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Cultural memory

The name Järna has no connection with the ironworks Snöån, Andersfors and Eriksfors that were built in in more recent times. The name undoubtedly goes back to the time during the Iron Age, when, by the standards of the time, extensive production of iron with limonite and bog ore as raw material took place here. This iron processing apparently ended in Järna, when rock ores made their breakthrough at the beginning of the Middle Ages.

When Swedish iron processing experienced a strong upswing from the 17th century onwards, Western Dalarna did not benefit from this development. Partly there was no ore here, and partly - above all - no ironworks could be built here, as all the forests were reserved for the Falu mine.


When gunpowder blasting in the 18th century reduced the amount of wood used in mining and this production also declined, the forests of Western Dalarna became, so to speak, legal for the iron industry.  Thus the Säfsnäs ironworks were added in the 1720s, Lindesnäs at the end of the century and Lövsjö blast furnace in 1805.

In the blast furnace at the smelter, the ore was transformed into pig iron. At the ironworks, the pig iron was rendered malleable and made into bars, wrought iron. Charcoal was a difficult commodity to transport and therefore the plants were spread out throughout the forests and kept small, in order to avoid long charcoal transports.

These factors form the background to Bergslaget's application to the authorities in 1806 - and only then - for permission to build an ironworks at the outlet of Snöån from Lake Storsjön Bergslagen's co-stakeholder in Lövsjö blast furnace resisted, and only in 1811 was permission granted to annually produce 135 tonnes of wrought iron at Snöån and from part of this produce 45 tonnes of so-called manufacture, mostly scythes and nails.


As a complement to Snöån, Andersfors was added in 1830 and Eriksfors (the Snöå works) in 1837. Production increased during the 19th century, as the authorities relaxed the old rationing of iron production.  However, Snöån never achieved an annual production of more than 200 tonnes (1852).

The pig iron was mainly transported in winter from Lövsjö, Tanså and Limå blast furnaces, the finished products to Grangärde or Filipstad for further transportation out into the world.  The long transportation distances by horse and the limited size of the loads (about 400 kg) explain why the wages were low.  Charcoal profits were also meagre. The iron farmers had never learned the art of charcoal burning, as they always delivered rough logs to the mine. The forest was also badly damaged through slashing and burning.

The peasant farmers therefore had to borrow from the works, went into debt and had to leave their farms.  In addition, the peasant farmers were also frequently deeply in debt to the merchants in Falun. In order to secure the claims of the peasant farmers, the company had to call in "more properties at auction than would otherwise have been warranted".  With the arrival of the modern forest industry, the value of these half-enforced properties became apparent.  But that is a story for another time.


From the end of the 1840s, the company's interest in the Snöå works declined. After Bergslaget bought Lindesnäs in 1853, a process of concentration began: Eriksfors was closed down in 1854, Andersfors in 1857, and by 1866 Snöån's time was up too.  There was then a wrought iron forge, a manufacturing forge, two charcoal storage buildings, two pig-iron sheds, a frame saw and a mill (both now restored), four workers' dwellings, a works office, various sheds and agricultural buildings, and the works inspector's residence.

The industrial communities of the past were not large urban areas. No patron of the works has ever lived at Snöån during its short life, but a series of inspectors - after 1866 forest administrators - whose names are still alive in Järnabygden such as A J Fröman, O Lindgren - who is said to haunt to this day - and lastly Grindal.

Of Andersfors and Eriksfors, only meagre remnants remain today. Snöån, on the other hand, has lived on as a pleasant and quiet industrial idyll.

Transcript from the Cultural Heritage sign at the bridge to Snöå Bruk

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Snöå Rural Home Economics School


In March 1909, Doctor Erik Johan Ljungberg reported to the board of the school company Bergslaget's practical schools, that a special school for peasant farmer homes had been established at Bergslaget's farm at Snöån in Järna parish (now Dala-Järna). Ljungberg stated that the Snöå rural home economics school was started in order to “provide agriculture with capable, female labour and, above all, agricultural homes with capable wives ready to create "happy homes with happy inhabitants".

Snöå rural home economics school was set up by Lotten Lagerstedt, commissioned by Ljungberg, following the pattern of the Fredrika-Bremer association's rural home economics school in Rimforsa. Lagerstedt made all the necessary arrangements and on 1 April 1909 the school was able to offer education for the wives and daughters of the company's farmers and forest workers as intended.

Snöå rural home economics school provided training in farm management from its inception until the mid-60s. After the mid-1960s, training for the operation of small farms was too out-of-date, and thereafter the programmes became more focused on nutrition and textiles, and the courses on animal husbandry disappeared.

In 1985, the school changed its name from rural home economics school to consumer economics school, and now none of the rural education remains.


Hostel (Vansbro Municipality)

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In the period 1989 - 2018, Vansbro municipality was the owner of Snöå Bruk. An 18-hole golf course and a ski stadium were also built in the area. The adjoining Forest Workers’ Village was also established around this time.

Snöå Bruk was run in collaboration with STF as a hostel and Vansbro municipality leased out the operation to various tenants until autumn 2018.

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Hotel and conference

The complex is currently operated and owned by the two local companies JPA Consulting AB and Munters Bygg AB. These acquired the facility from Vansbro Municipality in November 2018 as the property had not had a tenant for a relatively long period of time and had been on the market.  Snöå Bruk has since then been gradually refurbished, modernised and renovated both internally and externally.  Today, 25 hotel rooms with a total of about 100 beds are available for conferences, weddings, anniversaries, training groups or tourists seeking a peaceful and harmonious atmosphere in the area's beautiful natural surroundings.


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