The writer B.M.Keilhaug has described a journey he made from Alta to Karasjok in March 1828 when they had to spend four nights in the wilderness on the Finnmark Plateau. The first night they slept in the snow whilst the second night they spent at Mollesjohk Fjellstue. There was no resident keeper and they slept in a simple log building that had bunks along the walls, an open hearth in the middle of the floor and a hole in the roof to let the smoke out.

The old travellers' tracks across the county of Finnmark often went through vast areas of wilderness with no settlements and there might be several days of walking between lodgings. As government officials needed somewhere to stay during their travels, it became a public concern to provide lodgings and the network Statens Fjellstuer (the government's mountain lodges) was established during the 19th century. Until 1876 the maintenance of these were paid for from a fund based on taxation of liquor. The fund's main purpose was to encourage settlers to move to distant unpopulated areas, set up smallholdings and provide lodgings for travellers. The mountain lodge keepers were given modest cash payments but more importantly, land, fishing and hunting rights as well as the right to collect cloudberries and harvest hay on certain areas of grass covered land. There were also some very basic mountain lodges that had no on-site keeper or food provision. Towards the end of the 19th century the government took responsibility for all mountain lodges in Finnmark.

Transportation by reindeer was the most common mode of transport on the Finnmark Plateau until well after WW2. Several animals would be used at the same time and they would also need food and rest as well as somewhere to be safe during the night. Around the mountain lodges there would be specially protected areas of reindeer moss and lichen would also be stored for times of difficult feeding conditions.


Mollesjohk fjellstue