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Map Grumantbyen

Map of Gru­mant­by­en at the time of maxi­mum acti­vi­ty.
Only the buil­dings drawn in black to still exist (as of 2020) as ruins that may col­lap­se at any time. The grey buil­dings do not exist any­mo­re, or just in shape of a few scat­te­red remains or bare­ly visi­ble foun­da­ti­ons. Also the piers do not exist any­mo­re.
The ori­gi­nal map did not include any topo­gra­phy (con­tours, river), which made it dif­fi­cult to match the map with the limi­t­ed remains that are still the­re. A bit of gues­sing is invol­ved as long as no fur­ther sources or more detail­ed maps are available. So this is real­ly just a sketch map: ori­en­ta­ti­on is not abso­lut­e­ly pre­cise and allo­ca­ti­on of the yel­low dots, which mark the posi­ti­ons whe­re the pan­ora­ma pho­tos on this site were taken, is just appro­xi­ma­te.
Author’s dra­wing, based on a sketch in Hoel (1996, more details at the end of the page).

Grumantbyen landscape

Gru­mant­by­en is situa­ted in a steep val­ley near the shore, under steep slo­pes.
The ter­rain was a source of fre­quent dif­fi­cul­ties.


  1. Gru­mant­by­en
  2. Eas­tern end of rail­way
  3. Memo­ri­al
  4. Rail­way track, tanks or boi­lers
  5. Rail­way track, mine ent­rance
  6. Rail­way track, mine ent­rance
  7. Cen­tral area
  8. Buil­ding (insi­de)
  9. Wes­tern buil­ding (ent­rance)
  10. Wes­tern buil­ding (insi­de)
  11. View over Gru­mant­by­en

Pan­ora­ma 1 – Gru­mant­by­en

1912 and fol­lo­wing years: Gru­mant – The tra­ding house A.G. Aga­fel­off & Co

Seve­ral expe­di­ti­ons were sent out from Rus­sia to inves­ti­ga­te and secu­re coal occur­ren­ces in Spits­ber­gen from 1912. The first one was led by Vla­di­mir Rus­a­nov, but he dis­ap­peared later during the same sum­mer tog­e­ther with the expe­di­ti­on ship, the Her­ku­les, and most of the other expe­di­ti­on mem­bers in the nor­the­ast pas­sa­ge. But Rudolf L. Samoi­lo­witsch and two other mem­bers had left the expe­di­ti­on in Spits­ber­gen. They retur­ned safe­ly with at least some results of their work. Samoi­lo­witsch beca­me a lea­ding figu­re of Rus­si­an arc­tic rese­arch and he led the Rus­si­an expe­di­ti­ons to Spits­ber­gen until 1915. Based on the work done in 1912, he secu­red seve­ral are­as, inclu­ding Coles­buk­ta and the coast of Isfjord to the east, whe­re Gru­mant (Gru­mant­by­en) was later estab­lished. The tra­ding house A.G. Aga­fel­off & Co, foun­ded by mer­chants in in Ark­han­gelsk, was the dri­ving force behind the­se acti­vi­ties.

Grumantbyen Umgebung

Access to Gru­mant­by­en from the sea is limi­t­ed by the steep and expo­sed shore to peri­ods with good con­di­ti­ons.
The­re is a lot of dan­ge­rous scrap metal in the shal­low water near the shore.

But the Rus­si­an acti­vi­ties in Spits­ber­gen cea­sed after 1915. See The ear­ly years of Barents­burg, Colesbukta/Grumant and Pyra­mi­den for fur­ther details about the­se ear­ly years.

Pan­ora­ma 2 – Eas­tern end of rail­way

From 1920 onwards: The Ang­lo Rus­si­an Gru­mant (ARG)

In 1920, the Ang­lo Rus­si­an Gru­mant Com­pa­ny Ltd was foun­ded in Lon­don. The direc­tor, mining inge­nieur Gre­go­ry Mikhai­lo­vitsj Nach­im­son, had been part­ner in the tra­ding house Gru­mant – A.G. Aga­fel­off & Co sin­ce 1918 and knew their claims in Spits­ber­gen. It appears plau­si­ble that he wan­ted to secu­re the claims by moving the rights from Rus­sia, whe­re revo­lu­ti­on and coll­ec­ti­vi­sa­ti­on were posing poten­ti­al thre­ats against the company’s inte­rests, to a coun­try that he felt was bet­ter sui­ted to take care of the busi­ness. But this is only spe­cu­la­ti­on. In any case, the ARG sent a first expe­di­ti­on with 21 mem­bers in 1920. A house was soon built on the Isfjord coast in Gru­mant­da­len to the east of the river to pro­vi­de accom­mo­da­ti­on and tech­ni­cal infra­struc­tu­re was estab­lished to the west of the river: a power sta­ti­on (die­sel), coal sto­rage, pier and a rail­way track to the mining area. The first coal was alre­a­dy mined in 1920 at a seam that crop­ped out at 35 met­res abo­ve sea level on the west side of the val­ley. 2000 tons of coal were ship­ped during that first year, and the sett­le­ment was deve­lo­ped fur­ther until 1925.

Pan­ora­ma 3 – Memo­ri­al

A litt­le memo­ri­al south of the sett­le­ment area. The back­ground is unknown.

Infor­ma­ti­on is scarse, but a few num­bers may give an idea of the sca­le of the acti­vi­ties, which were con­ti­nuous and pro­duc­ti­ve for a cou­ple of years, alt­hough not on a very lar­ge sca­le:

Popu­la­ti­on (total)Women/childrenCoal pro­duc­tion (tons)Ship­ped coal (tons)
Sum­mer 19202120002000
Win­ter 1920-2138-/-
Sum­mer 192145?7000
Win­ter 1921-2222-/-
Sum­mer 192220??
Win­ter 1922-23?-/-
Sum­mer 1923200?
Win­ter 1923-2425-/-
Sum­mer 192490?16000
Win­ter 1924-2566-/-
Sum­mer 1925?20200?
Win­ter 1925-2642-/-
Sum­mer 1926Gut 809000?
Win­ter 1926-27Nur Wach­mann­schaft-/-
Sum­mer 19276?

The pro­duc­tion is given, as far as at all available, as annu­al pro­duc­tion, wit­hout any fur­ther refe­rence to sum­mer or win­ter pro­duc­tion. The­re was no ship­ping in win­ter. Data from Hoel (1966): Sval­bards his­to­rie.

Pan­ora­ma 4 – Rail­way track, tanks or boi­lers

Acti­vi­ties in 1923 con­cen­tra­ted on the infra­struc­tu­re, and for a while the­re was no coal pro­duc­tion.

Data are not com­ple­te, but the total pro­duc­tion from 1920 to 1924 appears to have been 33,000 tons, while the capi­tal used amoun­ted to 90,000 Pound ster­ling during the same peri­od.

1926 and fol­lo­wing years: the end of the Ang­lo Rus­si­an Gru­mant

The col­lap­se of coal pri­ces on the world mar­ket in the midd­le of the 1920s brought mining com­pa­nies in Spits­ber­gen and else­whe­re into dif­fi­cul­ties. The ARG was not able to con­ti­nue her ope­ra­ti­ons bey­ond 1925. Only a small group win­tered in 1926-27 to guard the pro­per­ty, and 6 peo­p­le whe­re in Gru­mant in the sum­mer of 1927 for some basic work: a mana­ger, a cook, a fore­man and 3 miners. In late 1927, the ARG was forced to ter­mi­na­te all ope­ra­ti­ons in Spits­ber­gen and to sell the pro­per­ty and the rights. 62,000 tons of coal had been pro­du­ced until then.

Pan­ora­ma 5 – Rail­way track, mine ent­rance

1931 and fol­lo­wing years: the Rus­si­an era beg­ins – first Sojusljes­prom, then Trust Ark­ti­ku­gol

In the sum­mer of 1931, the Rus­si­an com­pa­ny Sojusljes­prom star­ted mining on the Gru­mant field. The ice­brea­k­er Sibi­ria­koff arri­ved on 12 July from Arkan­gelsk with 80 peo­p­le, inclu­ding 12 women. Most of the workers came from the coal mines in the Donezk area in the Ukrai­ne and they were well paid (NOK 300,-/month, with free accom­mo­da­ti­on and food).

Grumant Überblick

View over Gru­mant as it was in 2020.

The workers star­ted imme­dia­te­ly to build seve­ral hou­ses, inclu­ding two buil­dings with accom­mo­da­ti­on. Due to the dif­fi­cult har­bour con­di­ti­ons on the expo­sed coast, a plan exis­ted from the begin­ning to use Coles­buk­ta for ship­ping.

Ano­ther 117 workers, with 10 women among­st them, arri­ved at Colesbukta/Grumant in late July. Soon, accom­mo­da­ti­on and a radio sta­ti­on were built. Two baracks were rea­dy at the end of the sum­mer with enough space in each to house 100 peo­p­le, and a club house and a hos­pi­tal. Exten­si­ve work still had to be done befo­re pro­duc­tion could be resu­med in the mine.

Old tank/boiler

Old tank/boiler (?) behind the buil­dings.

The imme­dia­te com­mence­ment of the works by Sojusljes­prom is remar­kab­le, becau­se it was for­mal­ly still the ARG Ltd. who held the rights to the Gru­mant coal field. On 17 Novem­ber 1931, the­se rights were taken over by the Trust Ark­ti­ku­gol, a Rus­si­an sta­te-owned com­pa­ny that was deve­lo­ping coal and other geo­lo­gi­cal resour­ces on Russia’s north coast.

Pan­ora­ma 6 – Rail­way track, mine ent­rance

1931 and fol­lo­wing years: buil­ding and mining

Not much is known about the ope­ra­ti­ons in Colesbukta/Grumant in 1931 and the fol­lo­wing years. The­re is some data given by Adolf Hoel in his 3 volu­me stan­dard work Sval­bards His­to­rie. Hoel (15 May 1879 – 19 Febru­ary 1964) had good access to any­thing available in Nor­way during his times, but for the Rus­si­an ope­ra­ti­ons, all he had were the more or less annu­al reports from the inspec­tions of the Nor­we­gi­an Berg­mes­ter (Nor­we­gi­an Direc­to­ra­te of Mining) who was the legal aut­ho­ri­ty for all mining, regard­less of natio­na­li­ty, in Spits­ber­gen. The Berg­mes­ter visi­ted all rele­vant mines on an annu­al basis as much as pos­si­ble. Hence, we know at least that the Trust Ark­ti­ku­gol put a lot of resour­ces into the acti­vi­ties in Spits­ber­gen, espe­ci­al­ly Barents­burg and Gru­mant, straigh­ta­way. The Trust cal­cu­la­ted with an annu­al pro­duc­tion of 120,000 tons. Until 1962, Gru­mant was far more important for the Trust Ark­ti­ku­gol than Pyra­mi­den, at least jud­ged by popu­la­ti­on and coal pro­duc­tion. Con­side­ring the­se key figu­res, the dou­ble sett­le­ment of Grumant/Colesbukta was also ahead of Barents­burg in some years.

Building furthest west in Grumant, entrance

Ent­rance to the buil­ding fur­thest west in Gru­mant.

As the sources are scarse and not easi­ly available, I want to repro­du­ce tho­se data that are available here.

Popu­la­ti­onThe­reof women/childrenCoal pro­duc­tion (tons)Coal ship­ped (tons)
Win­ter 1931-32??10000
Sum­mer 1932225??
Win­ter 1932-33?17011
Sum­mer 1933??0 (Betriebs­stop)?
Win­ter 1933-34230?38643
Win­ter 1934-35190 Berg­ar­bei­ter?
Sum­mer 193531255/75050541462
Win­ter 1935-36350??
Sum­mer 1936300?7513163909
Sum­mer 193739064/677749?
Sum­mer 193840758/1257984?
Sum­mer 193946756/12?
Sum­mer 194042675/21
Sum­mer 1941609?

Data taken from Hoel (1966): Sval­bards his­to­rie.

Pan­ora­ma 7 – Cen­tral area

The older buil­dings in Gru­mant were remo­ved until 1932 and repla­ced with new ones that could accom­mo­da­te up to 400 peo­p­le. The sum­mer of 1932 was used to work on the infra­struc­tu­re. The­re was no plan to put gre­at effort into har­bour faci­li­ties at Gru­mant. Initi­al­ly, coal was to be trans­por­ted to ships out in the fjord by bar­ges and the ide­as was to use the har­bour in Coles­buk­ta later, but both that har­bour and a relia­ble con­nec­tion bet­ween Gru­mant and Coles­buk­ta still had to be built.

Western building, staircase

The stair­ca­se in the wes­tern­most buil­ding in Gru­mant
has obvious­ly seen bet­ter times in the past.

Ope­ra­ti­ons in Gru­mant were tem­po­r­a­ri­ly cea­sed in 1933 becau­se the ter­rain cau­sed too many dif­fi­cul­ties; the Trust hoped that coal occur­ren­ces in Coles­buk­ta would turn out to be good enough to start mining from that end. At that time, infra­struc­tu­re in Gru­mant was rea­dy to sup­p­ly 250 peo­p­le with accom­mo­da­ti­on, power and ever­y­thing else that was nee­ded for a regu­lar dai­ly life, such as a club house, admi­nis­tra­ti­on, radio sta­ti­on and die­sel-based power sta­ti­on. Soon, mining was resu­med again in Gru­mant.

Westernmost building, corridor

Cor­ri­dor in the wes­tern­most buil­ding in Gru­mant.

190 miners and an unknown num­ber of sur­face staff spent the win­ter of 1934-35 in Gru­mant. The num­ber of peo­p­le working on the sur­face was usual­ly at least equal or even excee­ded the num­ber of tho­se who actual­ly work­ed in the mine. The pro­por­ti­on miners/total popu­la­ti­on was often near 1:3.

For com­pa­ri­son: 1447 peo­p­le lived in Barents­burg during the win­ter of 1934-35, inclu­ding 200 women.

Pro­duc­tion work was going on at 2 coal seams, each with a thic­k­ness near 60 cm. They were sepa­ra­ted by a sand­stone lay­er which was also 60 cm thick. The pro­duc­tion area was 18 met­res below sea level. In 1937, work was star­ted to prepa­re a new mine on the east side of the val­ley.

Old mine entrance

Old mine ent­rance.

A new power sta­ti­on had to be built in 1938 becau­se the old one had burnt down after a short cir­cuit on 14 Decem­ber 1937. The Nor­we­gi­an mining com­pa­ny Store Nor­ske in Lon­gye­ar­by­en was able to sup­p­ly two gene­ra­tors that dated back to the Ame­ri­can times of Lon­gyear City (until 1916) on a short noti­ce. Wit­hout this deli­very, all ope­ra­ti­ons in Gru­mant would have come to a com­ple­te stop until at least the fol­lo­wing sum­mer, but as it was, the inter­rup­ti­on was limi­t­ed to 4 weeks. The new power sta­ti­on was equip­ped with a 300 kw die­sel gene­ra­tor and it was enlar­ged in 1939. In the same year, a tun­nel was built for the river in the sett­le­ment area to gain space for coal sto­rage.

The­re is no infor­ma­ti­on about the coal pro­duc­tion of the indi­vi­du­al Rus­si­an sett­le­ments in 1939, but a total of 313,246 tons was ship­ped (the­re was no pro­duc­tion yet in Pyra­mi­den, so the who­le pro­duc­tion was from Barents­burg and Gru­mant).

The second world did initi­al­ly not influence the mining sett­le­ments in Spits­ber­gen.

In 1940, a two-storey buil­ding was rai­sed on the west side of the Gru­mant val­ley. The mine on the west side of the val­ley was aban­do­ned and coal pro­duc­tion was moved to the east side of the val­ley. The pro­duc­tion of the indi­vi­du­al sett­le­ments in 1940 is not known, but 269,729 tons were ship­ped in total.

Pan­ora­ma 8 – Buil­ding (insi­de)

1941 and fol­lo­wing years: evacua­ti­on and des­truc­tion

The Ger­man attack on the Sov­jet Uni­on on 22 June 1941 was a major tur­ning point for all sett­le­ments in Spits­ber­gen. All of them were evacua­ted and important infra­struc­tu­re and coal reser­ves were des­troy­ed against local pro­test. Work had con­tin­ued in Gru­mant during the sum­mer of 1941, but the­re was no ship­ping, so a lot of coal had been stored. 609 peo­p­le were living in Gru­mant at that time: the lar­gest popu­la­ti­on the place had had until then.

183,674 tons of coal were pro­du­ced in the Rus­si­an mines in Spits­ber­gen in total in 1941 until 1 August, but only 109,414 tons were ship­ped. The sett­le­ments were evacua­ted in ear­ly Sep­tem­ber 1941. The inha­bi­tants of Barents­burg, Colesbukta/Grumant and Pyra­mi­den were taken to Ark­han­gelsk.

River, Grumantbyen

Gru­mant is divi­ded into 2 parts by the river.

The Ger­man Kriegs­ma­ri­ne (navy) ran a lar­ge attack on Spits­ber­gen on 8 Sep­tem­ber 1943. Barents­burg was almost com­ple­te­ly des­troy­ed and only a few buil­dings remain­ed in Gru­mant after that attack.

After the war: recon­s­truc­tion from late 1946

Recon­s­truc­tion of the Rus­si­an sett­le­ments did not com­mence befo­re Novem­ber 1946. 120 peo­p­le were busy to put Gru­mant back into ope­ra­ti­ve mode again in the sum­mer of 1947. Five smal­ler hou­ses and one lar­ger one were soon rea­dy, but the mine was still des­troy­ed. The work­force was rai­sed up to 200 in autumn. Coal was despera­te­ly nee­ded in nor­t­hern Rus­sia.

Bach, Grumantbyen

The eas­tern­most buil­ding of tho­se that were still stan­ding in 2020 appeared so dan­ge­rous that I just took a pho­to through the win­dow.

The Rus­si­an sett­le­ments had a total popu­la­ti­on of 1200 during the win­ter of 1947-48, but it is not known how this popu­la­ti­on was divi­ded onto the indi­vi­du­al places. Recon­s­truc­tion work was still going on in Gru­mant in 1948, but lar­ge parts of the infra­struc­tu­re were func­tion­al again, inclu­ding a litt­le hos­pi­tal and the die­sel power sta­ti­on, and coal pro­duc­tion was taken up again. A pier and 4 hou­ses had been built in Coles­buk­ta, whe­re geo­lo­gi­cal inves­ti­ga­ti­ons were car­ri­ed out.

The litt­le ice­brea­k­er Her­ku­les sank with 25 souls on board in Decem­ber 1948, pro­ba­b­ly during a storm near Bear Island (Bjørnøya). The Her­ku­les had been sta­tio­ned in Spits­ber­gen to pro­vi­de trans­port bet­ween the sett­le­ments, and her loss must have been a hea­vy blow to the small com­mu­ni­ties.

Pan­ora­ma 9 – Wes­tern buil­ding (ent­rance)

1949 and fol­lo­wing years: rou­ti­ne ope­ra­ti­on

The rebuil­ding pha­se was com­ple­ted in Gru­mant in 1949. The­re were lar­ge, two-storey woo­den buil­dings for accom­mo­da­ti­on, a bath house with sepa­ra­te sec­tions for women and men, admi­nis­tra­ti­on, can­teen, warm sto­rage and hos­pi­tal. The plan to build a cable­way bet­ween Gru­mant and Coles­buk­ta had been aban­do­ned, but a way bet­ween the sett­le­ments had been com­ple­ted. The popu­la­ti­on was near 600 peo­p­le, 160-170 of which were working in the mine and 48 in Coles­buk­ta. The num­ber was increased up to 965 in the autumn of 1949. The­re was no mining in Coles­buk­ta, but geo­lo­gi­cal inves­ti­ga­ti­ons were con­tin­ued. The­re were 3 lar­ge buil­dings and a small one in Coles­buk­ta, and a pig­gery, har­bour and oil tanks.

The total popu­la­ti­on of the Rus­si­an sett­le­ments (Barents­burg, Colesbukta/Grumant, Pyra­mi­den) in autumn 1949 was 2438 peo­p­le, inclu­ding 51 child­ren. The total coal pro­duc­tion was 125,000 tons, of which 105,466 were ship­ped.

Railway, Grumantbyen

Eas­tern end of the litt­le rail­way in Gru­mant. From 1952, it was con­nec­ted to Coles­buk­ta.

In the win­ter of 1949-50, mining was con­tin­ued east of the Gru­mant val­ley in a nor­t­her­ly direc­tion, but geo­lo­gi­cal faults which dis­lo­ca­ted the rocks cau­sed incre­asing dif­fi­cul­ties. At the same time, work was done on a rail­way con­nec­tion bet­ween Gru­mant and Coles­buk­ta. this rail­way was almost finis­hed in 1951, only 140 m of tun­nel blas­ting remain­ed to be done.

248.791 tons of coal were ship­ped from the Rus­si­an sett­le­ments in 1951. The­re are no fur­ther details regar­ding the pro­duc­tion in the indi­vi­du­al mines.

Railway, Grumantbyen

Steel scrap at the eas­tern end of the rail­way in Gru­mant.

In 1952, the Nor­we­gi­an Berg­mes­ter (mining aut­ho­ri­ty, see abo­ve) was denied access to the Rus­si­an mines for the first time, a new move in the rela­ti­onships bet­ween Rus­si­ans and and Nor­we­gi­ans, which was other­wi­se descri­bed as good and fri­end­ly by Hoel, based on the Bergmester’s reports.

The rail­way Coles­buk­ta-Gru­mant was final­ly in ope­ra­ti­on, and the first loads of coal had been trans­por­ted over­land to Coles­buk­ta to sup­p­ly the power sta­ti­on over the­re. 40 minu­tes were nee­ded for a distance of 8 kilo­me­t­res; one train had 30 cars, each of which could take 3 tons of coal.

Pan­ora­ma 10 – Wes­tern buil­ding (insi­de)

1954 and fol­lo­wing years: dif­fi­cul­ties with faults

It requi­red a lot of effort in 1954-55 to build a way around a major geo­lo­gi­cal fault (crack that dis­places rocks) east of Gru­mant. The­se works were con­tin­ued until 1958, but pro­duc­tion was con­tin­ued to the south and east at the same time. In 1958, pro­duc­tion could final­ly be con­tin­ued to the east of the fault.

A new house for accom­mo­da­ti­on was built in 1959. A new bath and laun­dry house and were in con­s­truc­tion in 1959 and rea­dy in 1960.

Buildings, Grumantbyen

Ruins of hou­ses in Gru­mant. It is dif­fi­cult to iden­ti­fy indi­vi­du­al buil­dings, but it is safe to say that all of the­se hou­ses were built after the war.

1961-62: pro­duc­tion stop and aban­don­ment

Pro­blems with geo­lo­gi­cal faults and decre­asing thic­k­ness and qua­li­ty of the coal seams kept incre­asing in 1961. This led to a pro­duc­tion stop in the autumn of 1961. This pro­duc­tion stop was ori­gi­nal­ly meant to be tem­po­ra­ry as far as is known, but it marks the end of the Rus­si­an dou­ble sett­le­ment of Coles­buk­ta and Gru­mant. 2054 peo­p­le lived in the Rus­si­an sett­le­ments at that time. For com­pa­ri­son: the total popu­la­ti­on of all sett­le­ments in Spits­ber­gen was 2961. In other words, the Rus­si­an popu­la­ti­on repre­sen­ted by far the majo­ri­ty.

Coles­buk­ta and Gru­mant were aban­do­ned in 1962. Accor­ding to the web­site of the Trust Ark­ti­ku­gol, the total pro­duc­tion in Gru­mant amounts to 2 mil­li­on tons.

Popu­la­ti­on*The­reof women/childrenCoal pro­duc­tion (tons)Coal ship­ped (tons)
Win­ter 1946-47??
Sum­mer 1947120
Win­ter 1947-48200?
Sum­mer 194845050000
Sum­mer 1949600, im Herbst 965
Win­ter 1949-501008?/5116642
Sum­mer 19511106?/32
Sum­mer 1952830?/10122107
Sum­mer 1953780?/11
Win­ter 1953-54986?/12120459
Win­ter 1954-55962?/20103210
Win­ter 1955-56958?/17105287
Win­ter 1956-57965?93959
Sum­mer 19581035?73235
Sum­mer 19591047?128918
Sum­mer 1960??125425
Win­ter 1960-61??73727

* Popu­la­ti­on of Gru­mant tog­e­ther with Coles­buk­ta. Most peo­p­le lived in Gru­mant, whe­re the mines were loca­ted. Exam­p­le: in 1949, 48 out of 600 peo­p­le lived in Coles­buk­ta and the others in Gru­mant.
Not­hing is known for tho­se years that are not men­tio­ned, or just sum­ma­ri­sing data for all the Rus­si­an sett­le­ments tog­e­ther. The­se are men­tio­ned in the text.
Data from Hoel (1966): Sval­bards his­to­rie.

Pan­ora­ma 11 – View over Gru­mant­by­en

Adolf Hoel does not men­ti­on any acci­dents in Gru­mant or the other Rus­si­an sett­le­ments in Spits­ber­gen until 1965 in his book Sval­bards His­to­rie, which was fina­li­sed by others after his death in ear­ly 1964. In con­trast, he high­ligh­ted the high tech­ni­cal stan­dard of the Rus­si­an mines. The­re is no reason to assu­me that Hoel had any reason to descri­be the stan­dards and acci­dent histo­ry more favoura­ble than it actual­ly was. On the other hand, it is hard to ima­gi­ne that the­re were never any acci­dents in the Rus­si­an coal mines, while the­re was a num­ber of serious acci­dents, some with lar­ge loss of lives, in the Nor­we­gi­an mines in Lon­gye­ar­by­en and Ny-Åle­sund.

The Rus­si­an name of the for­mer sett­le­ment, Gru­mant, is deri­ved from the word Gru­mant, which the Pomors used for Spits­ber­gen. The word “Gru­mant” bears some simi­la­ri­ty to “Green­land”. In the ear­ly years of its histo­ry, it was belie­ved that Spits­ber­gen was a part of Green­land. Today, Gru­mant is most­ly known as Gru­mant­by­en, “byen” mea­ning “the town” in Nor­we­gi­an (defi­ni­te mode), as in Lon­gye­ar­by­en.


The pri­ma­ry source was Alfred Hoel’s 3 volu­me stan­dard work Sval­bards His­to­rie, here the chap­ter De Rus­sis­ke Sels­ka­per (Vol. I, pages 331-418). An ela­bo­ra­te book about the Rus­si­an histo­ry of Spits­ber­gen, writ­ten from an insi­de per­spec­ti­ve on expert level, his lack­ing, as far as I can tell (and I did ask, more than once). The­re is still work to be done here for a Rus­si­an his­to­ri­an. Plea­se don’t hesi­ta­te to let me know if you have more, rele­vant infor­ma­ti­on.


Aussicht über Grumantbyen Westliches Gebäude (innen) Westliches Gebäude (Eingang) Gebäude (innen) »Dorfplatz« Bahntrasse, Grubeneingang Bahntrasse, Stolleneingang Bahntrasse, Wasserkessel Denkmal Östliches Ende der Bahn Grumantbyen


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last modification: 2021-10-21 · copyright: Rolf Stange