Calm before the storm

Before 1865 Visnes was quiet and poor farming land. However, after large amounts of copper were unveiled, the number of inhabitants exploded, and Visnes changed into an industrial, well run society – almost overnight. Visnes was part of Avaldsnes municipality, but the community council of Avaldsnes had no authority in Visnes.  They were self sufficient and ran themselves.

Between 1870 and 1890 Visnes had 3000 inhabitants...
....and 800 of them worked in The Old Mine.

Visnes – a pioneer during the Industrial Revolution.

Once Visnes was Norway’s biggest working place and Northern Europe’s biggest copper plant.


This exiting story began on a winters day in 1865, when Torbjørn Brueland from Sandnes was outside Visnes with his boat.  He was a fisherman, however also had great interest in searching for all kinds of ore , like copper. At this time Norway was very poor; fishing and farming were dominant, and the Industrial Revolution had not as yet reached the country. Therefore many people were looking for other means of income. As Mr. Brueland went ashore in Grønneviken, he discovered copper in the water as well as in the soil..


Drilling machines came into use in the mine,something that made mining much easier. This was a result of import of technology from countries further south in Europe.


Visnes was first with telephone in Norway.


And second with electric light..

From sulphur to diamond

Visnes was self sufficient in every aspect: Their own school, hospital, police, jail, beer- and liquor stores, bakeries, clothing store and grocery stores.  At this time there were also two hospitals in Rogaland County – one in Stavanger and one in Visnes.
From Lastekaien (the loading dock) ships sailed to all of Europe with copper, sulphur and zink.  Shipowners from Bergen were dominant in this trade.
Singing and music were very important in Visnes.  To be a singer or play an instrument was almost a necessity for the clerks to get a job there!

During 107 years of mining,  big amounts of copper, sulphur and zink were taken out from two mines.

The Old Mine (Gamlegruva)


Rødklev Mine


With the help from a watchmaker and a foreigner

Torbjørn Brueland contacted his friend, watchmaker Maurits Kartevold in Sandnes, who also had knowhow about ore.
However – these two did not have equipment nor money to start a mining business. They therefore got in touch with mining engineer Charles de France, who was in Norway searching for ore at this time. This young mining engineer – 26 years of age – reacted promptly and travelled to Visnes.
De France immediately saw great opportunities of earning money here.  His plan was that Mr. Brueland and Mr.Kartevold should finance the commencement of the mining operations, and sent them all over Norway to collect money.
But – nobody believed in their project.  Therefore Charles de France started up all by himself, financed by the copper plant in Hemixen, Belgium, where he was the CEO. He paid Brueland and Kartevold 2000 "spesidaler" each, plus 1000 "spesidaler" every year for as long as the mine was active.  1000 "spesidaler" was the equivalent of a priest’s yearly salary.

In June 1865 de France arrived in Visnes with 20 – 30 men: Miners, engineers and assistants.  All of them came from other countries in Europe. The number of workers soon expanded and more and more Norwegian and local people came to work in the mine.

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