In the fair, wild nature, the navvy road winds down from the mountains to the fjord. In the deserted valley you can walk in a beautiful scenery, while traces from the navvy time emerge.

The Eighth Wonder of the World

Narvik was originally called Victoria Harbor, named after the Queen of England. A lot of the city history is built upon the times when the railway was built to transport iron ore from the ore mines in Kiruna, Sweden.

The need of an ice free harbor for unloading the iron ore is the reason for why the Ofotbanen Railway was built, and as a result of this Narvik was established.

Ofotbanen, located 68oN, is described by the author Ernst Didring as "The Eighth Wonder of the World”.

In the late 1800's when the railway was built, it was referred to as the northermost, coldest and boldest railway project that the world had ever seen. Meter by meter of carving in to the steep mountain side resulted in a railway with spectacular view straight down to the Rombaksfjord.

Cultural and historical walk

In 1902 the Ofotbanen railway was finished, and until then migrant workers called navvies, ruled the areas of the valley and fjord.

Close to Katterat Station there are remnants of foundations from the houses the navvies lived in at the end of the eigteenth century. You can also see the remains of an old cable car inwhich they used to transport building materials and supplies in. 

Originally the navvy road was the main traffic artery during the construction period of the Ofotbanen railway. Today the road is reopened for cultural and historical walks in the area.

Rombaksbotn

In Rombaksbotn a small community for the navvies grew, with about 500 inhabitants at the most. Here you could find shops, hairdressers, barbershop, a soda factory and hotels. It was also said that they even had a "pleasure house." 

After the major flood in 1959 most houses were torn away.

Every summer, in the end of June, there is a folk festival in Rombaksbotn. This is an organized tour from Narvik to Rombaksbotn where the town's population and people from the areas gather up and take the historical walk to Rombaksbotn. The day is filled with amazing nature, events, music, games, a World Championship in throwing iron ore lumps, culture and maybe even a surprize or two.

Legends

There are several legends from the navvy period. One of them of a woman called Svarta Bjørn (Black Bear). Her name was allegedly Anna Rebekka Hofstad, and she was a construcion cook in Rombaksbotn. Her nickname was given by a local sami who lived in the area, he based it on her strong character and black hair. The stories of her are many, but the most romantic of them all is that she was very passionate and suffered from a endless love to a man she could never have.

Whether she died from tuberculosis or was killed in a fight with another woman over the same man, remains unknown. But in Tornehamn, just across the Swedish boarder, there is a navvy cemetery. Here you will find a wooden cross with the inscriptions "Anna, Norway". This is where she is said to be buried.

Konjakk-Nisse (Cognac goblin) is another known character from the legends. At the construction site alcohol was totally forbidden, but this man knew how to avoid the law. People are only buying fresh fish he told the authorties, but inside the fish the bottles were well hidden. Payment was normally money, but he was also a pawnbroker, so wedding rings and pocket watches were often pawned. One day, when the construction period was close to end, Konjakk-Nisse came running in to the construction area crying over his woman who had left him and taken all the pawned items with her.

According to the legend, some years later Konjakk-Nisse and his wife were observed togheter up in Tromsø, drinking and having the time of their lives.

Taking the tour

The navvy road stretches all the way from Abisko in Sweden to Rombaksbotn. We recommend the train from Narvik to either Katterat or Bjørnfjell Station and the navvy road down to Rombaksbotn. From Katterat it is about 6 kilometers to walk.

In the summertime it is possible to take the boat from Rombaksbotn and back to Narvik.

In 1997 the area was awarded as Norways Recreation Area.

For more information, please contact us at post@visitnarvik.com