum also has an exhibition of glassware, copperware, silverware and sports trophies/cups! Good donations from Norwegian sport champions! And private citizens, of course. The only thing I possess which can be donated to a museum are my postcard collection, I think. I.e., if someone would be interested to read them all. Hehe
And then, there were weapons.. Kongsberg gruppen is an international company which produces high technology systems to be used in merchant marine, defence, aerospace, offshore oil and gas industries, and renewable and utilities industries. Founded in 1814, their revenue in 2018 was only a whooping 14.4 billion NOK!
Now, into the actual mine! The Silver Mines are located in different spots. Specifically, the King’s Mine is about 8-9 kilometers from the museum. There, we learned the legend of the children Helga and Jakob. They were tending their sheep when the ox they had with them accidentally scraped the side of the mountain. They saw something glittery, and took it to their father who recognized it as silver. He then melted the metal and tried to sell it in Skien in very low price. I assume he did not know the exact worth of silver. However, the police threatened to imprison him due to suspicion of theft. He was then forced to tell where the silver was found – in Kongsberg!
Upon entry, we were given a set of earplugs. Going down the mine in a small train was very exciting, but I would not recommend it to people who are claustrophobic or afraid of the dark. The wagons were literally very small, and very loud! But the ear plugs did their job good.
I can’t recall how long the trip into the mine was, but it was cold, bumpy and very dark. According to their website, it was 2.3 kms into the mine. The wagon took us about 500 meters below sea level, or 1.6 kms below the earth’s surface.
We were divided into groups, and because it was difficult to maintain distance, we were asked to put on facemasks. We put on helmets, and one was assigned to be at the back of the line, making sure that everyone was following the tourguide.
We learned a lot during the tour. For instance, to make the rocks brittle and easier to break, the miners had to burn them. Later on, ventilation shafts were made and placed overhead to avoid suffocation. Cool, huh?
I highly recommend this tour, not only for children, but for adults! Just mind that they operate only in summer. The Salt Mine in Wieliczka, Poland might be the best underground tour we had so far, but the Silver Mines in Kongsberg has undeniably its own charm!
This is all for now! More roadtrips to come 🙂 #spreadloveandpositivevibes
ALL PHOTOS AND VIDEOS ON THIS BLOG ARE MINE.