The Forsby-Köping Limestone Cableway
From the limestone quarry at Forsby in Vingåker municipality, to the cement factory at Köping in central Sweden, once ran one of the world’s longest aerial cableway. Buckets of limestone travelled for 42 kilometers above the green fields, through the woods and over the lake Hjälmaren. The Forsby-Köping limestone cableway, also known as the Kalklinbanans, and its string of dangling iron buckets was a once familiar sight from European Highway E20.
The cableway was built in 1939 to transport crushed limestone extracted from the quarry at Forsby to Skånska Cement’s cement factory at the industrial town of Koping. At the time of its construction and opening, the cableway was Europe’s longest. Although the title lasted not more than a couple of years, when longer cableways were built, it eventually became the world’s longest cableway in working order when the other cableways were demolished or cut short.
From the year of its inception until 1977, the cableway was in constant operation transporting limestone in 750 bucket-shaped cars, each carrying 1200 kg for a total capacity of 90 metric tons per hour. In 1974 the cement factory was hit by lack of profitability and its capacity was halved. When the situation didn’t improve, the factory was shut down and in 1977 the cableway stopped moving. In 1980, lime production started again and the cableway was once again put into service. Lime transport continued until 1997, but demand for lime had declined to the point that transport became cheaper by truck. When the Forsby-Köping limestone cableway was taken out of service, it had transported 25 million tons of limestone during its 53 years of operation.
Since then the cableway has remained mostly stationary. Attempts have been made to preserve the cableway as an industrial heritage, but with rising cost of maintenance, the cableway’s current owner Nordkalk announced that it can no longer afford its upkeep. When no suitable caretaker was found, Nordkalk began tearing down the cableway starting 2013. About three-quarters are already gone. Friends of the Kalklinbanans are now trying to preserve what remains.
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