History of Jussarö

According to church records, the first permanent residents arrived on Jussarö in 1774. They likely settled on the shores of the strait between the main island and Lilla Jussarö, where there was a sheltered harbor. By the mid-1780s, there were already half a dozen families living on the island.

Jussarö has had significant maritime importance. In 1891, the island received a lighthouse, and even before that, it was an official pilotage location. The earliest mention of Jussarö can be found in a Danish route description from around the turn of the 13th and 14th centuries, which is included in the so-called King Valdemar’s land register. The oldest information about a pilot at Jussarö dates back to 1800.

The island becomes an official pilotage location

In 1813, Jussarö is mentioned as its own pilotage location called “Busö’s outer pilotage location” and by 1839, Jussarö had two permanent pilots and four reserve pilots. In 1859, a watchtower was built on a cliff, later known as Lotsstuberger. In the early 20th century, a larger cabin and observation tower were constructed. In 1891, a cylindrical lighthouse, 20 meters high, was built on the southern tip of the island. In 1922, Finland’s first unmanned lighthouse was built on Sundharu, southwest of Jussarö. The Jussarö lighthouse was subsequently extinguished.

Jussarö has served as a harbor for at least the past 700 years. During this time, hundreds or even thousands of ships have sought shelter in its strait. Jussarö’s significance has been primarily as a sheltered harbor since it has provided very limited residential opportunities. The island has been a key junction point where multiple routes converge. However, the presence of iron ore deposits in the area posed significant challenges for maritime navigation: compasses would show incorrect directions, and prior to the availability of accurate charts and GPS navigators, this could be fatal.

Mining operations start

In 1814, a magnetic occurrence was discovered on the small island of Lerharun, approximately 2 km east of Jussarö. In 1834, Mining Cadet J.E. Westling discovered a promising ore deposit in the northern part of Jussarö. The area of the deposit was acquired by the crown, and ore extraction began the same year. From 1834 to 1837, mining operations continued with a workforce of 14-18 men. Mining was temporarily suspended from 1838 to 1839 but resumed in 1840 under the leadership of Lars Gabriel von Haartman. He resigned in 1858, and the mine was closed in 1861.

Extensive exploration of the ore fields start

In 1954, Oy Vuoksenniska Ab initiated extensive exploration of the ore fields in the vicinity of Jussarö. In the summer of 1959, it was decided to commence mining operations, and construction work began in the same autumn. The construction work and equipment installations were completed in April 1961, and in July, the first load of concentrate was transported to Koverhar. The mine had significant importance for employment and development in the region, temporarily halting the depopulation of the archipelago. However, it became evident that the operation could not continue for long. World market prices were declining while production costs were increasing. In the late autumn of 1967, the mine was closed.

A coast guard station is established on the island

During the 20th century, Jussarö saw various military activities primarily due to its geographical location. In the peace treaty of 1940, Jussarö remained under Finnish control while Hanko was leased to the Soviet Union. Jussarö’s lighthouse was demolished, and a light battery with four cannons was stationed on the island. After the war, Jussarö served as a coastal artillery fortress for the Hanko Coastal Artillery Battalion until 1987. In 1962, the coastal artillery started joint maritime surveillance with the Coast Guard on the island.

The Jussarö Coast Guard Station was established in 1930. In its early years, its main focus was preventing smuggling activities. In 1964, the station received new facilities. Its primary tasks included border control and maritime rescue operations. The Coast Guard Station was closed in November 2011.

Towards becoming a national park

The Tammisaari National Park was established in 1989, and at that time, the western part of Jussarö Island was included in it. The national park is managed by Metsähallitus. During the transition between 2004 and 2005, the eastern part of the island also transferred from the defense forces to Metsähallitus. The island, which had been closed off for a long time, has reopened to the public. However, there are still restrictions on movement within the park.

Source: “Jussarö – arvoituksellinen saari” by Tammisaari Museum and Metsähallitus