Remember the Cold War

Shall I compare thee to a summer´s day? What does one do on one of the prettiest days of the year? One goes underground. One goes looking at a canon. A secret canon. A Cold War canon.

This is the Victoria Fort in Vuollerim. It´s basically a canon and a cave in the rock under it for the people tending it. The canon was taken from the warship "The Queen Victoria" (not the English Queen Victoria, but the Swedish Queen Victoria of Baden, who was a bit younger, German, and married to the Swedish king Gustav III) when it was taken out of service in the 50´s. It´s still an impressive piece, though it´s around 100 years old it still looks fit for fight (no rust whatsoever, the guide assures us) and deadly enough.

It´s in the middle of absolutely nowhere, from a global perspective, but on a day like this one can see pretty far, and the view is stunning. That´s Vuollerim down there, and the water you see is Big Lule River and Small Lule River joining up.

Somewhere among the houses is that cute Stone Age Museum that we had been to earlier in the day, the one I posted about before.

I understand that the sheer vastness of our forrests and the wildness of our rivers are on some impressive scale to Englishmen, Germans, etc, coming to visit. And I suppose, when I look at where they are from, I can see their points of view. To us, however, this is just the natural order of things. Forrests are not dangerous places, as long as you don´t have a dog pissing off the occassional elk or bear (it happens! they are deadly!), but don´t expect to be anywhere near "the other side" (forget about pubs!) or within range of the mobil phone services. Make sure you know where you are at all times. Don´t wander off absentmindedly. Wear a bright jacket.

Anyroad. Of course, we wanted to see this canon, and what lay beneath, and so ventured into the underground with our charming and very well informed guide, Emil. He had lots of interesting facts and told us that the installation has been kept almost exactly as it was left by the military when they closed it down for good in 1997. What they have done is take up a few doors, as access was just available through escape hatches, except for one single proper door at the top, near the canon. I´m grateful we didn´t have to crawl our way out of there.

Posters on the walls, reminding everyone about professional secrecy. This one says: "Nowadays everyone is open about everything - but not about the service, of course. Remember the professional secrecy." Notice the late 60´s - 70´s esthetic. "Open about everything" - this was the years of the sexual revolution, the pill, psycho therapy, and LSD trips. But there was also the fear of the big bad Russian wolf and the impending third world war, with nuclear bombs and whatnot.

The canon under ground. They call it the "stalk".

Fat to grease the hinges and ball bearings.

A view inside the canon stalk.

The power generator.

My first phone looked like that! It was green, though. I want that lamp!

The jackets had been washed (smelly, perhaps) before hung in their original places.

Our guide, Emil. I had to buy one of those t-shirts.

The plates were extra heavy, so they could be used to kill the enemy! (or was that a joke?)

The upper crawl-hatch was all there used to be by way of entrance down the mountain.

The over-ground part of the canon.

All in all, a very rewarding day. I warmly recommend it, if you are historically inclined and want to reminisce about the bad old days.

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