Trading Activities

Magnus Engzelius (1791-1868) the first businessman in the Engzelius family in Røros, kept in contact with his origins in Sweden and established wide business contacts in the area he came from.

Randi Borgos and Amund Spangen

Trade movements between Norway and Sweden increased considerably and reached a peak in the middle of the 1800s. By then Røros was the most important trading centre for the Swedish county of Harjedalan and large parts of Jamtland and Dalarna. Engzelius employed people in Sarna, Alvdalen and Falun. Swedish people travelled to Røros with iron products, glass, wooden utensils and casks, clocks and other items. The horse-drawn wagons from Alvdalen had a journey of 250 kms. And they took 14 days to make the trip provided conditions were good. There were also large numbers of traders from Vasterdalen, Leksand and Rattvik. The most prized of goods that the Swedes transported back to Sweden were herrings, salt fish and salt. H.J.Sarnberg from Sarna was one of the regular connections of the Swedish side of the border. In 1885 he made an entry in his records of visits from 646 Swedish and Norwegian drivers during the winter months of January, March and April.

The Engzelius family had interests in many fields of business. When chrome deposits were discovered in Feragsfjella in 1820 Magnus Engzelius was one of the first to start mining. His son, Johan Magnus Engzelius (1821-1893) took over the leadership of the chrome mines and he was succeeded by the next two generations. During the First World War Engzelius increased mining activities and had up to 40 men working. In 1918 the chrome mining company delivered 1,200 tons of chrome ore.

Johan Magnus Engzelius was a mining engineer and interested in technological developments. Amongst other achievements he surveyed water levels along Hyttelva and sited a mill at Ora. The grinding house of the mill was later put into use as an electrical generating plant and sawmill. The railway arrived during his time. It meant a great deal for the Røros districts’ trade and industry. Transportation was changed, although the Swedish traders had to continue using horse-drawn wagons to get to Røros and continued their traffic for several generations after the arrival of the railway. Johan Magnus Engzelius assisted to a great extent in getting the road from Røros to Femunden opened up. He also participated in starting up Dampshipselskapet Femund (The Femund Steamship Company) and was elected to the Board of Directors. The Femund vessel made its first trip in 1887, the year after the road was opened.

The son, Gustaf Engzelius (1859-1924) extended the business with new activities. During his time a tannery, a leather goods shop, a shoe factory, a bakery, a tailor’s shop, and a wine and spirit store were started, and he opened up branches in Feragen and Drevsjo. He also participated in starting Røros mineral water, The Røros Cinema Ltd., and Oplands Handelsbank. The family company continued to sell spirits until 1897.

The years between the two World Wars were difficult years for trade in Røros, Gustaf Engzelius Junior had by then taken over the business. The Røros Minining Company had to close down for a period and there was heavy unemployment throughout the whole district. The Engzelius business activities were seriously cut back and some of the company’s properties had to be sold off. At this time the business was turned into a share company.

 After the Second World War the advent of cars and trucks increased revolutionising the transport of goods and the ability to travel. There was an up-swing in trading and the Engzelius family took advantage of the situation by opening a petrol station for the sale of petrol and oil. The company participated in a big way in the export of fish caught in mountain streams and lakes and also wildfowl and game. From 1939 until 1971 Gustaf junior’s son, Rolf Engzelius was in charge of the trading activities and the shop. Subsequently the business has been kept in the family from generation to generation.