Rivers and waterfalls

Running the Copper Works required enormous  water power, both in the mines and the smelting houses, in order to drive the water wheels, the bellows and the heavy jack hammers.

Kirsti Jordet

During the period when the old methods of production were in use Røros Copper Works owned and operated many mines and smelting houses in a wide area of Røros district, North Osterdal and in Holtaalen. In addition, the Tydal smelting house was rented for a 4 year period fro 1820.

The Copper Works were fortunate because the availability of water-driven power was just about adequate. This was not entirely unexpected as the county’s greatest river, the Glomma with all its tributaries, flow through the area. Most of the smelting houses were in the area drained by the Glomma: The main smelting house at Røros, smaller smelting houses at Feragen, at Nyplassen and Nora, in Galaaen, and at Tolga and Lovise houses in Alvdal. Among all these smelting houses, Tolga had the most difficult problems with the water supply. The river Tolga is at most times only a stream, and, in order to secure a constant flow of water, a dam was built where the river joins Tallsjoen. In 1759 the dam burst and the flood was serious enough to carry away the entire smelting house.

On the Femund lakes system, with the country’s largest collection of fresh water, there were two smelting houses belonging to the Company, the Femund house and Drevsjo. A third house was planned for Gloetfossen and under construction but was never started up. It is possible that management also had plans for a smelting house up by Roa, to the east of Femund. Today it is still possible to see what is left of a place called ‘the smithy’ together with other ruins, which can set the imagination working.

One of the smelting houses near Femund had problems in getting enough power. This was the Femund Smelting House where the tiny Butjonn stream did not always supply the required flow of water. In the Bufjellet area one can to this day still see the remains of a couple of dams which should have secured a steady flow of water. But the situation does not appear to be safe and was one of the reasons why the management made plans to move the Femund smelting house.

The three last smelting houses, Tamlaget, Dragaas and Eidet were situated on the Gaula River, a river with plenty of water and several powerful falls.

Of all the smelting houses mentioned here, only one of them was placed outside the circumference of 1646. Otherwise, one of the main considerations for the Company’s decisions to site smelting houses was to ensure the best possible access to forest and timber. Therefore it is easy to understand why the two last houses, Drevsjo and Lovise, were erected far to the south of, and outside, the 1646 circumference. The management were also considering the building of a smelting house, south of Lovise at Storbekken on the western bank of the Glomma River, near Jutulhogget. This is apparent from a letter written to the management of the copper works in August 1806 from a man called, Irgens, he was an official at Tolga.

Sources:
Ivar Sæter: ”Tolgen” (1908)
O. Andersen: ”Bygdebok for Engerdal”
K. Jordet:”Særtrekk ved kobberverksdrifta ca 1630-1890” (2003)
Bergebakken:”En gardhandel 1806” (Barkald) ”Fjell-folk” 1999


Røros was added to UNESCOs of World Heritage Sites in 1980, refer also to Riksantikvaren, ( Norwegian Inspectorate of Ancient Monuments and Historic Buildings).
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