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– is a small and peaceful community and a local train station across the Stjørdal river from Trondheim Airport, Værnes.


It is famous for two reasons. The second reason is that Miss Universe 1990, Mona Grudt, was born and grew up in the vicinity and used this address.

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A bridge to Hell, across the Stjørdal River, close to Trondheim Airport, Værnes. Although appropriate, I assume that the sign on the bridge is meant for the tourists. They seem to appreciate it, because usually the sign has been gone. Now it has been thoroughly fastened; all nuts have been welded to the steel structure.

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Hell, early spring view from the hill behind the train station (which is discernible above the picture center). Hell is a bit larger than this, about 350 inhabitants I've heard, but nobody is able to define the boundary. It's situated in the old administrative unit (then called 'herred') Lånke south of the Stjørdal River. Now Lånke is merged with Stjørdal on the north side of the river and the common name is Stjørdal (now called 'kommune'). But to most tourists it's all Hell.

Crossroads at the  Lånke church , close to Hell, both on the south side of the Stjørdal River. There are two churches in Lånke (Lånke and Elvran), none of them in Hell.

The Hell train station. Local trains may stop here, but the building doesn't belong to the railway any more. Just buy the ticket on the train.

The name Hell stems from Old Norse 'hellir' (now 'heller') which means a cave or an overhanging cliff that may be used for shelter. There are three of those in Hell proper. The acts of William the Conqueror in 1066 had a profound effect on the English language, but still many words are similar to corresponding Norwegian words. Thus 'Hell' in English is 'helvete' in Norwegian, coming from Old Norse 'helvíti', i.e. hel + víti, the latter meant 'punishment' and the former was the same in Old English.

Some foreign words are – let's say – interesting. In this case the name has been used to attract tourists. Tourism is business, and business doesn't always mean good taste. The lower word on the sign was originally 'godsekspedisjon' which means baggage/freight office. 'Gods' is equivalent to English 'goods', and ekspedisjon ('expedition') has in Norwegian the additional meanings of 'forwarding' / 'sending', and 'office for serving the public' (which both may be appropriate here). The strange spelling on the sign may pass as 'ancient' Norwegian-Danish. Incidentally – there hasn't been a baggage of freight office here for decades.

Notice the snow? It's certainly melting, but that's because it's springtime. Remember, though, that if we can speak of a equivalent to Hell in the Old Norse religion, it was not hot like that of the originally warm region Christian religion, it was cold, bitterly cold ...

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Autumn update. The sign on the right wall has disappeared; if it was stolen it would be no surprise.

The title on these terrible postcards is "Evening mood Hell st.". They first appeared in 1966 when a few steam locomotives were still around, and they are still among the most sold ones. If you like it, please  e-mail me  and I'll send you one from the heap if there is any left (don't forget the snail-mail address).

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On the hill above the Hell train station there are several rock carvings, maybe 5000 years old. Similar petroglyphs are found in several places throughout the country.

Detail of the petroglyph. This is evidently about game; at that time hunting was essential for survival.

Springtime in Hell. European Liverleaf (Hepatica nobilis) growing close to the rock carvings above, the very first one to bloom. This plant needs soil containing lime to thrive, less common in Norway, but abundant along the inner part of the Trondheim Fjord, from Hell and north to Snåsa.

The old Hell post office by courtesy of the Lånke Historical Society (website in Norwegian). Later on it was moved to a house near the train station, then it was outsourced to a grocery shop, and now it's found in the XY service station less than a kilometer east of the train station. There are two post offices in Lånke and the Hell one serves the largest part. Therefore the major part of the people in Lånke has address Hell.

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The mailbox outside the Hell post office. Emptied weekdays 16:00 and Saturdays 13:00

To explain the logo of the postal service. 'Posten' quit being royal many years ago. The new logo: Red turns white on red background.

The XY service station & the Hell post office.
If you visit Hell and want those back home to get postcards with the HELL cancellation, it might seem a good idea to put them in one of the Hell mailboxes. Unfortunately, this isn't guaranteed to work any more, so to be safe you should go to the Hell post office in the service station and ask for it. The owner is a nice guy and you can buy postcards from Hell there – and fuel for your car too.

A letter from Hell by courtesy of  Paul Petosky . It was mailed in 1938 by Lieutenant Lorentz Stenvig, then Chairman of the Lånke District Assembly (Lånke was then an administrative unit, Hell is a village in Lånke). Being invited to New York to participate in Robert L. Ripley's "Believe It or Not" radio show on NBC, Stenvig went there in April 1938. He was then consistently referred to as the "Mayor of Hell". Quoting The New York Times, April 16, 1938: "The Mayor of Hell, a gentle, pensive man with none of the attributes of the fabled overlord of the infernal regions, arrived yesterday ...". Upon his return Stenvig was often referred to as, translated from Norwegian, "the [army] major from Hell". Since the military rank of major is written identically in North American English and Norwegian, this might have been either an intended or unintended mistake (mayor > major, few Norwegians spoke English then, and he was a military man). The stamp depicts the  Borgund stave church  and the postage in Norwegian kroner has increased 60-fold since then.

Mayor of Hell

More about the  "Mayor of Hell" 

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As stated previously, the name Hell is useful as a tourist attraction. Hell lies on the south side of the river (Stjørdalselva) where there hasn't been much suitable and available space for tourist business, whereas the north side of the river has been more favorable ...

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Rica Hell Hotel
– on the wrong side of the river

Hell Shopping Center
– on the wrong side of the river.

Blues in Hell festival

On the other hand, the annual  Blues in Hell  festival is now taking place on the correct side of the river, in heated tents (capacity 1800) close to the famous train station in Hell proper.

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The mouth of the Stjørdal river viewed from the hill behind the Hell train station in early spring. Trondheim airport Værnes is close by, but on the north side of the river, the west end of the runway discernible. Renaming it to 'Trondheim airport Hell' has to my knowledge never been proposed, thank God.

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changed 2011-07-18