Fruholmen Lighthouse, the northernmost lighthouse
“About four miles northwest of Hammerfest and about as far from the (North) Cape, is Fruholmen. The Arctic Sea wallows just against it and a raw climate and frequent storms make it an unenviable place of residence.” Such was Lighthouse Director Dirik’s description of Fruholmen lighthouse in 1866 – the year the northernmost lighthouse was lit.
- Fruholmen Lighthouse (Norwegian: Fruholmen fyr, former name Norskholmen fyr) is a coastal lighthouse located in Måsøy Municipality in Finnmark county, Norway. It sits on a tiny islet just off the northern coast of the island of Ingøya.
- The lighthouse was established in 1866 and it is the northernmost lighthouse in Norway. This is the first of the three major lighthouses that guide ships around the Nordkapp (North Cape) into the Barents Sea, and it is actually the northernmost of the three. The original cast iron lighthouse was destroyed during World War II. The station became fully automated in 2006
- The present light stands 59 feet/18 meters tall and 156 feet/47.7 meters above the high tide mark.
- The current lighthouse consists of a tall square white concrete tower with a red lantern on top. The light in the lantern flashes white every 20 seconds. There is a secondary light located lower in elevation that flashes white, red or green light depending on direction, occulting three times every 10 seconds.
- Site open, tower closed.
Conditions for the lighthouse keepers
- The conditions for the keepers were tough on this exposed islet 71 degrees north. In spite of that, Fruholmen’s keepers earned less than keepers at other stations. The low pay stemmed from the fact that in the early years the light was lit only from late August until the end of December.
- To survive, those who lived in Fruholmen relied on food caught from the sea. Their primary food was cod they received through the Capelin fishery, since fishing for their own food always carried a certain touch of chance.
- The only local vegetables that could grow under these harsh conditions were rhubarb and onions.
- There was little luxury at the lighthouse, but some improvement arrived when Russian traders, the Pomars, came to the Finnmark coast to trade for fish. The Russians brought various flours, potatoes, salt meat and some sweets. Pomor trade ended after the Russian Revolution of 1917.
- Life on Fruholmen meant long periods of lonely isolation. In the winter, the only contact with the outside world was the post ship which stopped every 14 day.
- While the men tended the lighthouse itself, it was the wives and children who tended the household and farm operations. There was little schooling was for kids, although some winters saw a governess come to provide the most elementary teaching.
- A most unpredictable and dangerous threat was the many harsh hurricanes. A giant tsunami struck in January 1882. The assistant’s residence was washed to sea, but no lives were lost. The only loss of life occurred in 1931 when the Keepers’ 9 year old daughter was washed to sea. There was a hurricane in 1975 that destroyed the two boathouses and all the contents.
- The War. In November 1944, occupying Germans forces gave the people at the lighthouse one day to pack up and leave the lighthouse. The lighthouse was completely demolished, all except a little house. At the end of the war much of the coast of Finnmark was in ruins. In 1947 about 300 lighthouse workers were busy rebulding the coastal lighthouses. Fruholmen took three seasons to rebuild.
Måsøy municipality, Finnmark
- Rolvsøy or Rolvsøya is part of Måsøy municipality. It is a large island located northeast of Hammerfest. The island stands at the bend of the Norwegian coast from east-west, leading to Nordkapp (North Cape).
- Rolvsøya is a 89-square-kilometre (34 sq mi) island with a population (2001) of 72. The island is located south of the island of Ingøya and north and west of the mainland, separated by the Rolvsøysundet.
- The island is mountainous and is almost bisected by the Valfjorden from the west and the Langfjorden from the east with an 800-metre (2,600 ft) wide swampy isthmus in between. Almost all settlements are on the island’s northern part. On the west side lies the fishing village of Tufjord and on the eastern side is the seaside village of Gunnarnes where there is a ferry connection to Havøysund and Ingøy. Gunnarnes Chapel is located on the east side of the island.
- Ingøya is an island on the edge of the Arctic Ocean in Måsøy Municipality in Finnmark county, Norway. The 18-square-kilometre (6.9 sq mi) island lies just north of the island of Rolvsøya and west of Hjelmsøya. The sparsely populated island is only accessible by boat. There are regular ferry connections at the port in the village of Ingøy on the north side of the island. The ferry connects to Gunnarnes on Rolvsøya and Havøysund on the island of Havøya. The island has about 27 inhabitants (2010). The Ingøy radio transmitter is located about 2 kilometres (1.2 mi) south of the village of Ingøy. Fruholmen Lighthouse lies just off the northern coast of the island.
- From the northwest, the broad Mafjorden cuts into the island of Ingøya and on the east side there is an open bay called Sanden. The southwestern part of the island is quite mountainous with the highest peak being the 332-metre (1,089 ft) tall Mafjordfjellet. The southern and eastern parts of the island are flat and partially swampy. The northern part is a more mountainous part where the fishing village of Ingøy is located. Ingøy Church is located in Ingøy village. Historically, Mafjorden, Gåsnes, and Ingøy were all large fishing villages. There were two whaling stations located in Mafjorden that operated until the early 20th century.