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Sørkapp Land: Camp Erna

360 degree panorama of a Northern Exploration Company hut

Sør­kapp Land: Bjørns­kau­buk­ta, Rak­s­od­den

This coas­tal area in Sør­kapp Land, on the sou­thern west coast of Spits­ber­gen, is rare­ly visi­ted. The coas­tal waters are shal­low, the­re are many under­wa­ter rocks and the charts are doubt­ful, altog­e­ther not exact­ly gre­at con­di­ti­ons for an approach by ship unless you have a small, strong boat, a skip­per with good expe­ri­ence in such con­di­ti­ons and the best of wea­ther. The­re are no bays in this area that afford real shel­ter. It was, admit­ted­ly, a bit win­dy when we went ashore here in Bjørns­kau­buk­ta.

Tho­se who ever hap­pen to get here will see a wide coas­tal plain with a lot of tun­dra, rela­tively poor in spe­ci­es, but with many litt­le lakes and small wet­land are­as. The coast is flat, with many small rocky head­lands and small bays with gra­vel beaches bet­ween them. A beau­ti­ful coast­li­ne!

Camp Erna

If you have a look around at Rak­s­od­den, then you will find the ruin if a hut. This was built in 1919 by the trap­pers Ole Blom­li, Gus­tav Lind­quist, Alfred Johan­sen and Osvald Lind. They were win­te­ring trap­pers, but at the same time they were working for the Nort­hern Explo­ra­ti­on Com­pa­ny, an Eng­lish com­pa­ny that tried to find and explo­it mine­ral resour­ces in many pla­ces in Spits­ber­gen. Their most famous attempt was the marb­le quar­ry on Blom­strand­hal­vøya.

The NEC hut built in 1919 at Rak­s­od­den was initi­al­ly cal­led Camp Lind­quist, but later re-named to Camp Erna, after Lindquist’s daugh­ter. Lind­quist and his com­ra­des used it for one win­te­ring in 1919-20 and during fol­lowing years it was used by the NEC to explo­re pos­si­ble mine­ral occur­ren­ces in the area, but without any fin­dings of eco­no­mi­c­al impor­t­ance. Later, Camp Erna was occa­sio­nal­ly used by trap­pers who had their main hut in Gås­ham­na in Horn­sund.

After the end of the polar bear hun­ting years (polar bears were ful­ly pro­tec­ted in Spits­ber­gen in 1973), Camp Erna deca­yed. In 2007, it was a ruin which was still stan­ding, at least in parts. Some years later, Camp Erna col­lap­sed com­ple­te­ly and now the­re are just bits and pie­ces left lying on the ground.

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last modification: 2019-05-24 · copyright: Rolf Stange
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