The Ofot Lines’ dramatic history
The full length of the Ofot Line is from Kiruna in Sweden to the port of Narvik in Norway. The construction of the railway was finalized late in 1902, and the official opening on the 14th of July year after. It took 5 years to build, but the plans started long before. As early as 1882 the Swedish and Norwegian Railway co Ltd, a British company, was granted license to build a railway between the large iron ore deposits in Northern Sweden to the ice-free coast in Norway. After a few years of construction, the Brits went bankrupt, and the project were on hold until the Norwegian and Swedish governments decided to finish it in 1898.
Shipping of the iron ore from Sweden was the main reason to build a railway here and is still the most important feature of the Ofot Line. Till today, the railway has shipped more than 1 billion tons of ore. Building the railway was an extreme project due to the rough climate and landscape. Construction workers, called navvies, came mainly from other areas of Norway and Sweden. At the most, 5000 people were working here. During the 5 years it took to build the railway, a whole city which contained everything from shops and hotel to bowling appeared at Rombaksbotn. As soon as the railway was finalized, Rombaksbotn was vacated and today only the foundations are left.
Almost 40 years later, Narvik and the Ofot Line was in the spotlight again. The Second World War had started, and iron was on high demand. Hence, Narvik and the railwas was an interesting target. On the 9th of April 1940, the Germans hit and the battle of Narvik was on. A battle that lasted for 62 days and involved allied forces from Norway, United Kingdom, France and Poland. Allied capitulation came on the 10th of June, 5.800 human lives later.
Learn more about the interesting history on the automatic guide system when on the train.