Tuesday, February 15, 2011

The Lapland Express

Carl-Henrik Berg, a Swedish friend and intrepid librarian outside of Stockholm, sends me this film clip of a 1911 train trip through the Swedish mountains, from Narvik to Riksgrensen. This particular train route, one of the world's most northerly, was constructed with enormous labor in the first years of the 20th century, primarily to bring iron ore from the rich mines of Kiruna and Malmberget to the ice-free harbor at Narvik in Norway. As soon as the route opened, however, hikers and tourists began to make use of the train. The Swedish Touring Club (STF) constructed huts and hostels along the route. The Sami people, too, began to take the train into Kiruna from their mountain homes. The Danish painter and ethnographer, Emilie Demant Hatt, first came to Lapland in 1904 on the so-called Lapland Express. And it was on an iron ore train that she met the Sami wolf-hunter and author Johan Turi, thus beginning a decades-long friendship.

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