There is an excellent mining museum in Røros, which has an extensive — and growing — collection of intricate working models showing the operations of the Røros copper mine in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, before steam power was available.

These photographs show a small sample of what is to be seen - and were taken under very low-light conditions.

Though tramways were used as Røros, the first known use of tramways in Norway were at mines in Kongsberg and Kvikne in the seventeenth century.

Frank Stamford

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A short section of tramway track entering a mine building.

Water wheels were the main source of power for the mines, and ingenious methods were devised to transfer the power to where it was needed. In this case the power transfer can be seen on the left hand side of the picture in the foreground, and consists of lengths of timber going backwards and forewards and being kept in place by a system of levers. Examples of these levers will be shown in later pictures.

Another view of the water wheel in the previous picture.

On the right hand side is part of the water wheel house shown in the first photograph. The power transfer arrangement consisting of reciprocating timber beams can be seen running from this building to the building in the upper left of the picture.

Leading to bridge

Another water wheel.

bridge pier

During the nineteenth century strong wire ropes became available, and the power transfer arrangement was simplified with timber beams being replaced with wire cables. Timber levers were still used to keep the cables in place, and they pivitted on a central point as shown in this picture.

This is an example of the termination point of a power transfer arrangement using timber beams to transfer the power. You need to see it moving to understand how it works!

Another source of power was horse whims. The roundish building on the left houses a horse whim. The next picture will show the inside workings of a horse whim.

The inside of a horse whim. The horse (or horses) continually walk around in circles.

In this case there are two water wheels in parallel, running in opposite directions. By an ingenious system of levers this enabled a reciprocating back and forth motion to be derived.

An example of a tramway inside a mine tunnel.

This is the top of a pumping arrangement to remove water from the mine. Wire cables can be seen going out of the building on the right — they derive their power from a water wheel some distance down hill.

Finally, this is a model of some miners' cottages as they were about 250 years ago. They still exist, and on my other Røros web page you can see the real thing as they exist today.

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All photographs Copyright Frank Stamford, 2008, who may be contacted by email at:

Last updated: 27 August 2008