Exploring the History of the Statue of Liberty in Visnes, Norway

There are many places scattered throughout Norway that are so off-the-path that many people miss them or simply don’t take the time to visit them.  While I think the transportation system in Norway is phenomenal (sorry, I’m American, so any form of public transportation still blows me away), some of these places are just not as easily reached by bus or train and need to be visited by car.  Visnes, Norway is one of those places.  And while Visnes isn’t a city that rings a bell to most folks, it is actually pretty important when it comes to the history of the Statue of Liberty.  And it is the perfect day trip from Bergen or Haugesund.

Many Americans living in Norway are well-aware that the Statue of Liberty’s birthplace is actually located in their adopted homeland but don’t really know where exactly to find Lady Liberty’s roots.  The map below shows you where you need to head if you want to learn about the Statue of Liberty’s history and see where the copper for the Statue of Liberty actually came from:

In order to see it up close, you must head to a small village on Karmøy in Rogaland, Norway.  The name of the village is Visnes and it is easily accessible by vehicle.  The village is 2.5 kilometers, or 1.5 miles west of the village of Avaldsnes.  Visnes has about 570 people living there, excluding the many sheep that roam the area.

In 2010, I had the pleasure of visiting Visnes with my Norwegian friend, Marta, whom I’ve known since childhood.  She was living in Haugesund at the time (but is originally from beautiful Stord Island) and took me on a mini-road trip to Karmøy.  Visnes was our second stop of the day.

Visnes, Norway mining field

Visnes, Norway

Visnes, Norway

Visnes, Norway

As most already know, the Statue of Liberty in New York is made from copper.  And most of that copper came from this very mine, which has since closed down, in Visnes, Norway.  The name of the mine was Vigsnes, and during the 1870s it was Norway’s largest copper mine, not to mention one of Northern Europe’s largest.  Furthermore, in 1895, the mining field actually did become Northern Europe’s largest.

Statue of Liberty's birthplace in Visnes, Norway

<my friend, Marta, on the right>

Visnes, Norway

I never really knew much about the backstory of the Statue of Liberty until I did some proper research on it after I visited Visnes.  Evidently, it was not until the 1980s and the 100th anniversary of the statue that people, researchers, and historians began to question its origins.  There had been rumors that the origins came from Visnes, Norway, but nothing made that rumination official .

The speculation mounted from the fact that the mine was actually French-owned.  In 1986, in an effort to quell any further concerns, the copper from the Statue of Liberty was tested against the copper at Vigsnes and it was determined to be a positive match, meaning that the copper did, in fact, come from this little town in western Norway.

Visnes, Norway

Vigsnes Mining Field shut down in its entirety in 1972.  Today, all that stands is a museum called Vigsnes Grubemuseum and a miniature replica of the Statue of Liberty perched on the western shore of Karmøy.  It is open to visitors and I highly recommend a trip down there, regardless of nationality, as this mine was an important piece of Norwegian (and American history) and you will also have the opportunity to witness the resplendent Karmøy terrain.

There are many random facts about the Statue of Liberty that people are aware of, but not many people seem to know much about the Statue of Liberty’s copper and its origins.  It is so interesting, and ironic that it comes from this small village in western Norway.

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The Statue of Liberty is an iconic symbol of freedom in the United States. What many do not realize is that the history of the Statue of Liberty actually began in a small mining village in western Norway in a village called Visnes. This post discusses that village and how to get there when visiting Norway. #norway #statueofliberty #scandinavia #offthepath

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Comments (15)

Mirøslav Hristøff

Very interesting information. Thank you for sharing it! These facts show the paradox that we live in the century of the information technologies but sometimes still the information is incomplete.

definitely! it was a pretty cool discovery and not one many people know about.

These pictures are breathtaking. I enjoyed seeing them as much as I did learning more of Lady Liberty’s history.

thank you! i swear norway doesn’t have a bad angle ;)

Cool article, Megan :) And why did you not tell me about this when I still lived in Norway??? That would’ve been a fun road trip, no doubt. And I liked how, in the photo with you and your friend next to Lady Liberty, you made a point of telling us who was who (I mean, three ladies standing next to each other, I can see some people getting confused)!

hahhaha i didn’t even think about this too much after this as it was so far away from oslo to visit. and im laughing at your comment about indicating who is who. this was back in my blonde days so wasn’t sure if anyone would even recognize me! hope yall are doing well in TN!

There is a mini Statue of Liberty statue in Richmond VA too. Chimborazo park, just in case you need to round out your Statue of Liberty experiences in your hometown https://www.google.com/search?q=chimborazo+park&rlz=1CDGOYI_enUS623US623&hl=en-US&prmd=minv&source=lnms&tbm=isch&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwj59IvZn6zKAhXEbz4KHT1DBqoQ_AUICSgC#imgrc=poX6P4jZ8RskeM%3A.

what?!?! i feel like there is so much to explore in my hometown still. i can’t wait to go back and see this! thanks so much for sharing. if you have any other cool RVA tips- send them my way :)

and by the way- ive never even heard of this park. insane.

Really fascinating. I always thought it had been made in France and your mention of that made it all very clear. Wow Norway is way more involved in everything than i had ever anticipated.

norway is a pretty kickass place, isn’t it ;)

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