Part 2. From Kinnbäck to Kåge
Let's continue on our second part of the journey. Along the E4, around fifty kilometers north of Skellefteå, you will find the northernmost coastal town of Västerbotten: Kinnbäck
In the winter, most people will pass by the village at full speed, without giving it another thought. In the summer, however, some people stop to take a boat taxi ride out to Pite-Rönnskär. External link.
Kinnbäck is an old village, first mentioned in writing as far as we know in 1554. However, a burial cairn just north of the village is a telltale sign of earlier activity in the area. Fishing was important, and a seal or two was probably caught here too before a group of farmers left their mark on the village. Today, neither fishing or agriculture are essential sectors. This is a small village with few permanent residents, but it blossoms in the summer when the summer houses along the sea are occupied.
Car dealer Kristoffer Wikberg grew up here. He says that even if Kinnbäck is geographically closer to Piteå, the residents consider Skellefteå “the city”. And despite the vicinity to the Norrbotten border, their dialect is more Västerbotten.
“But it’s an odd mix of the two dialects,” says Kristoffer, who is just one of the people who left the village but return every summer.
Our journey starts here. It will take us around the northeastern part of our municipality. A place of fishing, fast rides and ingenuity.
The fishing is a strong attraction for visitors to these parts. Some ten kilometers south of Kinnbäck, we find Åbyn, whose river is known to be one of the richest fishing waters in Sweden (https://www.skelleftea.se/default.aspx?id=13832). On its seventy-kilometer stretch through Skellefteå Municipality, the Åby river drops a whole 155 meters over some forty different rapids. The river is home to around ten different species of fish and their presence makes it one of the municipality’s most important waters for otters and other animals.
The scenery is beautiful travelling along Åby river, and there is actually a hiking trail from the coast up to Hednäs. It may be take you a couple of days to walk it, if you want to really enjoy the experience, so the car is clearly and easier option.
Speaking of cars. Just south of Hednäs, we arrive at Fällfors, where a former military airport draws attention. In 2008, the Drive Center Arena (https://drivecenter.se) opened here and since then, it offers a number of training programs in most things on wheels. Already from the start, the then owner Bengt Astergren was already dreaming of creating Sweden’s northernmost racetrack. Bengt passed away in 2017, but his dream lived on and in the summer of 2019, it came true. That year, the entire racing elite entered Midnattssolsloppet (the midnight run) at Scandinavia’s longest racetrack (4.2 kilometers) here in Fällfors.
For Fällfors, which much like many other villages in the area has been wasting away, this could mark a strong turnaround point. The motorsports enthusiasm in the country is evidently large, and the question is whether racing won’t attract more visitors than fishing in the future.
Which brings us to our next destination: Byske river. On the way from Arvidsjaur Municipality, it passes Fällfors leading out to the sea by Byske. Speaking of Fällfors. The location was of course named after a river (fors in Swedish) and when you see it, you will understand why. There are plenty of majestic views along Byske river, which stretches 100 kilometers in Skellefteå Municipality alone, and with a drop of 295 meters.
The unruly Byske river is a unique river running through the forest, which offers everything from calm to rapids. The main attraction is the wild salmon, which has hardly escaped anyone who passed the E4 bridge and the giant wooden salmon statue. But trout and grayling are also commonly occurring species in these fine fishing waters.
Byske is located thirty kilometers north of Skellefteå, and for people less interested in fishing, this location is probably more appreciated for its five-star seaside resort (http://visitskelleftea.se/boenden/byske-havsbad/). However, Skellefteå offers many sea and lakeside bathing sites that are well worth a visit. These are the official municipal bathing sites External link. and here are a few more External link. – just pick and choose.
The actual village of Byske has most of the things you need and a stable population of just under 2,000 residents. In addition to stores, restaurants, schools and health centers, there is also the Byske confectionery factory, which was opened in 1906, making it one of Sweden’s oldest confectionery company.
The village is also home to fan manufacturer Futurum, which was founded in 1952 and is now owned by Franke, which has placed a large proportion of its production in Byske.
The Bergmark brothers, who started Futurum, are far from the only innovators in these parts. Skellefteå is known to have generated a lot of inventions. Not least within the industrial sector, with lift manufacturer Alimak being one of the better known examples. Its deeply religious founder Alvar Lindmark was supposedly inspired by the Biblical story of Jacob’s Ladder when he constructed his lifting devices.
Some ten kilometers west of Byske is Storkågeträsk, where Severin Kågström started making tipper bodies for tractors around 70 years ago. With time, the operation grew to include all kinds of additions for transport vehicles, and today, Sekå is a thriving company whose logo you will see along the roadside all over Sweden.
A more recent “innovation” originated in Storkågeträsk’s neighboring village of Södra Svedjan. Here, the dairy farmers Johanna and Pär Hellström have become famous for their cheeses. As a matter of fact, Svedjanost’s award-winning varieties External link. made it all the way to the Nobel Banquet the other year, and competes with Västerbottensost for the title of tastiest cheese from the Skellefteå region. But why choose one, when they go so well together?
Kåge – Hedvig stad
Another charming village along the E4 is Kåge. It used to be called Storkåge and has been known since 1505, when the widow Gunborg from Stockholm sold the land to a certain Dean Andreas in Skellefteå.
In 1543, there were all of eleven homesteads in Kåge and by the mid-17th century, there were even plans to found a new town at the marketplace in Storkåge. With this proposal, the town would be renamed Hedvigstad after dowager queen Hedvig Eleonora. However, the townspeople of Piteå were strongly opposed to the proposal, and following long discussions, it was decided to move the town to Häggholmen – an island in Piteå River where Piteå city center lies today.
In the 1830s, the question was brought up again, when surveyor Johan Håkansson was commissioned to draw up a detailed plan of the new town. The map and detailed plan have been preserved, dated July 1841. Kåge was considered to have a good harbor and was therefore an excellent site of a new town, but the priest Nils Nordlander in Skellefteå had other plans and threw a spanner in the works. He insisted that the center needed to be near the church. He therefore proposed the village of Norrböle as the site of the new town instead, which was approved and led to the Skellefteå becoming that town in 1845. In other words, both Piteå and Skellefteå could have been located in Kåge instead.
A bit of a letdown for Kåge perhaps. But in actual fact, Kåge is doing fine. Since the 1960s, the population has grown by a whooping 310% from 766 residents to 2,376 in 2015. Kåge keeps on growing, and the town has everything from a supermarket and health center to tempered outdoor baths and a gym. If you add major employers like Kågesågen, Nordtek and PTC Plastcisterner, it is easy to understand why Kåge is an attractive location for families with children.
If you decide to go through Kåge, you will pass by the magnificent Kåge church. With its historic church spire, it looks like it belongs in Saint Petersburg rather than this small town outside of Skellefteå. Construction of the church began in 1924 and was largely carried out by volunteers. The church was completed at start of 1926, at a measly cost of SEK 110,000
If you continue your journey heading out of Kåge towards Skellefteå, you will encounter a picturesque marina where Kåge boating club has its facilities. Also found in this area is the closed down fish fermentation plant of Prima Kåge-Surströmming. The plant was operational until the 1960s and was recently remade into a cozy harbor café. The smell of fermented fish is long gone, but its history lives on in the decor. The cafe serves everything from smoked shrimp to waffles, homemade baked goods and ice-cream. The perfect pit stop for anyone who wants to get a bite to eat in a beautiful and comfortable environment. It is well worth a visit if you’re already in the neighborhood!