Back to the beginning – the Hurtigruten Museum Stokmarknes / Vesterålen
Anyone who knows Norway also knows about the old line of postal ships and today’s Hurtigruten. And even those who are very critical of the current hype and giganticism of the crusaders cannot escape the fascination of the Hurtigruten. We feel the same way. The Hurtigruten are a pleasant change from the floating social buildings. We immerse ourselves in the history of the Hurtigruten and visit the Hurtigruten Museum in Stokmarknes, a small village on Vesterålen, north of Lofoten.
As long as I go to Norway, I have been enthusiastic about the postal ships, the Hurtigruten along the Norwegian coast. Once founded to supply even remote regions with mail and goods and to enable people to have a certain degree of mobility, the expansion of the road network and numerous airports has now changed the direction. The Hurtigruten have developed from a liner service to a tourist attraction without revealing their roots.
And so it somehow belongs to us to delve into the history of the Hurtigruten if you want to get to know Norway a bit closer. We can also visit the Hurtigruten Museum on Vesterålen, located in the small village of Stokmarknes.
What Stokmarknes has to do with the Hurtigruten Museum
The term “Stokmarknes” actually means something like “forest and logging area” in Old Norwegian. So it has nothing to do with the sea. And yet here, in Stokmarknes, the first post-shipping line was built in 1891. In 1893, the official liner service started. Up until 1988 the shipping company Vesteraalens Dampskipselskap, founded by Richard With, was at home here, from which today’s Hurtigruten emerged.
Now the Hurtigruten are known and loved worldwide. This is shown by the guests from numerous nations who do not miss the opportunity to experience this not necessarily cheaper trip along the Norwegian coast with the Hurtigruten. There are also trips to Antarctica, via the notorious Northwest Passage or to Greenland.
Consequently, the Hurtigruten shipping company has decided to tell its lively and exciting story in its own Hurtigruten Museum. And that at the place where it was founded, here in Stokmarknes. For the 100th anniversary in 1993, the Hurtigruten Museum opened in the former administration building of the Vesteraalens Dampskipselskap shipping company. But the history of the Hurtigruten is too extensive not to give it enough space. The Hurtigruten Museum opened its doors on July 4th, 1999 in the new building.
The Hurtigruten Museum and the Finn brands
Hurtigruten you can touch, you can experience this especially in the Hurtigruten ship “Finnmarken”, which is docked in front of the museum. The Finnmarken was put into service in 1956 and retired in 1993 after almost 40 years of loyal service. From the water side, it now stands in the shadow of its successors in front of the Hurtigruten Museum and is connected to the exhibition rooms by a bridge.
Unfortunately, the ravages of time gnaw on this wonderful Hurtigruten ship “Finnmarken” on land. So it was rethought and there were or are considerations to scrap it and replace it with another ship. Perhaps a glass hall would also be an alternative to an elaborate restoration. The Finn brands as donation boats on all Hurtigruten lines might be a beneficial contribution to the preservation of this unique and emotional maritime monument.
Stokmarknes on Vesterålen
Stokmarknes on Vesterålen is almost a big place by regional standards. And above all a very international place. It belongs to the municipality of Hadsel and is located on the island of the same name. On the one hand, Stokmarknes is the home port and jetty of the Hurtigruten, but on the other hand there are also fish processing companies. And so it happens that people from 25 nations can be found in this 3,200 soul place. Stokmarknes, including the Hurtigruten Museum, has everything a small town has to offer.
From Stokmarknes to Lofoten and back
The location of the port and the proximity to the Lofoten allows you to travel with the Hurtigruten through the famous and very narrow Trollfjord to the capital of the Lofoten, to Svolvær and to come back here.