Visnes Mine Museum
In its day Visnes Copper Mine was the largest and most modern in Northern Europe. Operating in two periods between 1865–1972 the mine produced 4.2 million tonnes of unrefined copper, zinc and sulphur.
Visnes Copper Mine was a great believer in modern technology and a very early advocate of technical innovation:
1875 Pneumatic drills used for the first time in Norway
1880 The telephone arrived in Visnes just four years after its invention
1885 Visnes installed electric lighting
1887 The Old Mine produced 82% of Norway’s iron pyrite ore.
In 1882 we are told that Visnes was “Norway’s largest workplace”, with almost 1000 workers at the peak. In just a few years the hamlet at Visnes was transformed to become a thriving mining town, with almost 3000 inhabitants, school, hospital, dairy and shops.
Operation of the mine was courtesy of Charles Defrance, a French engineer. A true nature lover and believer in the outdoors, he created a large area of parkland and riding trails for his supervisors and clerks. Today the trails are a popular walking area. A walk to the remains of the building that was once the Smelting Shed on the foreshore is highly recommended. Children will also love the adjacent playground.
Today the site includes a large expanse of recreation area near the 730-metre deep Old Mine. Apart from the derelict Smelting Shed, buildings include the management offices, two mining cottages and Fransahagen gardens. Copper from Visnes was used on the world-famous Statue of Liberty in New York harbour. A much smaller version of the statue commemorates the connection here at Visnes.
Visnes is also one of many strategic locations along the Norwegian coast where the Occupation Forces established coastal forts during WWII. The massive structures are still in evidence.
Guided tours are offered, including peasant re-enactments with 19th century crofters’ lunches. Children will enjoy playing at being a miner. Who knows, you may find a lump of glistening copper pyrites in the wash trough!
Visnes Mine Museum is open all summer, and otherwise by appointment.
Sundays from 10th June – 23th September 12-16. 2 July – 17 August: Sunday-Friday 12-16.
T: 934 10 061/922 66 477. Epost: firstname.lastname@example.org. Visnesvegen 380, 4262 Avaldsnes.
Open cafe Sundays 12.00-17.00 from 1.May-1.October, or by appointment. T: (+47) 405 24 285. email@example.com
N 59° 21.178′, E 5° 13.199′