City Travel

A Harrowing Coincidence: The Falun Coppermine Collapse

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Photo: FaluGruva

In Falun, Sweden, a single event changed the course of history forever. In fact, the timing of this event is so coincidental that it gives us shivers just thinking about it.

The event in question is the great Coppermine Collapse on Midsummer’s Eve of 1687.

At the Falun Coppermine, operations were heating up in the 17th century. Upwards of 3,000 tons of copper was extracted from the Earth and most of it went to feed the Swedish military with weaponry. Business was booming, men were employed.

But as the mountain grew weak from (half a century of) shoddy support structures and sporadic tunnels, rumblings were heard across the region. But of course, these quakes were explained away, and the men kept working. And working.

Hundreds of employees spent each and every day in the mine. You see, in this era in Sweden, there weren’t paid holidays or time off. If you wanted money, you came to work. So as the mountain quaked, the men returned each day.

That is, until Midsummer’s Eve. As one of the most important holidays of the year in Sweden, the workers were finally given a day off. The mine was closed. The men went home.

At 4 o’cock in the afternoon on Midsummer’s Eve, a giant rumble was felt all around. The mine had completely collapsed inward and not a single sole was inside. The locals were horrified, delighted, but mostly in shock. How could this devastating event happen on one of two holidays each year where workers weren’t present on site? Simple good luck? Or something greater?

Today, the Falun Coppermine serves as a museum that provides a historic snapshot of Sweden’s past. Thousands of visitors travel from around the world to view the preserved remains of what used to be the most beloved copper mine in Scandinavia. But they mostly come to grapple with the deeper questions at hand.

What are the chances?

Have you ever visited the site of the Falun Coppermine? If so, let us know in the comments what it was like to experience such a harrowing place!

Mandy Burkholder is a travel, adventure, and outdoor writer who honed her craft in the foothills of the La Plata Mountains of Southwest Colorado. After a stint in the Swiss Alps, she now resides in Tennessee. Follow her on twitter — @mandyburkhold3r