The International Steam Pages


Icelandic Steam Survivors

Dennis Graham advises (10th March 2016) that "Minør" is put indoors during the winter period and is inaccessible during that period.


James Waite reports on yet another 'quickie':

I made an overnight trip to Iceland in July 2008. Two steam locos are preserved there.

The locos, "Pionér" and "Minør", are both 900mm gauge Jung machines built in 1892, works numbers 129 and 130. Pionér's plates now carry works number 1591 and a building date of 1910 but the plates have clearly been altered and it is thought that the loco was fitted with a new boiler then. The two locos were originally supplied to an industrial user in Rostock, Germany and later ran in Copenhagen. The Reykjavik Harbour Railway (the first railway in Iceland) was built in 1913 to carry stone from from quarries to the south of Reykjavik for the construction of the breakwaters at Reykjavik harbour. The locos moved from Copenhagen to Reykjavik the same year. The harbour was completed in 1918 but the railway continued to operate on a reduced scale until it was closed in 1928. 

"Minør" now lives on the quayside at the southernmost corner of the harbour, next to where visiting cruise liners moor and close to Geirsgata, a dual carriageway which bypasses the old town centre immediately to its south. It’s more or less in the position of one of the old harbour tracks and is surrounded by a display of old photos of the harbour, some of which show the railway and the locos in action. It was buried in scrap metal etc. until about 12 years ago when it was reprieved and put on display on a short length of the old track.

Pionér is at the Árbær Museum on the eastern side of the town. Their website is at http://www.arbaejarsafn.is/desktopdefault.aspx. They were the only steam locos ever to run in Iceland. It must be the only country to have preserved 100% of its steam fleet!

Both these locos can be visited comfortably in a morning or afternoon, though be aware that the museum is only open to the public from the beginning of June to the end of August – between 10.00 and 17.00hrs. It’s an open-air folk museum though Pionér is kept in a shed which it shares with an Aveling & Porter steamroller, the only one in Iceland, and an old fire engine. There's a direct bus, the number 6, which goes from Laekjartorg, about 250 yards south of where Minør is but about 5 minutes walk by the time you've waited to cross Geirsgata. The bus runs along Miklabraut, the main motorway east out of the town and the stop for the museum is at Artun. The museum is about 6-7 minutes walk to the south east. There's a good location map on the museum website which shows the walk from Artun to the museum. The bus runs once every half hour and it’s a 19 minute ride between Laekjartorg and Artun.

The number 6 bus is also useful as it goes past the BSI coach station which is the terminus for coaches to and from the international airport.

Reykjavik is an attractive town. There aren’t many grand buildings and the whole place is quite compact. Many of the older houses are clad in corrugated iron and are quite distinctive in design. Iceland has a reputation for being an expensive country but I thought that the prices of many things seemed rather lower than in the UK. The sale of beer was prohibited until 1989. The Icelanders seem bent on making up for lost time now and at the weekends partying seems to go on for most of the night. Food was plentiful and good though I didn't try the whale steaks!

Iceland's only other railway was the Kárahnjúkar Light Railway, a diesel-operated line built in the early 2000's for construction work on a large hydro-electric power project in the east of the country. The line was busy and usually three trains ran at the same time. The work for which the railway was required has finished and it has closed although the project as a whole is not expected to be complete until 2009. Much of the railway equipment has now returned to Italy from which it had been leased.


Rob Dickinson

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