Imagine a railway pulling super-heavy trains across a mountain range in the Arctic. That’s the Ore Line from Kiruna to Narvik. There are several ways you can explore this impressive route.
Iron ore from the mine at Kiruna in Swedish Lapland is shipped by this railway for more than 100 years now to the ice-free port in of Narvik in Norway. Currently, each of the twelve daily trains on the Ore Line dump 8,600 tons of iron ore into the depots in Narvik harbor.
They cross the coastal mountain range at 523m above sea level all year round in the vicious arctic climate.
Both towns at end of the line – Kiruna and Narvik – were founded as a result of the ore deposits and therefore have a strong connection to the railway. Since the 1980s a road also connects the two towns, which makes exploring the ore line today much easier.
Exploring the Ore Line
Driving from Kiruna towards Narvik is a good way to start exploring the line. Chances are good that you see one of the 700 meter long ore trains.
Stations along the way like Abisko or Björkliden are popular resorts for hiking or skiing today. They offer great views of the mountains, such as the Lapporten.
Shortly behind Björkliden, there is a parking space at the road from where a signposted walking path leads to the remains of Tornehamn. This was a short-lived community for the workers on the Ore Line. It has a small harbour on the big Torneträsk lake, where building material and supplies were shipped.
Today, the graveyard, a chapel and a number of ruins lie scattered in the light forest. It is a remote and atmospheric place to visit and a nice break during the drive.
Near the border between Sweden an Norway on the Norwegian side lies Björnfjell. Here is a good viewpoint not only for the Ore Line but the great landscape of northern Norway. There also is a memorial to the World War II battles of Narvik. The Swedish iron ore and the Ore Line were among the reasons of the German invasion of Norway and the battles around Narvik.
From Björnfjell, road and railway take different routes to the coast. The best way to explore the area is the signposted Navvy Road trail.
In Narvik it is worth visiting the Museum Nord with lots of information about the history of the area and the Ore Line. From the museum you also have a good view of the harbor facilities.
If you are more interested in the operations side of the ore transport, the tourist information center in Kiruna has an extensive display from the mine operator LKAB on the mine itself and the Ore Line. They also offer tours of the underground mine.
Finally, the Ore Line does not only run ore trains. You can certainly use the passenger service from Kiruna to Narvik to enjoy this spectacular railway.
Include the Ore Line in your Lapland schedule
If you planning to visit Lapland, you should try to include the Ore Line into your schedule. It is an impressive railway and and important part of the history and the economy of the area fir the past 100 years.