100 years of Communication

Ore Transport 1654-1909

From old all pyrite ore from Løkken Verk Mine was taken by horse to the smelting works or to the harbour.  The ore had to be sorted, and transport was only spent on the highest grade ore.  The horse could pull up to 800 kilos a load, and a trip from Løkken Verk to Orkanger would take two days.  That made transportation very expensive, and in the 1890's when industrial operations were to be implemented, a more efficient means of transport was needed:  The railway.

The horse suddenly became outdated, it was no more needed for pulling loads.  The horse-keeping had formed the basis of a new tradition, however, i.e. trotting races.  In this way the mining traditions with the horse as tractive power laid the foundation of the present Orkdal horse-trotting environment.

  • The ore wagon is from Dragset Verk, and was in use until the operations there were discontinued in 1909.


In the 1890's all mining rights were gathered into the hands of Chr. Thams at Orkanger and Chr. Salvesen in Leith in Scotland.  They went in for industrial operations and, in order to succeed with these, electric power and railway.  To implement their plans they also needed a supply of venture capital.

On 30 September 1897 the two of them applied for licence for a railway from Orkanger to Svorkmo.  The ore from Løkken, Høidal and Dragset Mines should be taken to Svorkmo by telpher line.

The following year, on 18 July 1898, the two of them established Chr. Salvesen & Chr. Thams's Communications Aktieselskab, a company which should construct and operate the railway, construct and run Skjenaldfossen Power Station, and also operate a steamer service between Orkanger and Trondheim.  This would be the first purely private railway in Norway, built without any state support.

On 1 March 1904 the licence for building the railway was finally granted.  The state demanded the right to take over the section Svorkmo - Thamshavn, and that the company should commit itself to the rendering of public passenger and goods transport.

On 7 December the same year Orkla Grube-Aktiebolag was established with Chr. Thams as the managing director, and on the same day already Orkla bought most of the shares in the railway company.  Since then Salvesen & Thams has been a subsidiary of the Orkla Group.

  • Christian Salvesen (1827 - 1911).
  • Christian Thams (1867 - 1948).
  • This map was on the back of the 1898 S & T share certificate.


The pegging out and levelling for the railway line started in 1905 with a big number of workpeople employed.  Some of the workers came from other projects in Norway, others from the local areas of Orkdal and Meldal.  After two years temporary goods transport could commence on the section Thamshavn - Svorkmo.  There were then great amounts of materials and equipment which needed transport to Løkken Verk, where one of the greatest industrial constructions of that time took place.

In 1904 Salvesen & Thams decided that the railway, as the first one in Norway, should be run by electricity.  They chose British Westinghouse and Elektrisk Bureau as contractors, and, as one of the first railways in the world, Thamshavn Railway was to use alternating current as the motive power. 

The first alternating-current railways have later been put out of work or converted.  Thamshavn Railway is at present the oldest railway in the world still driven by alternating current.  Notice the table.

  • The Thamshavn Railway's first locomotive was a steem engine bought from the Nesttun - Os Railway.  At Thamshavn Railway the engine was called "Kvenna".  Here it is with a gravel train at Løkken Station in 1909.(Johnny Salberg's collection).
  • At Svorkmo Station the course of the river Svorka had to be changed, and the railway was built on a big dump.  This photo, taken in 1907, shows from the left:  Lars H Skjølberg, Lars Halgunset and his brother, Karl Kroksæter and Edvard Solås.  Behind them from the left:  Per Årli, Ivar Skjølberg and Oskar Svorkmo.  The two further behind are unknown.  (Orkdal Historielag's collection).
  • The contact line being stretched.  "Kvenna" pulls the tower coach which is still in use.  (Orkdal Historielag's collection).
  • Construction work 1906/07 at Gjølsskjæringa at Fannremsmoen.(Orkdal Historielag's collection).
  • These construction workers from Svorkmo became the motive of a postcard.  (Orkdal Historielag's collection).
  • Construction workers at Thamshavn station, 1908.(Johnny Salberg's collection).


After the construction work had been started, it was decided to build the railway right up to Løkken Verk.  In spring 1908 everything was ready up to Svorkmo.  The last section up to Løkken Verk was constructed simultaneously.

On 10 July 1908 the railway was to be inaugurated.  H.M.King Haakon was given the honourable task, and he was fetched in Trondheim by S/S "Orkla".  The King and his company travelled in the Directors' Coach from Thamshavn to Svorkmo, where the solemn inauguration took place.  After this the coach was renamed the Royal Coach.

After the inauguration the participants went back to Bårdshaug Herregaard where Chr. Thams had invited them to a big garden party, before "Orkla" again left the quay and brought the King back to Trondheim.

Two years later, on 15 August 1910, there was another inauguration, this time of the railway section Svorkmo - Løkken Verk.  At that time Prime Minister Wollert Konow carried out the solemn ceremony at Løkken Station.

The railway project was thus completed, and the district had obtained a highly modern transport system.  Suddenly it was possible to make a trip to town in one day only!  Previously this was a strenuous trip where people had to spend at least one night away.

  • Chr.Thams at the speaker's platform on Svorkmo Station, 10 July 1908.
  • H. M. King Haakon VII and Chr.Thams on the Thamshavn quay.
  • S/S "Orkla" leaving Thamshavn with H. M. King Haakon VII on board.
  • After the opening Chr.Thams arranged a garden party at Bårdshaug Herregård.  H. M. King Haakon being entertained by the guests...
  • ...while the Norwegian Army Military Band, Trøndelag, was playing.
  • Thamshavn Station, 10 July 1908.  This photo was shown in the local paper with the following caption:  "The man to the left of Consul Thams, is H. M. the King."
  • From the opening at Løkken Station on 15 August 1910.  Both the station,...
  • ...the guests...
  • ...and the train were decorated for the festive occasion.


Thamshavn Railway is the only railway in Norway which has a 1000 mm track.

On the section Thamshavn - Svorkmo the railway is levelled for a standard gauge, however.  This is due to the original plans of leading the Dovre Railway down Orkladalen (Orkla Valley).  It was then planned to use the Thamshavn Railway alignment route between Svorkmo and Thamshavn.  On the same day as Thamshavn Railway was inaugurated, however, the Storting (Parliament) decided that the Dovre Railway should instead go through Soknedalen and Gauldalen.

Between Svorkmo and Løkken Verk we find one of the country's steepest railway sections with a 44 per cent rise.  Here we would also find the country's sharpest bend with a radius of 60 metres.  It has been replaced by a tunnel, but the Thamshavn Railway still has a 70-metre-radius bend.

  • Løkken station 1910.
  • Svorkmo Station in the interwar period.
  • Solbusøy (Solbu) Station 1910.
  • Fannrem Station 1910
  • Bårdshaug Station 1910.
  • Orkanger, the railway station...
  • ... and the bus station.
  • Thamshavn, the quay...
  • ... and the terminal.
  • The rail layout of Løkken Station.
  • The rail layout of Thamshavn Station.
  • The architect's draft of the Thamshavn Railway Station buildings.
  • The buildings were built according to this sketch, with some minor adjustments.


  • "Kvenna".  Built in 1893, used until 1917.
  • Steam engine no 9.  Delivered in 1909, used until 1916, as well as between 1930 and 1947.
  • Engine 11-15 came to the Thamshavn Railway from France during 2nd World War.  Discarded at the end of the 1940's.(Photo Kvarsnes)
  • 99,221 and 223 came to Thamshavn Railway from the Eisfeld - Schönbrunn Railway in Germany during the 2nd World war.  The engines were discarded in 1953 and 1947.(The Norwegian Railway Museum)
  • Engine no 8 just after the delivery, Orkanger Station 1917.
  • Motor coach no 5, used from 1910 to 1943.(Orkdal Historielag's collection)
  • In 1953 the diesel engines no 9 and 10 replaced the steam engines as the shunting engines of Thamshavn Railway.(Alfred Christensen)
  • Engine no 1 (1950) with a pyrite ore train at Orkanger Station.(Schrøder)
  • Engine no 8 with a pyrite ore train at Hongslomælan, 29 June 1973.(Svein E Sando)
  • A passenger train at Svorka Canal 1910...
  • ... and 1993.(Bjørn Tokle)
  • Engine 5 and the coaches 9, 10 and 11 in the museum railway's opening train, 10 July 1983.(Jan I Thoresen)
  • Locomotive no 8 with a passenger train at Svorkmo Station in 1986.(Bjørn Tokle)
  • Passenger coach no 9 (1908) in 1996.  (Bjørn Tokle)
  • Dining coach 220, constructed in 1993 on a 100-year-old undercarriage.  Photo from 1996.(Bjørn Tokle)
  • Motor coach 4, "The Royal Coach", at Skjøtskift 10 July 1983.  (Jan I Thoresen)


  • Graphic schedule from 1959.
  • Few changes were made in the schedule pattern at Thamshavn Railway in the years of passenger traffic.  Here are schedules from 1908, 1915, 1934, 1944 and 1962.
  • From 1908 to 1974 the Thamshavn Railway carried a total of 7,441,012 passengers, 1,069,750 tons of express goods and ordinary goods, and 16,720,047 ton pyrite ore.


  • Kristian Gjølmesli at the lathe in the Railway Workshop at Thamshavn in 1930.(Orkdal Historielag's collection)
  • The Railway Workshop at Thamshavn.
  • Railway maintenance at Solbusøy Station.  From the left:  Bernt Svorkdal, Ole Svorkdal, Olaf Aune and Knut Ljøkelsøy.  The phote was taken ca. 1935. (Orkdal Historielag's collection)
  • A passenger train at Skjøtskift ca. 1948.  The passengers are on their way to a ski-jumping competition at Skjøtskiftbakken.
  • A royal visit at Løkken Station on 5 September 1929.  Her Royal Highness Crown Princess Märtha alights from the Royal Coach and is welcomed by Minken Lenander.  (Olav Haltli)
  • The Løkken Station attendants ca. 1960.  From the left:  Harald Aunemo, Harald Rigstad, Ivar Løfshus, Bjarne Storsve.  (Severine Storsve)
  • Manual shunting at Svorkmo Station.  (Alfred Christensen)
  • The staff on the pyrite ore train,29 June 1973.  From the left Shunter Harald Aune, Engine Driver Bjarne Johnsen and Pyrite Ore Loader John Gravdal.  (Thor Bjerke)
  • The flood in 1934 caused extensive damage to the railway line.  This photo was taken at Hongslomælan.  (Orkdal Historielag's collection)
  • Ready for departure from Løkken Station.  The photo was taken by the end of the 1950's.  (Alfred Christensen)
  • Conductor Sigurd Madsen.  (Geirny Madsen)
  • A big manual job of clearing away the snow at the pyrite ore silo at Løkken Station.  (Alfred Christensen)
  • An unpleasent meeting at a level crossing in the beginning of the 1960's.  Sivert Fagerholt and the train managed alright, but Warburgen was not so lucky.  (Photo Kvarsnes)
  • Filling water on steem engine no 221.  (Alfred Christensen)
  • Shunting with steem engine no 12 at Thamshavn Station during the war.  Alfred Christensen)
  • In order to strengthen their ability to guard Thamshavn Railway during the war, the Germans converted a pyrite ore wagon into an armoured vehicle with a gun loop and built-in heater.  This photo of Ørnulf Knutstad was taken at Thamshavn just after the war.  (Orkdal Historielag's collection)
  • Fannrem Station, 8 May 1945.  A hidden radio has been taken out, and people meet at the station to hear news from London.  (Orkdal Historielag's collection)
  • The war prisoners return to Løkken Verk on 22 May 1945.  A big crowd was waiting for Ola Isdal, Fredrik Vavold and Odd Olsen.  (Olav Haltli)
  • The level crossing at Fannrem, 30 April 1963.  Crossing Keeper Ottar Sundli (to the left) and Ola Matlid prepare for the last passenger train heading for Løkken Verk.
  • Løkken Station, 30 April 1963.  The time had become 21.15, and the last ordinary passenger train had arrived at the terminal.  This day people could travel free of charge.  Many made use of the occasion to bid farewell with the Thamshavn Railway.  (Ivar Leinan)
  • Presenting flowers to the staff on the last passenger train of the Thamshavn Railway.  From the left:  Magne Svorkmo, Ingebright Ekli, Sverre Olsen.  (Ivar Leinan)
  • A new service.  Thamshavn Railway became a museum railway on 10 July 1983.  (Carl Fr.Thorsager)
  • 30 May 19974.  Ready for departure of the last pyrite ore train on Thamshavn Railway.  From the left:  Per Palmer, Einar Gravdal, Arnold Ofstad, Einar Solstad.


In 1909 already Salvesen & Thams was part of establishing Nordmøre Automobil Aktieselskab.  This company should run a bus service between Svorkmo and Surnadal corresponding with the Thamshavn Railway and with steamers going back and forth to Kristiansund.  The company went bankrupt after two years, however, and the buses were taken over by Surendals Auto - the forerunner of Mørelinjen A/S.

On 6 May 1918 A/S Orkla Autotrafik was established at Løkken Verk to run a service to Oppdal.  Salvesen & Thams gradually acquired shares in the company and had become the main shareholder when it was reorganized in 1929 and renamed A/S Trondhjem - Orkladal Billag (TOB).  The company ran a local service in Orkdal and Meldal, as well as a service between Løkken Verk and Berkåk and between Orkanger and Trondheim corresponding with the Thamshavn Railway.

The railway traffic was reduced after the war, while the bus traffic increased.  When the Thamshavn Railway passenger traffic closed down in 1963, TOB took over all passenger service in the valley.

In 1973 TOB was taken over by Hemne og Vinje Billag, which changed its name to Hemne Orkladal Billag (HOB).  Salvesen & Thams is at present the main shareholder in HOB, which again owns Mørelinjen, Nordmøre Trafikkselskap and Molde Bilruter.  In addition, HOB is the biggest shareholder in Norgesbuss, which has departments in Oslo, Akershus, Østfold, Vestfold and the Mjøs region, and which also owns NORGESTAXI.

  • A photograph taken at Svorkmo of one of TOB's first buses.  This bus is an "N.A.G" make. (Kåre Karlsen's collection)
  • Løkken Station, 15 February 39, 12 degrees plus.  Passengers and buses from TOB and Surnadal Billag are waiting for the train.  (Jon Bakk)
  • TOB's bus stop in Trondheim, Easter 1947.
  • TOB buses in 1933.  (Kåre Karlsen's collection)
  • After the war TOB renewed its bus fleet with a number of Swedish buses.  These three were delivered in 1946, and were regarded as a great technological advance.  Is that why they were lined up for photographing in front of the Technological University of Norway?
  • ... and this is what the Swedish buses looked like inside.
  • An Easter day of outing at Kjølen in the beginning of the 1950's.  (Kåre Karlsen's collection)
  • Bus no 27.  The last bus delivered to TOB in 1972.  The bus is preserved and owned by Thamshavn Railway's Friends.  (Kåre Karlsen's collection)
  • The HOB buses at Frognerparken in Oslo, 1994.  (Kåre Karlsen's collection)
  • In 1939 Petter Hegle established the Løkken Bus Service, with a local service in the Meldal District.  The Løkken Bus Service became part of HOB in 1975.  As we see from this 1967 service schedule, there were frequent departures.
  • Løkken Bus Service' bus no 9, 5 June 1955.  (Photo Berg)
  • The 1997 service network of the bus companies in the Salvesen & Thams Group.


In addition to giving the district efficient train transport, Salvesen & Thams also wanted to provide it with up-to-date transport back and forth to Trondheim.  Therefore S/S "Orkla", Norway's most modern local steamer, was put into use in 1908, simultaneously with the train.

During the initial years "Orkla" made two daily trips between Thamshavn and Trondheim.  Later this was reduced to one daily round.  During certain periods calls were being made at Viggja and Byneset, and during the whole period of ship traffic, there were regular calls at Kjøra, Ofstad, and Rove at Geitastrand.  S/S "Orkla" corresponded with the train at Thamshavn Station.

In 1910 S/S "Orkdal" was taken over from Det Örkedalske Dampskipsselskap (The Orkdal Steamshipping Co.) and was renamed S/S "Svorka"  The ship was put into regular service on Byfjorden between Thamshavn and Trondheim via Geitastrand, Lensvik and Stadsbygd, but after a short while it was laid up and sold.

The S/S "Orkla" traffic was small, but increased greatly as a result of the petrol rationing during 2nd World War.  When the war ended, it was also the end of S/S "Orkla", who made her last trip on 30 April 1949.  She was sold and continued as a river boat on Congo in Africa, before she is supposed to have been sold to Peru.  It is not clear how "Orkla" ended her days.

After the time of S/S "Orkla", M/B "Elna" was put into service and continued working right up to 1957.  The ship carried both passengers and goods, but the passenger traffic was quite insignificant, and there were usually passengers only between Geitastrand and Trondheim.

  • S/S "Orkla".
  • S/S "Svorka"
  • Viggja, 12 June 1912.  "Orkla" has run aground.
  • The layout drawing of S/S "Svorka"...
  • ... and S/S "Orkla".
  • The funnel emblem and company flag of Chr.Salvesen and Chr.Thams' Communications Aktieselskab.
  • Three girls from the domestic science school at Øyum on a trip to town with S/S "Orkla".  (Trøndelag Folk Museum)
  • M/B "Elna"
  • The Orkla Group established in 1914 the shipping line called Rederi AS Orkla, which for a short period had several cargo ships in operation carrying pyrite ore from Thamshavn to smelteries around the world.  Among these were S/S "Løkken", S/S "Høidal", S/S "Dragset", S/S "Bjørnli", S/S "Holum", S/S "Stoll" and S/S "Aamot".
  • "Orkla", "Svorka" and "Elna" carried 1,663,586 passengers and 349,337 ton goods.

Electric Power Stations

Chr. Thams saw three basic conditions for industrial scale mining at Løkken Verk:

  • venture capital supply
  • efficient transport
  • electric power

He furnished the capital by means of Norwegian and foreign, especially Swedish, business relations.  The transport was made more efficient by the railway replacing the horse.  And the electric power should be produced at Skjenaldfossen (the Skjenald Waterfall) in Orkdal.  He had bought this waterwall in 1899 and sold it to Salvesen & Thams, who started developing it in 1904.  In the first instance Gangåsvatnet, later also Våvatnet and Songsjøen, were to become regulating reservoirs.  Skjenaldfossen Power Station produced its first electricity in March 1906, and the line up to Løkken Verk was completed in 1907.  Skjenaldfossen also delivered electricity to the Thamshavn Railway.  During the time of construction a transformer plant was built at Thamshavn.  This plant was later moved to Bårdshaug, where it still is.  Here the electricity is transformed into 6600 V 25 periods' alternating current.

As the Orkla activity grew, the need for power also increased.  In 1915 the company Løkken Kraft was established to construct another power station at Sagbergfossen at Ånøya in Melhus.

In 1921 Gjølme Mill was taken over, and the company's rights in Sølbergfallet (the Sølberg Waterfall) in Skjenaldelva (the Skjenald River) were developed through a fairly small power station.  Sølbergfallet is upstream from Skjenaldfossen, which means that the same water is used twice to produce electricity.

All the three power stations are still in operation.  Both Sagbergfossen and Sølbergfallet are now owned by Salvesen & Thams.  The stations produce enough energy to cover the needs of about 1200 households.  At present the power is mainly sold to Orkdal Elverk.

  • Skjenaldfossen Power Station ca. 1910.
  • Building a new dam at Skjenaldfossen 1915-16.  (Orkdal Historielag's collection)
  • Construction work at Skjenaldfossen 1915-16.  (Orkdal Historielag's collection)
  • Section of the pipe trench at Skjenaldfossen Power Station.  (Orkdal Historielag's collection).
  • The staff at the transformer plant at Thamshavn ca.1910.
  • Sagbergfossen Power Station 1989.  (Bjørn Tokle)
  • Skjenaldfossen Power Station 1996.  (Magne Grøset)
  • Sølbergfallet Power Station 1997.  (Bjørn Tokle)
  • Bårdshaug Transformer Plant 1997.  (Bjørn Tokle)