Knaben Gruvemuseum

Useful Information

Knaben Gruvemuseum, Norway. Public Domain.
Location: Kvinesdal. From Oslo on E18 to Stoa Arendal, Highway 42 past Evje to Kvinlog, national road 465 to Knabe. Meeting for mine tour at Heishuset (the flat green and yellow building). (58.662677, 7.074775)
Open: Museum: 27-JUN to 09-AUG Fri, Sat 11-15, Sun 11-16.
Mine Tour: JULY to AUG Sun 13.
Fee: Museum: free.
Mine tour: Adults NOK 50.
Classification: molybdenum mine
Light: LightIncandescent Electric Light System
Dimension: A=600 m asl., T=7 °C.
Guided tours: D=1 h.
Address: Knaben Gruvemuseum, Knaben, Kvinesdal, Tel: +47-971-40-020.
Reservations: Knabens Venner, Tel: +47-971-40-020, Tel: +47-930-92-841. E-mail:
As far as we know this information was accurate when it was published (see years in brackets), but may have changed since then.
Please check rates and details directly with the companies in question if you need more recent info.


1885 begin of mining at Knaben.
1897 new process for tempering steel with molybdenum invented, demand increases.
1902 mining rights of the area were bought for 6,000 kr.
1904 mining rights of the area sold to an English company for 250,000 kr.
1909 mine closed because of low market prices for molybdenum.
1914 mine reopened for the war.
1918 mine closed.
1930s Swedish company Avesta Järnverks AB purchases mining rights and reopens mine.
1940 Norway occupied and mine taken over by the Germans.
03-MAR-1943 10 British de Havilland Mosquito strike fighters of No. 139 Squadron RAF attack.
10-NOV-1943 130 American B-17 bombers from the Eighth Air Force, mission number 131, attack.
1954 first school built.
30-APR-1973 mine closed.



Knaben Gruvemuseum, Norway. Public Domain.

The Knaben Gruvemuseum (Knaben Mining Museum) is located in the administration building of the abandoned Knaben molybdenum mine. The first floor shows Knaben's mining and war history. The second floor is the former flat of the director of Knaben Molybdengruver AS. It was restored as it was when he lived here. In the museum garden there is a sandbox with molybdenum.

Beneath the administration building the headframe, the hoist, the ore wash, and the furnace are still existing. Also the uppermost of originally 21 levels of the mine was restored for visits. The Knaben besøksgruve (Knaben show mine) is visited on the Den forlatte gruva tour (abandoned mine tour). Below the mine is the sand lake, the tailing of the mine, accumulated during 80 years of operation. The ore was crushed to sand during processing, and then ore and gangue separated by floatation. The gangue was flushed into the Litle Knabetjødn, which was filled completely with sand. It was a side arm of the still existing Store Knabetjødn lake. Despite containing only very low amounts of metals, the sand is leached out by groundwater and cadmium, copper and molybdenum contaminate the river Kvina.

Molybdemum is used mainly in steel production, an alloy of iron with molybdenum is much harder than pure iron, hence it is used for armour. As a result the molybdenum mine was very important during war times. When the First World War began, a British company bought the rights for all minerals found on the site. This annoyed the Germans who also wanted the minerals. The mine was quite busy and many miners with family moved to Knaben. The children went to school, but lacking a school building there were classrooms in various buildings. All this ended in 1918 at the end of the war. The mine was closed for several years.

In the 1930s the Swedish company Avesta Järnverks AB purchased the mining rights and reopened the mine. The production increased through the 1930s and at the begin of World War II some 400 miners worked and the mine and the total population of Knaben was about 700.

During World War II Norway was occupied by the Germans in 1940 and the mine was operated by them to produce molybdenum for weapons. It was essential, because at that time it was the only operating molybdenum mine in Europe. The Germans fortified the mine against attacks and had around 1,000 men stationed in the immediate area. Anti-aircraft guns and other defensive weapons were positioned at various strategic points on the site. But the mine was attacked twice by Allied bombers in 1943. In March 1943 the British bombed the site, killing fifteen Norwegians and one German. Today there is a plaque with the names of the killed Norwegians. In November 1943 the Americans also bombed the facility, killing a number of the occupying forces but no Norwegians. The second time was during a big offensive, in which also the power plant at Rjuken, 75 miles west of the Norwegian capital of Oslo, was bombed. You have probably seen the movie Heavy Water which is partly based on the destruction of this hydro-electric power plant and the I. G. Farben electrolysis works.

Knaben is real mining town, it was built only for the operation of the mine. But unlike other mining towns Knaben was not abandoned after the mine was finally closed. The workers' houses were sold to private individuals and are today used as holiday homes. The area is so popular, additional holiday homes have been built since then. Knaben has become a holiday destination with an exciting history. There are currently no permanent residents but there are facilities for school camps and a general store. There is an alpine ski resort in operation and several mountain lodges in the area. Another highlight in the vicinity is the Knaben Via Ferrata on mount Knabekniben, 786 m asl.. But there are also climbing routes and walking trails, depending on your experience.