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Ny Ålesund, Svalbard - 9 - Coal Train

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This rickety old train that looks like it came straight from Toytown was employed pulling wagons of coal from the mine to the dock at Ny Ålesund.

Ny Ålesund was initially started as a coal mining settlement, it had been known that coal was there for many years, though it wasn't until 1916 when the area was sold to a group from the town of Ålesund in Norway that it was first exploited.

Mining here didn't have a good record with explosions and deaths being all too common. The final straw came on the 5th of November 1962 when an enormous explosion ripped through the mine killing 21 people, the sound of the explosion could be heard in Longyearbyen 120km (75 miles) away. The mine was closed and the then Prime Minister of Norway had to leave his post amidst allegations of inadequate safety measures being taken in the mining industry.

There had been 200 people living in Ny Ålesund, almost all connected with the mining, they now left and slowly Ny Ålesund became populated with scientists and scientific research stations.

78° 55' N 11° 56' E

Picture copyright Paul Ward

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