Thamshavnsbanen: Museum railway and industrial history
A trip in Norway can bring you to many exciting sights and unique experiences. Whether it is children and youth in the car, or just adults, the diversity of interesting cultural treasures in Norway is great. A church building or a dusty museum will most people find to be a poor alternative to a water park or amusement park, but there are a number of exciting alternatives for both children and adults.
The Thamshavn railway is such a cultural experience. In old passenger cars of three you can travel by train between Bårdshaug at Orkanger and Løkken Verk. This stretch of railway, which winds through a varied landscape that offers steep exits, high gorges and tight curves, is in its entirety a protected cultural heritage. It was Norway's first electric railway and was built to carry ore from the mines at Løkken Verk to the shipping port at Orkanger. This last stop was "Thamshavn" - established by Wilhelm Thams, the grandfather of one of the two owners of Løkken Verk, Christian Thams. Together with Christian Salvesen, they built the two lanes, which were also established for passenger traffic. The course was expanded in two stages, and although the official opening was made by King Haakon VII in 1908, it was not until 1910 that the track progressed all the way to the mines at Løkken Verk.
This electric railway is built with a gauge of only 1000 millimeters. Most of the world's railways have so-called "normal tracks" of 1435 millimeters, while the popular "Tertitten" (Aurskog - Hølandsbanen) is even narrower with its track gauge of only 750 millimeters. The narrow gauge, electric drive and inclines of as much as 44 per mille (a height increase of 4,4 meters per 1000 meters mileage) make this train ride completely unique. Only Flåmsbana is steeper in Norway. Most of the stations that were built along the track are identical, and were produced by Strandheim Brug in Orkdal. The sawmill was originally established by Wilhelm Thams, but later taken over by the grandson. The buildings are made of lumber and are almost produced according to the "prefabricated house" principle as we know it today. As early as 1902, six years before the Thamshavn line was ready for operation, Christian Thams built his first electricity plant that supplied Strandheim Brug with electricity.
The railway stretch from Bårdshaug to Løken Verk is 22 kilometers, and the entire railway, stations and many associated buildings were protected by the National Antiquarian in 2013. In total, this facility offers a combination of several sides of Norwegian history. Here we find not only transport history and industrial history, but also a bit of Norwegian war history.
The sulfur coffin produced at Løkken Verk accounted for 25 per cent of the German need during the Second World War, and therefore several major sabotage actions were taken to stop the shipment of kism ore from Thamshavn to Germany. The actions took place in 1942, when the electric inverter at Bårdshaug was blown up, then an attempt to blow up the ore ship "Nordfahrt" at the quay in Thamshavn 1943. Later, several stops were made against locomotives and wagons to stop the transport. As a result, the ore transport was halted for several periods and the capacity subsequently greatly reduced towards the peace in 1945.
After World War II, the track was rebuilt and the remaining locomotives restored, while three new ones were ordered. The role the path played in passenger traffic was becoming less and less, and the company was allowed to run ore trains only in 1963. This continued until 1974, when the operation in the mining and transport needs changed. The course was never formally closed, but regular scheduled service ceased. There was a standstill until 1983, when a new era began: It was decided to operate the Thamshavn railway as a museum railway with traffic between the stations Løkken and Svorkmo. Later, in 1987, the operation was taken over by the Orkla Industrial Museum and the trains now run between Løkken Verk and Bårdshaug. A great deal of the old railroad material has been taken care of, and among the goodies must be mentioned the "King car" from 1908, which is the world's only motor saloon car in operation.
Norwegian Cultural Heritage is an organization that has the vision "protection through use" and has with its commitment across the country helped to focus on securing our cultural heritage for future generations. A special green symbol, Olavsrosa, is a brand that characterizes places one should stop and learn a little about our rich cultural heritage. The Thamshavn line bears such a mark, and in 2019 the line is in operation every Saturday and Sunday in the period 29 June to 18 August. Two passenger trains run daily, and the trip takes about an hour. Orkla Industrimuseum at Løkken Verk is open six days a week all year round, but is also open on Sundays during the high season.
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