History of the Røros smeltery

The smeltery was the very heart of the mining town's existence. It was here copper ore went through long and demanding processes in order to obtain the end product for export.

Apart from when work stopped during mid-summer, to enable workers to attend to their farms, production took place 24 hours a day in the smeltery and in the ore yards. There was a great deal of traffic, both to and from the smeltery and ore yards. Those who transported ore used horse-drawn sledges and came in from Storwartz, Nordgruvefeltet and other mining areas. Also farmers from outlying areas travelled great distances, arriving with charcoal and firewood. Much of the transportation was taken over by train when the railway was opened in 1877. The cable and bucket system that was built after 1900 also helped to facilitate easier transportation. However, in some districts horses and sledges continued to be used until production was finally closed down.

  • Smelthytta som stod ferdig i 1888
    The smeltery that was rebuilt in 1888. Erik Olsen

The smeltery that was destroyed by fire in 1953 was originally built in 1888. During the construction work at that time the following report appeared in the regional newspaper (Fjeld-Ljom):

There is a lot going on up in the Røros smeltery these days. In addition to the usual work, many extra hands are employed on erecting the buildings, levelling the site and a great deal stonemasonry work is going on. In addition, a waterway is being excavated to drive a turbine, and a number of other necessary measures are being carried out for the future operation of the smeltery. There are very many horses that exert themselves in the struggle with heavy loads in order to move all the materials needed; the water-driven saw never stops. We can only hope that the present day efforts and sacrifice by The Copper Works in order to secure cost-effective production of copper will succeed. The region’s population, it’s future and it’s welfare depend on this.

When the work was completed the same newspaper wrote: 

After being destroyed by fire The new Røros smeltery, which was erected during the summer is simply enormous. Huge and spacious, this monster of a wooden building rears up in its surroundings. Many busy hands have been engaged during the summer. The smelting furnaces have been bricked into position and all the various machines and other appliances put into place. On a trial basis, smelting has been started up on a couple of the furnaces, namely, the so-called "Refining furnace" and also the furnace referred to as, "The American", in which the final smelting of ore is carried out by using a new process. The Røros smeltery is now considered to be among the most modern of its type in the world.

  • Arbeidere i smelthytta på Røros
    Workers at Røros smelter after modernization in 1888.

The smeltery was closed down for good in 1953. It had been a large and important place of work for many generations. Visually, this "monster of a wooden building" had been a landmark together with Bergstadens Ziir (The Røros church spire) and the slag heaps. Some years later, in 1977, work at the mines was also closed down. It was then that a final end came to 333 year-long era in the mountain region, an era when all who lived in the region were in one way or another dependent on the Copper Works.

  • Smelthytta i brann 1975
    Photograph taken in 1975 when the Røros smelter burned to the ground.
Ref. sources 
The above article was reproduced in its entirety from the book, ‘På Sta’a og uti markom’ (In ‘Town’ and out in the fields) Vol. 1 Randi Borgos and Amund Spangen, 2001.