There are many fascinating villages around the Arjeplog municipal area, villages with an interesting history and unique conditions. One of those is the mountain village Västerfjäll, where Elisabet Strandberg grew up. On a beautiful summer’s day she guided visitors to the chapel and told them what it was like growing up in a small mountain village.
– When I started school, children from this area had to stay at a boarding school in Arjeplog. It would have taken too long travelling back and forth to school every day. I vaguely remember there being some kind of classroom here in the village once, in a timbered barn by the lake. There was a fireplace and long benches to sit on, she tells us.
Västerfjäll’s most active period was during the 40s and 50s. There was no road here, or electricity, but plenty of people around. There was a general store for example, and very popular dances were arranged, with people arriving by boat across Lake Tjeggelvas to dance and socialise.
The Swedish Tourist Association, STF, was interested in Västerfjäll because the King’s Trail went past the village. Elisabet’s grandmother and grandfather provided hikers with service and also offered them overnight accommodation. In 1985 the last permanent resident left Västerfjäll and that stretch of the King’s Trail was moved.
Nowadays Elisabet Strandberg has a cabin in Västerfjäll and a house in Boliden.
– I often think about the heavy and laborious work faced by my older relatives, farming and keeping livestock on the barren mountain.
Västerfjäll has been an important place to the Sámi for centuries with many settlements. In 1863 Enar Jonsson Ståntje established a farm. Next generation two families lived on three farms in Västerfjäll.
Västerfjäll’s chapel was inaugurated in 1957.
– It took ten years to plan the project. A sawmill was set up on a promontory nearby, Elisabet Strandberg points. Trees were felled and timber sawed. The people behind the initiative were among others Arvid Kaddik and builders J.A. Persson and Anton Enarsson, the latter Elisabet Strandberg’s uncle. The chapel was also equipped with a bell tower, crowned by a handsome rooster. The church bell was donated by King Gustav VI Adolf.
Elisabet Strandberg also told us a gripping life story, one of many.
– Two Polish soldiers had been taken prisoner by the Germans in Norway. They fled in 1944 and came to a cabin by Lake Fálesjávrre here by the Pite River. They were starving and managed to get in and have something to eat, but they both died. The two young men were given their own crucifix in the chapel. A large white cross marks their resting place at the graveyard in Arjeplog.