Law and Order

Common for all gold rushes is that prospecting and social phenomena relating to it have been controlled by legislations either before or during the rush.  

Gold fever in Finnish Lapland did not provide same scale disorders or the amount of jobbers as the big gold rushes around the world, California and Ballarat as examples. However, even for northern Lapland, it was necessary to create common rules to ensure order and thus the emperor of Russia, Alexander II, set an act concerning gold prospecting in Lapland of Finnish Grand Duchy.  Furthermore, an officer house Kultala Crown Station was built for summer 1870. It served as a base for about 40 officers, who watched the rules were followed, took in reports, admitted prospecting permissions etc.  

The gold prospecting regulation/act itself took small steps towards democratic direction partly because the leaders of Grand Duchy of Finland were quite determinant. Quite many nobles and big company owners in Russia wanted the regulation to concern only them but at the end, gold prospecting was allowed to every man with good reputation. In later aspect, the law itself was a peculiar combination of Eastern and Western legislation but it served the purposes of those days.   

How did the prospectors obey the law? In northern Lapland obviously quite well, though officers had, for instance, cases related to borders of the claims. Near Kultala Crown Station was a saloon so it was difficult to avoid occasional fights when tired men – or part of them – took that one drink too much. In general, things went smoothly, though there were 500-600 prospectors in the area during the busiest first years. One of the things that also affected was the fact the law was controlled strictly. Information about happenings and some disorders during the bigger gold rushes elsewhere in the world made the act quite strict. Especially section number 52 defined specifically what a prospector can do and what he cannot do.  Prospectors were made also to keep an eye on each other.  

Another thing, however, is how the duty related to reporting and tax paying was followed – despite the strict act. Stories relating to this matter tell that during the early years of gold rush part of the prospectors smuggled their gold found to the Norwegian side of border and this happened for two reasons. The first one was that they did not have to report about that gold and neither had they pay taxes to the emperor for that gold. Secondly, the gold price paid was higher in Norway than in Grand Duchy of Finland. Thus, despite the risks the smuggling was so useful that it has been estimated some amounts of gold had been brought and sold in Norway, especially during the first years of River Ivalojoki gold rush.  Photos: Archives of Gold Prospector Museum.