The town of Kongsberg was founded in the year 1624 by Christian IV, a Danish-Norwegian king. The original name was Konings Bierg and the town was founded as a mining community. A royal charter of trade was granted to the town in 1802. Today the town is most well known for being the home of the major defense contractor of Norway, Kongsberg Gruppen. The top products for the company include the Krag Jorgensen rifle and the Kongsberg Colt. The rifle was adopted by Norway, Denmark, and the United States as the standard for their armies during the 19th century.
The town of Kongsberg is known for the silver mines that are in the area. There were about 1350 tons of silver extracted from the mines from their discovery in the year 1623 until they were closed in 1957. About 4000 people worked in the silver mines in 1770 and Kongsberg was the 2nd largest town in the country.
Several years with a reduced amount of silver being mined combined with a war that lasted from 1807 through 1814, and a fire in the town during 1810, mining had to be complemented with the government established defense industry. The town’s employement is now dominated by the defense industry as well as other high tech activity.
In the year 1987, Kongsberg Vapenfabrikk, which was the state owned weapons factory suffered from a large financial crisis and accusations of breaching CoCom rules. The company was accused of selling weapons to the Soviet Union. The company was split into several units and some units were sold to private investors.
Kongsberg Photo Gallery
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