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The Crossing

On Brigs and Barks
Most parties of emigrants after 1836 crossed the Atlantic on Norwegian brigs and barks. Kristiania (Oslo), Bergen and Stavanger became the most important ports of departure. Some went to the New World via Gothenburg on Swedish or American ships that transported iron, and others left from Le Havre in France.

During the 1840s Norwegian emigrant shipping companies came into existence. The repeal of the British Navigation Acts in 1849 permitted Norwegian ships to transport emigrants to Quebec and lumber from there back to Great Britain.

Almost all immigrants toward the end of the 1840s had landed in New York, but between 1850 and 1865 most went by Norwegian sailing ships to Quebec and from there to the United States. Between 1854 and 1865 90 percent of all Norwegian emigrants took this route. The voyage across was long, lasting two months or more depending on weather and wind, and strenuous, with unsanitary conditions, illness, and often several deaths during the crossing.

On Steamships
On Steamships From the end of the 1860s steamships replaced sailing ships in the emigration traffic. It was a revolution that made mass emigration possible. The steamships were much faster than the sailing ships, and the steamship lines offered regular departures and arrivals, and included meals in the price of the ticket. During the fifty years after 1865, nearly 677,000 Norwegians emigrated.

Emigration waves
Norwegians crossed the Atlantic in three massive waves: 1866-1873, 1879-1893 and 1900-1914. From 1879 to 1883 an average of 21,000 people left every year. That was almost as many people as there lived in Trondhjem, Norway´s third largest city, in 1875.

European Emigration Routes
As steamships took to the seas and rail networks extended across the continent, migrants flooded out of Europe to North America. Many emigrants to North America came from the agricultural heartlandÍs of Central Europe, far from any sea. In the earlier part of the 19th century they faced a long, hard journey even before they reached their port of embarkation. They traveled on foot or by cart to river ports.

The beginnings of the railroads in the 1830s eased the journey across Europe somewhat. By the end of the century an efficient railroad network carried migrants from the agricultural regions inland to the major northern ports of Bremen, Bremerhaven, Hamburg and Liverpool, or the southern port of Naples.

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