One of the worker’s houses – Rasmusgården – house no. 7
|Tronshartgården og Rasmusgården. Photo: Iver Olsen.|
If the people of the mine did not do something extra to obtain food it would not have been possible to run the mine in such an isolated place as Røros. Certain aspects of agriculture were important for the mine, because the animals used for ploughing, the horses and oxen, could also be used for the enormous transportation needs of the mine. When walking through the streets of Røros it is not always easy to understand that the gateways through the main buildings opened up to a farm or smallholding with a copper house for washing clothes and making food, cattle sheds and stables for the domestic animals together with outhouses with space for the storage of equipment, wood, hay and turf. Røros is known as a mining town but farming has played an equal part in the formation of its buildings and the surrounding landscape.
The town is made up of about 300 smallholdings. Only 50 years ago there were still 100 of them working as farms. This has formed the town. From the middle of the 1950s and until 1980 the last farm was closed down. Today there are no cows in the middle of Røros, but there are still horses in some of the stables. The horses of today are used for driving tourists around.
A typical house had from 4 to 6 cows, but there those who had many more animals. The Company’s executives and, after a time, the town’s shopkeepers had the opportunity to build up larger holdings. Some of the properties in Bergmannsgata could be considered really large dairy farms.
The majority of the men living in Røros were miners, labourers in the smelting sheds or were engaged in the transport operations for the mine. The mines were so far from the town that the workers had to live in barracks during the week. It was the responsibility of the women to look after children, house and animals. The men who worked in the smelting sheds were more fortunate. The smelting workers worked in shifts, and after a night shift they had part of the day to work on the farm.
This was the pattern for generations of the people of Røros, and this was the way things took place in the Rasmusgaarden. Olaf Rasmus Vintervold at times was a miner and worked in the smelting sheds as well as running his own smallholding. During his time he had from 4 to 5 cows and a horse and there were the same number of animals on the farm before his time. Census Records from 1865, which also include mention of animals show that on the Rasmusgaarden there was 1 horse, 5 cows and 6 sheep. If we search back until 1748 we can read from title deeds after the death of Joen Olsen Tronshat that the farm had I working ox, 3 cows, I calf, 4 goats and 3 chickens as well as 3 sheep and 2 lambs.
Ther is also more to the story of Rasmusgaarden which was a ‘travellers’ stables’. As was the case in most of the other stable arrangements there was provision to stable the horses that arrived in Røros during the winter months which carried in great loads of ore, wood, provisions and trading items. Similarly the people from the surrounding villages needed a place for the night when they travelled to Røros on some errand. The people from Tolga and Tynset lodged at Rasmusgaarden. Certain buildings provided extra capacity for man and beast and it was mostly such places that earned the name of ‘lodging houses.’ The sale of coffee and dung or manure from the horses was an important additional source of income for the farms.