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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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