There is proof of mining in Sala since the beginning of the 16th century. Less official sources tell that the mine has been in use a long time before that. The oldest part of the mining area is called "Herr Stens botten" - there the mining was done above ground, by heating up the rock, before the ore could be broken out.
Almost as exciting as the mining itself are the notes left on how people lived in the mining village at that time. In the 1950's there were excavations done in the area of the village and today one can see the remains of a few walls. Still more interesting it seems to be to know that the basic food for the people working there had been fish, or that Anders Hansson from Västerås was the merchant, who in 1533 payed most taxes of them all. He is followed by "Lille Erik" (Little Erik) and "Nils i porten" (Nils at the gate), both from Stockholm.
In the mining village they drank 70 barrels of beer every week, but that doesn't tell us much, as long as we don't know how big a barrel was and neither the size of the population. In the following year a weekly consumption of 110 barrels seems to show, that there were many newcomers in those days.
In the early 1540's the mining resulted in 3.5 tons of silver annually, which was a very welcome addition to the resources of the King's treasure chest. Gustav Vasa, as well as his sons, knew the value of the mining at Sala. Interesting, though, that today's city of Sala was founded as late as 1624 by Gustav II Adolf.
Many shafts are named after the royalty, be it Queen Christina, Gustaf III or Karl XI. Of course the mining-bell was most important as a signal of danger, the clocktower of today is from 1733, but then it replaced only an older one. The powder-house is - by afterthought - placed far away from the village, surely a far better solution than a couple of hundred years later in Enschede, Holland, where the powder of the fireworks-plant totally blew out some living-quarters, when it exploded....
In 1887 the mine was sold by the Swedish State and in 1908 the mining was abandoned, after having had a final great period during the last decennium of the 19th century. Today the mine is owned by the City of Sala. The mining museum shows a lot of artefacts connected with the mining throughout the centuries and is worth visiting. Interested visitors can also take part of guided tours descending into the labyrinth of tunnels with a total length of 20 kilometers...
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last update: 23.8.2000 by email@example.com