Hara island


A small island, with an area of 10-11 ha, can be found in Hara Bay. The island is largely covered in spruce forests and is a part of Lahemaa National Park. The special management zone of the island serves the purpose of ensuring the development of ecological systems solely by means of natural processes and the protec­tion of certain types of habitats, protected species and their respective habitats.


Local people proudly present the island as the birth place of spiced Tallinn sprats – as this is the very location in Estonia where sprats were first salted into tins in the 1870s under the brand name of Revelskie kilki (Tallinn or Reva I Sprats). Sprats salted on the island were delivered via Loksa harbour to St Petersburg by the sea. The first Estonian sprat industry tycoon was a scribe of Kolga Manor, Valdemar R. Sörensen, who rented the island from the manor in the 1860s and started a fish factory there. By the end of the 19th century the fish factory was operating in six buildings – two were used to receive, gut, wash and salt fish, while a tinner’s workshop and smithy were run, respectively, in the third and fourth building; the fifth building was used as spice storage facility and the sixth housed a warehouse complete with ice cellar. In the good years, Hara Island offered employment to 300-350 people, including 50 sprat salting specialists, fishermen, tinsmiths, packers, cabbies and seamen. Apart from launching a revolutionary sprat industry, Sörensen also went into dragnet fishing in bays surrounding Juminda Peninsula. This entrepreneurial man died in 1892 and his fish factory was divided among several different entrepreneurs. After Sörensen’s death, the sprat industry also went on a pause of approximately 20 years, until in 1912 the fish factory on Hara Island was bought by an Estonian Russian, Feodor Malakhov, who smoked plaice and sprats on the island and used the latter to manufacture sprats in oil. This continued until the eco­nomic crisis of 1932. By then, there were already 20 factory buildings on the island.


In 1909, a 15.2 m metal framework light beacon ( 12 m from the sea level) was erected on the island. The lighthouse was maintained by the island or lighthouse keeper. Originally the lighthouse beacon was visible at 10 nautical miles from the island. Extensive repairs on the lighthouse were carried out in 1954 and it was linked to a new, military type of harbour. The height of the buil­ding was increased to 23.7 metres and the red beacon was visible to everyone at a distance of 7 nautical miles. Little by little, the importance of the lighthouse started to decline; the equipment was dismantled at the end of the 1980s and the tower became a daytime aid for navigation. The height of the sign is 24 metres and it’s a cylinder with a red conical roof on top of a metal framework tower. It’s currently not used as an aid for navigation as it is over­grown by forest and no longer visible.


Before World War II, the island was permanently inhabited by several families. Hara Island was a popular summer vacation spot for the Baltic Germans of Tallinn – they used wooden summer cottages built on the island. There was also a two-storey boarding house. The island was connected to mainland by a woo­den causeway. A pub also once operated on the island.