to Mr. Bayard.
Stockholm, February 11, 1888. (Received February 27.)
Sir: In response to your circular dispatch under date of January 24 ultimo, I have the honor to report that I have addressed the department here requesting the publications relating to railways, and have supplemented the request by adding a number of interrogatories, with a view of eliciting additional information on the same subject.
I have personal knowledge of the construction of a part of a line of railway in this Kingdom the past year that is not without some interest from the fact that it is the most northern railway in the world.
A few years ago a company was organized, ostensibly English, to build a line of road commencing at a town named Luleå, on the north coast of the Bay of Bothnia; thence in a northwest direcion to Oföten, at the head of the West Fjörd on the Norwegian coast, in latitude 68° 50′ north.
The distance from Luleå to Oföten is about 300 English miles. At first quite an opposition was manifested against granting a charter to the company, it being charged that the enterprise was a Russian one, and by this means Russia could gain her long-desired wish of an outlet to the North Sea. Ultimately, however, the concession was granted, and the work has been under progress for two years. Dutch capitalists furnish the money while English enterprise is in control of the work. Seventy-two English miles are now finished. The formal opening of the line will take place in June of this year, to which ceremony I am invited.
The object of this road is to convey to the sea-board the iron ore found in the interior of the country and heretofore practically inaccessible. This ore is the richest in the Kingdom, running as high as 75 per cent., and it is expected a very great market will be created for it, especially in Germany, as its nearness, cheapness, and richness of quality will be potent factors in its contest with the Spanish ores, which are at present used in Germany.
The port at Oföten is open all winter, and vessels of the largest size can enter the West Fjord. The Baltic ports are, however, closed after October, and remain so until the last of May.
Notwithstanding the extreme degree of cold in that latitude (the railway crosses the Arctic circle), I am informed men can work in the mines and forests without much discomfort, and that no difficulty is experienced in procuring laborers.