The Era of Copper

Avesta has been entrusted a magnificent industrial heritage. At the centre of Avesta, by the rapids, lies the old iron works area, which dates back to the 17th Century. During the 1630s a copper mill was founded next to the river Dalälv and a little later the Swedish Mint was relocated to Avesta. Both enterprises were of uttermost importance for Sweden as an emerging industrial nation. For more than two hundred years, the copper enterprises form Avesta into an industrial community.

 

Modern Times; The Iron Works

At the end of the 19th Century there was a dramatic industrial development throughout the Western world. To run a profitable industry required large-scale production along with a good supply of hydroelectric power and well-developed transportation systems. Once again Avesta was a winner. The unprofitable copper mill was closed down and reconstructed into a large iron works in 1872. The new iron works grew in scale and became big industry. During the 1920s, the first products of stainless steel were produced at the site. By the mid 1900s, the land area by the river was stretched to its limits and production was gradually moved to a new area, the Southern Works. Left were the moving and beautiful buildings of the works with its abandoned equipment. The whole area passed into the council’s ownership in 1986 and was named Koppardalen (the Copper dale).

 

The Cultural Heritage

The whole area today is of national interest and targeted for conservation. The old industrial buildings are regarded as unique as the line of production, from iron ore to steel, containing smelting and blast furnaces together with the furnaces of the open-hearth process, is preserved in full. Abandoning a whole contemporary and large-scale industry with its production equipment, without it being sold, demolished or rebuilt, is very uncommon. As an environment of industrial history, Koppardalen’s works and its buildings are unusually complete and well preserved, both in national and international terms. A visit to Koppardalen promises an experiential tour of the iron ore production of the early
1900s, from the roasting and crushing of the iron ore, to the smelting, tapping and finishing of the pig iron to stainless steel, one of the most important products of the 20th Century.