Description of the site
In 1870, i.e., soon after the gold deposit was discovered, the State built a base on the bank of Saariporttikoski on the River Ivalojoki to control and administer gold digging. At the station, the gold diggers' permits were inspected, the gold was weighed and tax was imposed on it.
The main building of the Kultala Crown Station was built at a brisk pace. The construction work began in March 1870 and they were able to move in at the beginning of June. The workers' quarters were built on the other side of the Kultala grounds in order to accommodate State officials. There were two rooms in this building, which was heated by fireplaces.
There is still a stone-walled building partly dug into ground on the western side of the main building. This building was apparently used both as an ice cellar and a bakery. There is also a storage building on the edge of the grounds.
There used to be a simple bar on the bank of River Ivalojoki at a distance of about 100 metres from the main building. There were two rooms in the bar. After the gold rush, the bar was no longer used and fell into ruin. The last logs from its walls have probably been burned in the campfires of hikers and gold diggers.
From the grounds of Kultala, a path runs down to the sauna located on the riverbank. The smoke sauna has remained in rather good condition although the sauna has been at risk of burning down on many occasions. Today the sauna is a museum building and is no longer in use.
The Active Years
The Crown Station functioned from 1870 - 1900. At best there were 38 officials at work, the highest-ranking of them being the State official who supervised the mining activities in Lapland. There were five policemen and their assistants responsible for the good order at the Crown Station. After 1875, the number of officials decreased as it was no longer compulsory to sell gold to the State.
In the summer of 1870 there were a total of 335 people working at the gold panning sites on the River Ivalojoki. In five years about forty log or turf cottages were built on the banks of the river. In summertime there were 500 - 600 people (including the officials, owners of claims, gold diggers and drifters) living in the gold areas on River Ivalojoki, and Kultala was one of the largest population centres in northern Finland after the towns.
Aurora Borealis Research
Kultala on the River Ivalojoki also functioned as a base for aurora borealis research. Aurora borealis research concerning the polar region research programme, which was set up by the Finnish Academy of Science, was carried out at Kultala over two winters. An insulated copper wire bobbin was built on top of Pietarlauttanen Fell, and on at least one night, a ray of light was seen to rise from it to the sky. Research was continued in the following winter but new observations were not made.
Restoring the Buildings
By the 1920s, the Kultala buildings were in poor condition. The Suomen Kuvalehti magazine, which was worried about the deterioration of this cultural site, paid for a new shingle roof for the main building in 1931. Otherwise the buildings were not maintained.
The Lapin Kultala Foundation took the initiative to renovate the Kultala buildings under the supervision of the National Board of Antiquities in 1972 and 1982. The workers' quarters, the bakery and the storage building were in bad condition and were therefore restored with the help of old photographs and drawings. The buildings were repaired for the second time in 2000. Metsähallitus took the initiative to protect the entire group of Kultala buildings which led to them being protected by a decree from the Ministry of the Environment in 1994.
In 1970 Metsähallitus built a two-room hut below the workers' quarters for the use of hikers. The hut burned down in 1995. The new hut was completed in 1996 on the eastern side of the main building. One of its two rooms serves as an open wilderness hut and the other as a reservable wilderness hut.
How to get there?
In all likelihood, everyone travelling on River Ivalojoki will stop at the Kultala Gold Mining Village. Hikers favour the path from Pahaoja. The path is good, but the altitude differences are considerable. The old “mail path” from the south is rough. Of course, you can also reach the site along the riverbanks of River Ivalojoki. The south bank is accessible in its entirety. The north bank upstream Ivalojoki is very rough, at places impossible, to walk on, whereas downstream, it is possible but as bleak as the other side. At the Gold Mining Village, there is a suspension bridge over River Ivalojoki.