Port of Drammen
Review and History

The Port of Drammen is located where the Drams River meets the Drams Fjord some 40 kilometers southwest of the Port of Oslo in southeast Norway. In addition to being the county seat for Buskerud County, the Port of Drammen is both a rail terminus and a seaport.

The local economy is based on the seaport and on the production of wood products, abrasives, plastics, leather goods, textiles, and beer. There is also a granite quarry near the Port of Drammen. In 2007, over 58 thousand people lived in the Port of Drammen.

Port History

The Port of Drammen was established as a municipality in 1838, but rock carvings at nearby Askollen and Skogerveien suggest that humans were here as much as six to seven thousand years ago. Vikings brought their plunder to the Drammensfjord a thousand years ago.

In the 14th Century, a permanent settlement was created on the estuary of the Drammen River at the same time the harbor was being developed as a commercial center. The original Port of Drammen contained three small ports. Bragernes was on the north side of the Drammenselva River. Stromso and Tangen were on the south side of the river. Each port was under the jurisdiction of different towns (Stromso and Bragernes) at first, creating competition and making cooperation unlikely. A perfect harbor for timber exports, the logs were floated down-river to ships at Tangen.

In 1662, a new market town, Frederiksstrom, was proposed to unite the two older towns. Frederick III of Denmark, however, rejected the proposal. Soon, the Port of Drammen was Norway’s main gateway for the export of timber. By the mid-1600s, the Port of Drammen exported twice as much cargo as old Oslo (called Christiania at the time).

In 1715, Bragernes received limited rights as a market town. Finally in 1811, it was merged with Stromso and gained city status. Today, the north reach of the river is called Bragernes, and the south reach is called Stromso. The Port of Drammen’s history is a story of seafaring, ship building, and logging. From the 19th Century until the 1960s, it was also home to several pulp and paper factories.

By the end of the 1700s, pulp and paper mills began to appear on both sides of the river, and new products became exports moving through the Port of Drammen. At that time, the Port of Drammen also had a glass factory, an iron foundry, and a brewery (that is still operating today).

A great fire destroyed much of the city in 1866, leading to the city center’s rebuilding. The first trolley system in Scandinavia arrived in Drammen in 1909, and it ran until 1967. Even so, the city suffered heavy traffic until the European Route E18 bridge was opened in 1970. In 1999, the Bragernes tunnel was opened in Port of Drammen, diverting much traffic out of the city center.

During the last century, both the port and the city have changed a great deal. The paper mills closed in the 1960s, and new businesses moved into the Port of Drammen. Today, major industries include printing, food processing, services, and transportation. The Port of Drammen also imports, rather than exports, more products today. Popular imports include new cars and fresh fruit.

In the recent past, the center of the city has been blessed with renewal. New housing, shopping facilities, cafes, bars, and restaurants have been opened, and a public pathway was constructed along the Drammenselva River.

Much of the Port of Drammen’s cargo-handling facility has moved to the Island of Holmen for its deep-water berthing capacity. While the island was a tiny spot in the estuary in the 15th Century, it has been rising since the last Ice Age by 4 millimeters per year. The island has also been expanding with ongoing reclamation efforts to provide for a modern terminal that can handle the largest vessels and the full range of cargoes.

The oldest operating brewery in Norway, the Aass Brewery, is located in the Port of Drammen. It is famous for its beer and its building. The company also produces soft drinks, many of them shipped to the United States.

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