Wednesday, August 6, 2008

World Heritage Copper Mine in Falun

Why are nearly all the houses and buildings in Dalarna "Falun Röd" Color? (Falun Red) The answer begins here at the Falun Copper Mine. This World Heritage Site was an interesting learning experience for us. Last year we had visited the LKAB iron ore mine in Kiruna, Lappland which is still in operation. It is run mostly by computers with the latest technology, only a few workers actually enter the mining area over 800 meters below the surface. In comparison, this mine was only operated by manual labor for much of its history. Learning something new every day! I now know that this symbol not only means FEMALE but it also means COPPER! Did you know that? (I don't remember much of my high school chemistry!)
Before our tour started, the guide announced that the elevator was broken and if we were to go on the tour we would be walking down and up 500+ steps. Mom and my father-in-law decided they weren't up to it so just Bo, my Dad and I went. (Maya & my mother-in-law stayed at the cabin.) My Dad is in GREAT shape but still I was a little worried about him.....he's 78 years old and he made it down and up again without any trouble! Yeah Dad!
Here's a view of the mine area from the outside....they know people started mining the copper here as long ago as the year 1000 ! By the 17th century it produced 70% of the WORLD's Copper! Now that's an important contribution to the world!
Hard hats on....coats handy....we are ready to head under the earth's surface! It was one of the hottest days during our trip 32 c (90 f) the cooler temps below were a welcome rest since there is not any air conditioning to speak of here in Sweden!
Down...down....down we go. Couldn't help humming the Dwarfs' song from Snow White...High-ho, high-ho it's off to work we go! Only the workers didn't go down by nice, stable stairs. They went down in buckets suspended over the hole!
Temp under ground 5 c (41 f)

Our guide was explaining how the workers would carry all their equipment & lunch hanging from their belts while holding a lit torch in their mouths to climb up and down these ladders to get to their work sites! Talk about a dangerous working conditions! scary!!! A thousand men worked in this mine during it's best operating time.
The men came into the mine on this bucket...standing on one foot, there could be up to 7-8 men standing on the edge as it went down. They simply jumped off at the level where they worked! YIPES! As far as I could see...this cavern under the bucket had no bottom. NOTE to friends in Sweden: the best rope for this bucket was made out of ox skin, it needed to be replaced every few weeks...therefore hundreds of ox were slaughtered for their skins, so there was a LOT of meat to make sausages. That's how FALUKORV got its name!
Falun Red paint?

"Then, as now, the buildings were painted in Falu Rödfärg, manufactured from ruddle, the red ochre from the mine. Red pigment has been produced on an industrial scale since 1764. Over the centuries, the red paint has brightened up the populated areas of Sweden. It has become a national symbol. In fact, Sweden is the only country to have an abundance of red houses with white corners and gable ends.

Falu Rödfärg has many good qualities. Apart from being attractive, it is easy to apply, effective and it provides good protection."

So there's the answer to the red house paint!


Lori S-C said...

very interesting! Having experienced several mine tours and about a billion factory tours, thanks to my father's love of assembly lines, I have to say that this post far surpassed most of my experiences. Except for the M and M Mars tour. I remember getting lots of candy at the end of that.

HomespunMary said...

Looks like you had a great time :-)

Anonymous said...

Hi Carol,

My name is Anna and I am a quilter who lives in Western Canada. I am a fourth generation Albertan - my grandfather's family came from Sweden in 1909. My grandfather was born in 1910 and went to Sweden in 1982. He died in 1988. We still have second cousins who have come to visit my mother and her siblings. Some of my second cousins live in Sundsvall and Ange.
My great grandfather worked in the Iron Mines in Malmberget Gallivare. My mother has done alot of work on family genealogy- it is very challenging to track down family names as they changed. For example my great grandfather's name was Nils Linneberg ( anglaised version) but he had originally been named Nils Gullickson. His father's name was Gulick Gullickson.The earlier grand parent was called Pers Person and his daughter is 's last name Persdottir and so it went on - I don't think the name changes still happen but doing the genealogy has been an interesting challenge.

I loved seeing the red horses- when my mother was there in 1992 she brought back some of the horses ( the small ones of course. They visited the areas where my ancestors lived. They saw the land that my ancestors walked and the houses that they lived in. One day I hope to visit Sweden.
Sweden is such a gorgeous country - there are many similarities to the foothills of Alberta where my grandparents farmed.
I have enjoyed visiting your blog and seeing the pictures of the places you've visited. I love carl Larsson's work and have two prints that hang in my kitchen. Thank you for sharing your pictures of your travels.

I am kindergarten teacher - in September I will begin my 31 year of teaching. I teach a full day kindergarten class ( 5 days a week) in a school that provides Cree as a second language. We offer cultural programming as well as a strong academic focus for our students.

I enjoy quilting and have made many quilts - I look forward to returning to your blog and seeing what you are up to in Sweden.

Regards from a Western Canadian Quilter,