July 25, 2010
Why Ny-Ålesund is Ny-Ålesund
Today on the walk back from the glacier, after helping Allen, Gareth and Jon collect their data I found this large chunk of coal and it reminded me of the rich history of Ny-Ålesund.
It was exactly 400 years ago, in 1610, that coal was discovered here by the English whaler Jonas Poole, who named the fjord Deer Sound, perhaps after meeting a few of my ancestors. The reindeer were left alone for 300 years until the Kings Bay Kull Company (KBKC) started mining coal in 1916. KBKC was based in Ålesund on the west coast of Norway, so the new mining town became known as Ny-Ålesund (New Ålesund).
The mining operation grew rapidly, extracting nearly 90,000 tonnes a year, but the mine was never very successful and the town was evacuated during World War II. After the war, mining operations were resumed but the work was dangerous and after a number of accidents there was an explosion in 1962 that killed 21 people.
The government decided to stop mining and in the late 1960s Ny Ålesund became the home to scientific research that it is today, still run by the Kings Bay Company.
at 6:17 PM