Norwegian town places mirrors on hillsides to shine light into valley


People gather on a spot in front of the town hall of Rjukan, Norway where sunshine is reflected by three giant mirrors erected on the mountainside above the town (AP Photo)

A town in Norway has placed giant mirrors on top of the hills surrounding it, to beam light into the valley in the dark winter months.

Rjukan, a town of 3,500 people situated 100 miles west of Oslo, is encircled by steep forested hillsides and cut off from direct sunlight for six months of the year.

The authorities therefore decided to put three mirrors on top of the hills which have been positioned to reflect a 6,500-square-foot patch of light onto the town square.

“We think it will mean more activities in town, especially in autumn and wintertime,” said Karin Roe, head of the town’s tourist office. “People will be out more.”

The mirrors are controlled by a computer to follow the path of the sun, adjusting to the best angle to catch the rays and reflect them onto the centre of the town.

The idea was first floated 100 years ago by Sam Eyde, an industrialist and the town’s founder, but was only made possible with modern technology.

In 1928 his successor built a cable car to the top of the nearby mountain so that residents could appreciate some sunlight.

But it wasn’t until this year that the scheme was completed, with helicopters hoisting the mirrors 1,500ft above the town to launch the 5 million krone ($924,660) scheme.

Watch a video:

New owner of Wyoming town hoping to make ‘Buford PhinDeli Town’ a hub for coffee

Vietnamese Coffee Town

Vietnamese businessman Pham Dinh Nguyen, left, and the former Buford owner Dom Sammons, right

Located 28 miles west of Cheyenne off Interstate 80, the town of Buford, Wyooming, was redubbed Buford PhinDeli Town.

The name change came courtesy of the town’s new owner, Vietnamese businessman Pham Dinh Nguyen. He bought Buford in April 2012 from longtime owner Don Sammons. Nguyen got the town, including its sole business, Buford Trading Post, for $900,000 at auction.

The coffee importer was intrigued when he learned that the town – billed as the smallest in the US with just one resident – was being auctioned off .

Owner Don Sammons – the one resident – had turned it into something of a tourist attraction on Highway 80, a place where travelers could buy gas, snacks and other road essentials.

But Sammons decided to sell the tiny burg, and Nguyen traveled from Asia to Wyoming to bid at the auction after reading about the sale on the Internet.

The businessman said he had always hoped to expand his coffee business to the US, and hopes people will sample his PhinDeli brand of java when they pass through Buford.

“Everybody has a dream,” he said a video promoting PhinDeli coffee. “So do I. I have an American dream. [But] this is more than that — this the most famous town in the world: the smallest US town.”

image1134bThe name “PhinDeli” roughly translates to “delicious filter coffee,” reflecting the style of coffee Nguyen hopes to sell there. “Phin” means filter, and “deli” is short for delicious.

Vietnam is the world’s second-largest coffee producing country and its dark, strong coffee is usually brewed using a small metal French filter.

In the most popular recipe, the filter brews the coffee directly into a cup of sweetened condensed milk, which is then stirred and poured over ice. The recipe is known in Vietnam as “ca phe da,” literally “ice coffee.”

One issue when the Nguyen purchased the town was finding someone with the proper licensing to continue running Buford Trading Post’s fuel pumps.

Rosie Weston of Al-Rose Auction & Realty of Cheyenne has been Nguyen’s effective person on the ground in Buford since he bought it 16 months ago.

“It was a year-long task to try to find someone who could do it,” Weston said. “So somehow or another they got in contact again with (Sammons–the previous owner of the town).”

Buford Trading Post is open and being run by Sammons, who will remain the general manager with a staff of two employees.

In addition to the coverage it has been getting in the U.S., Bates said the Buford purchase has been making waves in Nguyen’s home country as well.

One report published Aug. 1 at the website TalkVietnam includes an interview with Nguyen in which he expressed his interest in breaking into the U.S. coffee scene.

“I only took three days to decide to purchase the town, but my plan of renaming it was hatching for a long time, eight months,” Nguyen told the website. “I hope that the appearance of filter coffee with Vietnamese taste and flavor in Phin Deli (sic) town is a message to affirm the position of Vietnam’s coffee on the world map.”

Another article, published Aug. 2 on the Thanh Nien News website, said Nguyen also hopes to sell his coffee online via and eventually “will try to have them on shelves at some supermarkets.”

According to the trademark search engine Trademarkia, PhinDeli Joint Stock Company is based in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam. It filed an application for a U.S. service mark on July 3.

Founded in 1866, Buford was originally named for John Buford Jr., a Union cavalry officer during the Civil War. Buford served a key role at the Battle of Gettysburg in July 1863, and died of illness in December of the same year.

Watch a video:

From London’s Daily Telegraph and Wyoming Tribune-Eagle