Up In Smoke

My weekend getaway in my home town was coming to a close. I was in no hurry to get back home, so I decided to make the most out of my trip.

The Guardian’s article in January had listed the most beautiful rural railroads in Europe, and they had chosen the track between Oulu and Kuopio as one of them. I strongly disagree with this view, but decided nevertheless, to go see it with my own eyes.

Now there are two ways to get from Oulu to the capital region. The easiest and only sensible option is to take the 5,5 to 6,5 hour train on the main North-South track in Finland. This is most widely used, as it’s quite fast and sometimes even very cheap if you book in advance.

There is an option, though. You can take the train running through Kajaani, Kuopio, Mikkeli, Kouvola and Lahti. The line has an amazing 19 stops and lasts for 9,5 hours. It literally makes a turn the shape of an inverted C running through almost the entire width of Finland and descending down South the Eastern trunk route.

Sensible? No. Great entertainment in the midst of a pandemic? Yes. I bought a couple of bottles of white wine and a small bottle of yellowish lemonade, drank the lemonade and went to the toilet to fill up the bottle with wine every now and then. As I remembered, the scenery wasn’t that spectacular. But I was happily drunk by the time we reached the third stop.

Now there was one station I was eagerly awaiting for, and that was Kontiomäki. One of the more spectacular buildings on the route, I knew, that there had been a fire a few weeks back. I had seen pictures of the fire in news reports, and I knew, that the building had suffered badly. But I didn’t expect this.

What had once been one of the most beautiful station buildings in Finland was now one of the saddest sights I had ever seen. The ruins were demolished some time later, and the station was gone for good.

Click here to see how the station looked in its prime.

Published by desertedfinland

A Finnish Urban explorer & Photographer

2 thoughts on “Up In Smoke

  1. The United States has a long and complex history with its railroad system, which has undergone many changes over the years. One of the most significant of these changes has been the removal of railroad lines, which has had a profound impact on the country’s transportation network and the communities that rely on it.

    Railroads were once a dominant mode of transportation in the United States, playing a critical role in the country’s economic growth and development during the 19th and early 20th centuries. However, with the rise of the automobile and the interstate highway system in the mid-20th century, the importance of railroads began to decline.

    Where I grew up, racism was the motivation to remove the railroad line that served my town, and the last train went through when I was a little girl, sometime in the late 1980’s. The town where I grew up has a historic rail depot that is slowly decaying, despite its historic significance. The town itself, now forever cut-off from rail passenger service that has become widely adopted in recent years, is struggling more than ever. Whenever I go back to the town where I grew up to visit my mom, it seems that more and more of the places that made up my neighborhood are falling down, and in some cases, burning to the ground.

    1. Thank you for your interesting comment! This made me interested in researching the history of your home town. Feel free to share it with me, if you like.

      I’m also a bit of a rail nerd myself, and have played Railroad Tycoon since my childhood. A few years back I switched to NIMBY Rails, which allows me to recreate the entire rail network of Finland as it used to be.

      Correct me if I’m wrong, but I think the main difference between railroads in Finland and the US is, that yours has always been private, while ours has always been run by a state monopoly. Although the rail network only covers a very narrow area of Finland, all the way until the 1980’s the station network was pretty extensive with small blue Diesel railcars stopping in nearly every village. When they were retired, only very few cities remain in rail service.

      All the station buildings were also owned by the state. Many have since been sold and have become private homes, restaurants and such. Only the stations in large cities are still open for passengers. In smaller locations you can only buy a ticket from a machine on the platform. I actually believe that this building was still in use when it burned, and the reason to its destruction was an electrical malfunction, not arson.

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