Visiting R 161 31

This post is part of a bigger trip I made through Scandinavia with focus on Norway.

The Kulturpark

I read about the airship mast (or mooring mast) in Vadsø in the travel guide and on some blogs. The descriptions were not overenthusiastic. One even said it is enough to just see the airship mast from the distance. However, I had never seen an airship mast. I also understood that this specific one had quite some significance for reaching the North Pole. Which means, whatever they write, I am going there. To my surprise I didn’t just find some airship mast but a whole park.

The mast is situated on a small island next to Vadsø called Vadsøya. The Eastern part of this island is the so called Kulturpark (culture park). There is a loop path around it with several information boards describing the island’s history. I didn’t expect this. Nice surprise.

Area with short green gras, some pink flowers, a foot path crossing the picture in the middle, sky mostly cloudy with partial blue parts, sun rays behind the clouds

In case you wonder how they keep the grass so short. Here is the answer. Natural, eco-friendly lawn mowers.

A flock of white and brown sheep on the gras and the footpath, in the background the city on the other side of the water

The airship mast

There is no previous building left (above the ground) in that area. Therefore, the airship mast is the dominant structure on that side of the island.

Red airship mast on a green meadow with some red flowers, dark clouds, part of a light rainbow visible
The air ship mast, with a rainbow greeting

The air ship mast was used by the Norge on the way to the North Pole in 1926. This expedition was lead by Roald Amundsen, a very famous Norwegian explorer of polar regions. However, if I interpret the information on Wikipedia correctly, he was not on board but when the Norge stopped here on its way. He was preparing the actual expedition on Svalbard at that time.

Those airships are really big. I wonder how they were able to tie something that big and prone to winds to the mast.

Black and white photo, air ship Norge in the air, tied to the air ship mast on the right, air ship mast is roughly a third of the length of the air ship
The Norge in Vadsø, 6. May 1926, picture by Grenselandmuseet

This expedition was very successful.

Two years later the “Italia” would dock at this air ship mast on another expedition, lead by Nobile who also participated in the tour with the Nobile. However, the crew crashed on their way back. Trying to rescue his colleague Amundsen disappeared on his mission and was never found. Later on I would find out more about this in a museum in Tromsø.

World War II leftovers

In Germany we are all about safety. As I already found out regarding the hiking paths also the remains of WWII are less secured here. Where we would have fences and other barriers here you are responsible to make sure you watch your steps.

Remains of a gun emplacement. Gray, rusty metal structure lying on the grass, a concrete hole below, in the background water and the town

Seeing gun emplacements and bunker like structures is a strange experience. The most I have seen like this are bunkers at the shore (e.g., in France or Sweden). But not remains, and nothing that you could just walk into.

Concrete entry to an unground structure without door.

There are several underground rooms on the area. How would they have been used? Just blank concrete walls today. The one above would lead to the gun. The one below, a bunker? But with a metal roof?

Empty room without windows, concrete walls, dirt floor, metal rusty roof.

This used to be just an island with a fishing village in the past. Today a part of it is like a Swiss cheese due to the effort that people take on to occupy foreign territory.

Some travel tips (from 2021)

  • You can park next to the park, below the hotel after the bridge.
  • There is also the possibility to get rid of your camper van water.
  • More information boards will e.g., give an overview of the old village, a horse race track.

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