9. Høje Meder – lower terrace
When walking on The Quarry Worker’s Footpath from the plateau at Hammersø towards the first, lower terrace you ascend by a slope which was used for a cable railway when the quarry was still operating. A system of wires and brakes slowed down the cargo wagons and used the weight of the full wagons to pull empty wagons back up to the quarry.
On the photo you can see the cable railway that the footpath from Hammersø to the lower terrace is situated on today.
Double cable railway at the quarry around 1900. It was railways like this, that brought the granite down from the slopes (Bendt Kjøller/Bornholms Museum).
Two square boulders on the lower terrace. These have been used to anchor the cable railway’s braking device.
On the lower terrace, about 50 meters from the cable railway this circular shape can be seen on the rockface. It was probably created when the bedrock formed 1.4 billion years ago (Knud Aage Månsson).
10. Høje Meder – middle terrace
When you go up the steps from the lower terrace to the middle terrace, you climb up an even steeper slope than the one leading to the lower terrace. The slope was built for another cable railway and when you reach the middle terrace you can see square rocks used for anchorage as well as remains of cable attachments on the rockface.
The steps between the lower and middle terrace are situated on the remains of yet another cable railway.
The middle terrace.
11. Høje Meder – the third terrace
From the steps between the middle terrace and the third terrace at the top of Høje Meder, you can look down on Humledalshusene, also known as Humlehodda, a small row of houses built for housing quarry workers and their families. There was a quarry’s smithy adjacent to the houses. Visit www.humledalshusene.dk for more info. From the top of Høje Meder there is an impressive panoramic view over Sandvig, Langebjerg, Hammersholm and the castle ruins of Hammershus. If you look closely you can still see cable attachments in the bedrock if you look closely. These were used to anchor the flagpole flying the Danish state flag after the Danish State took over Hammerknuden. From the summit at Høje Meder the footpath leads via the small lake Gamledam down to the green lake Opalsøen.
Humledalshusene while the quarry at Høje Meder was in operation.
The small lake Gamledam as it looked before trees grew and surrounded it.
12. The quarry at Opalsøen
The outbreak of World War I in 1914 hit the communities in Northern Bornholm hard. The quarry workers lost their jobs from one day to another when the quarry closed in 1916 and the tourist trade was severely afflicted because the flow of German tourists stopped. Social consequences were dire and many had to move away due to the lack of jobs. From 1911 to 1921 the number of people living on Northern Bornholm diminished to two thirds of the former level. The severe unemployment prompted the Danish State to approve renewed quarrying on Hammerknuden in 1919. The concession went to the corporation Møller & Handberg who started operations in the area southwest of Høje Meder. Møller & Handberg modernized the quarry: Rail carts were replaced by conveyor belts and as road construction changed from cobbles to asphalt the production of cobblestones changed to stone chippings which were used as base for the paving. By 1928 a new stone chipping factory was finished and in 1930 a new loading dock was built at Hammerhavn. Five hundred tons of crushed stone were produced daily on what was now one of Europe’s most modern crushing works. Stone chippings were the primary product for the rest of the quarry’s existence.
However there were still many who wanted an end to the quarrying, and after a failed attempt at conservation in 1958 Hammerknuden was finally listed for preservation in 1967. The quarry concession was still maintained in a confined area but according to the conservation declaration it could not be renewed if operations ceased. After this only a few years went by before the quarry industry on Hammerknuden came to an end. In 1971, partly due to foreign competition, the quarry was closed, partly because of foreign competition. During the 1970’s the old industrial buildings was removed and draining of the quarry stopped, creating the lake Opalsøen (Opal Lake) at the bottom of the old quarry.
Today the area around Opalsøen is used for outdoor activities. The steep cliffs are used for rappelling and climbing, a 290 meters long ropeway leads into the lake and bathing is allowed. The cliffs are populated by herring gulls and in the spring, it is possible to get a close-up view of their large, grey chicks.
The quarry at what is now the lake Opalsøen (Bornholms Museum).
The quarry in 1956 (Sylvest Jensen Luftfoto/Det Kongelige Bibliotek).
Opalsøen today seen from the top of the abandoned quarry.
The harbor Hammerhavn, also known as Sænehavn is situated in the Sæne Bay. Sæne is an old local word for sand or sandy beach. Like Osandbugten at Sandvig the bay is a natural harbour and has been used as such back to prehistoric times. In the middle ages it was the landing site for ships going to and from Hammershus but it was only after von Ohlendorffs acquisition of Hammerknuden that a real harbour was built in Sæne Bay. Until then rocks from the quarries was shipped from the harbour at Allinge, but von Ohlendorff wanted a better infrastructure and built Hammerhavn in 1891-1892. While the quarry was active Hammerhavn was a busy industrial harbour with industrial buildings. The remains of these buildings can still be seen on the slopes north of the harbour. These days Hammerhavn is mostly used mainly for pleasure crafts, tour boats and the pilot boat. In 2012 the harbour was renovated including new wooden buildings for sports clubs, kiosk and service functions. In one of them you can find a small exhibition about the history of the quarries.
Hammerhavn with factory buildings and cobble stones ready for shipping.
Hammerhavn in 2017.
Cobble stones are loaded onto a ship at Hammerhavn. Hammershus castle ruins can be seen in the background (Bornholms Museum).
14. Hammersø and the spring
When you follow The Quarry Worker’s Footpath north along the eastern shore of the lake Hammersøen you pass a small spring on the right at the edge of the forested area Sjøljerne. It is told that the quarrymen used to take their drinking water from here. Hammersøen is Bornholm’s largest lake with a surface area of about 10 hectares and a depth up to 13 meters. The lake is situated eight meters over sea level and is often called Denmark’s only mountain lake. From the eastern shore you have a spectacular view to Hammerknuden’s bedrock as well as Høje Meder’s old quarry, where the three terraces can be clearly seen.
The spring at Sjøljerne (Torben Christensen).
The famous Danish painter Holger Drachmann’s painting of Hammersøen from 1870. This was before the quarrying started. The original painting can be seen at the art museum Bornholms Kunstmuseum.
A contemporary photo taken from the same angle as Drachmann’s painting. As you can see the large cliffs to the right in the picture are markedly reduced from the quarrying.
15 – Housing for quarry workers
In Sandvig the path passes by two rows of houses: Langelinie on Hammershusvej (20 houses) and Sandlinien at Osandbugten (12 houses). These were built around 1900 by Bornholms Granitværk as homes for the quarry workers and their families. They were built in an English style, and were very small after today’s standards, around 35 square meters for an entire family. The ground floor had a living room, chamber, kitchen and small hall. On the first floor there was a second chamber that the families often rented out for an extra income. The privy was in the backyard. If a quarryman became unfit for work, or if there wasn’t enough work for him, the entire family had to vacate the house.
Today most of the houses have been connected two and two so that the accommodation is double the original size. At the western gable of Langelinie is an audioguide with stories about life in the houses in 1930 told by one of Sandvig’s older citizens. You can see a model of one of the houses at the quarry museum at Moseløkken. Visit the quarry museum’s webpage.
Worker’s families at their living-quarters.
The houses at Sandlinien. You pass them just before the path returns to its starting point at Osandbugten.
After Langelinie the path goes left to Hammersøbækken, a small brook that leads the water from Hammersø over Sletten to Osandbugten. Most of the brook now runs in a ditch. Older citizens of Sandvig remember that when the first soldiers of the Soviet occupation arrived at Sandvig by train in 1945, they marched down to Sletten to wash in the brook. One citizen recalls that they were soldiers from eastern Russia and had Asian features; “looking happy but visibly marked by the horrors of the eastern front and very dirty,” one citizen remembers.
On the path along the brook you pass Ellas Konditori (Ella’s Coffee- and tearooms) on the right. The tall building once housed the soft drink factory Mineralvandsfabriken “Bornholm” where they made soda with the radioactive water from Radiumkilden.
Soviet troops at the train station in Sandvig, May 9 1945 (Archive of the resistance movement/Allinge-Sandvig byforenings arkiv).
Hammersøbækken about 1900 (Bendt Kjøller/bornholmskefotografer.dk).