Can an Entire Town be Relocated?

Quck answer

Moving an entire town is a complex and challenging task, but it is possible. There have been several cases where towns have been relocated due to various reasons such as natural disasters, urban development, or environmental concerns. The process involves careful planning, coordination, and significant financial resources. It includes moving buildings, infrastructure, and utilities to a new location. The community’s involvement and support are crucial for the success of such a project. While moving a town is not a common occurrence, it can be done with proper planning and execution.


Have you resided in the same residence in the same town for your entire life? Or have you relocated at least once in your life, whether it’s within the same town or to another city or state?

If you have ever been involved in a relocation, you understand that it can be a challenging and stressful period. You have to pack up all your belongings, bid farewell to close friends, and then start anew in a new area.

As difficult as it may be for one family to move from one house to another, can you imagine how challenging it would be to relocate an entire town? While the concept of relocating an entire town may seem absurd, that is exactly what the inhabitants of Kiruna, Sweden are currently facing.

Kiruna, the northernmost city in Sweden, is located within the Arctic Circle and is home to approximately 18,000 residents. It is situated on a hill above Europe’s largest iron ore mine, which has been in operation for over a century.

The mine was the catalyst for the establishment of Kiruna, but now it is also the reason for the city’s relocation. As the mine continues to expand, iron ore is now being extracted from beneath the city’s foundations.

Due to a process known as ground deformation, the ground beneath the city is gradually sinking. Cracks have already appeared on the surface in certain parts of the city.

Fearing that significant portions of the city will collapse in the next few decades, Luossavaara-Kiirunavaara AB (LKAB), the state-owned company that operates the mine, has pledged over a billion dollars to relocate the city of Kiruna and its residents approximately two miles further east in the coming decades.

The relocation is already underway and will occur in stages. Those in the areas of Kiruna closest to the mine will be relocated first. While most homes and buildings will be demolished and reconstructed in the new town (dubbed New Kiruna), nearly twenty historic buildings are being transported to their new locations using specialized equipment.

The gradual and incremental nature of the relocation has earned Kiruna a new nickname: “millipede town.” People perceive the relocation as a slow process involving hundreds of individuals and buildings gradually moving a couple of miles east.

Once the relocation is complete, LKAB plans to transform the abandoned areas of Kiruna into recreational parks. In preparation for the eventual closure of the mine, the city is also striving to boost its tourism industry. Given its location, the city boasts breathtaking scenery and is an ideal place to witness the Aurora Borealis.

As strange as it may seem for an entire city to be relocated, it is not the first time such a phenomenon has occurred. In the past, other cities have been relocated for various reasons. For instance, the town of Hibbing, Minnesota, was relocated over two miles in 1919 to make way for an iron ore mine.

The town of Vidalia, Louisiana, was relocated in 1938 to avoid future flooding from the Mississippi River, which caused significant damage to the town during the 1927 flood. In the late 1960s, the town of Valdez, Alaska, was relocated several miles inland after it was discovered that the town was built on unstable ground following an earthquake and tsunami that wiped out the town’s waterfront.

Sometimes, construction projects can cause issues that require towns to be relocated. For instance, when large dams are built, they may flood the areas where existing towns are located. The cities of Hill Village, New Hampshire, and Tallangatta, Australia, had to be moved due to the construction or expansion of dam projects.

In the 1990s, the residents of Minor Lane Heights, Kentucky, reached an agreement with a newly constructed airport. The residents were concerned about the noise from the airport, so the airport agreed to purchase the entire town and relocate its residents to a newly built town called Heritage Creek, which was five miles away.

Try It Out

Are you interested in relocating an entire town? Make sure to explore the following activities with a friend or family member:

– How would you feel if one day you were informed that you had to leave the home you’ve lived in your entire life? Would it make it easier if you were offered payment for your house, allowing you to buy another one just a few miles away? How do you think the people of Kiruna feel about their entire town being moved?

– In the past, underground mining and natural disasters were obvious causes for towns to be relocated. What types of events do you think could potentially cause towns to be relocated in the future? Can you anticipate any major changes happening around the world that might necessitate the relocation of towns in certain areas?

– What about the town you currently reside in? Are there any potential dangers in your area that could require your town to be relocated one day? Most kids don’t have to worry about their towns being relocated, but let’s pretend for a few minutes that your town does have to move. What problems do you foresee with such a move? Where do you think it could be relocated to? What are some of the practical difficulties that people in your town would face?

Wonder Sources

– https://www.nytimes.com/2016/05/21/world/europe/kiruna-sweden-move-arctic-circle.html

– https://www.cnn.com/style/article/sweden-kiruna-relocation/index.html

– https://gizmodo.com/moving-mountains-six-cities-and-towns-that-were-comple-1436927345

– https://www.volvoce.com/global/en/spirit-magazine/moving-the-city-of-kiruna/5-cities-that-have-been-moved/

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