According to the Norwegian writer, Frode Grytten, who was born and grew up in Odda: “The valley seems to have been created by a gigantic blow with a sledgehammer”. As early as the 19th century waterfalls, glaciers and dramatic mountain landscapes attracted countless tourists to the region around Odda and Tyssedal. Between 1906 and 1918, the Tysso I hydraulic power station – one of the largest high-pressure power stations in the world at the time – was constructed here in the midst of an unspoilt landscape on the bank of the deep blue Sørfjord. After the power station shut down, it has been completely renovated and integrated into the Kraftmuseet (Norwegian Museum of Hydropower and Industry). The monumental architecture highlights the highly developed aesthetic taste of the architects who built it. Inside the long turnine hall, whose solemn bay windows look out over the fjord, the most prominent of the buildings is the former control centre with its marble panels and Bakelite switches. A trip to the nearby Ringedal reservoir in Skjeggedal gives visitors a clear impression of the size of the hydraulic site, consisting of the dam, distribution basins and pressure pipelines. A hike up to the famous Trolltunga is only one of the huge number of hiking opportunities that the Hardangervidda Nationalpark offers.
One of the most prominent tourists to travel to the then distant tip of the Sør fjord was Kaiser Wilhelm II. Around 1900 there were 10 hotels alone in Odda, including the largest hotel in Norway. The stream of visitors began to dry up in 1908 after the completion of a carbide and cyanamide factory turned Odda into a centre for heavy industry. At the same time the Tysso I hydraulic power station was constructed in the Tysse valley, 3 kilometres to the north, in order to ensure the necessary power supplies. This simultaneous development is typical for Norway whose economic growth has been almost exclusively dependent on a surplus of water. In 1906 the country could boast of no fewer than 757 hydraulic power stations. This source of energy was so attractive that it drew industrialists to follow it even to the most distant geographical sites. Tyssedal is one of the earliest examples. Within a few years the population in the town exploded from a mere 30 to no less than 1000 inhabitants. The power station only closed down in 1989.
Today’s museum is situated in the old administrative building of the Tyssefaldene company. The building dates back to 1914 and also housed public institutions like a bank, a post office and the telegraph station. The cellars contained the local police cells: for the Tyssefaldene police were responsible for law and order in the region until 1915. This and many more features are brought vividly back to life by the exhibitions and multimedia programmes in the museum. They take visitors back into the life of blue and white-collar workers, a housewife and a child at the time. The high point of the tour is a visit to the old hydraulic power station directly overlooking the Sør fjord. The engine house takes up the largest part of the 180 metre long building whose row of turbines were once considered to be the peak of technological development.
Even today Norwegians possess the best knowledge in the world regarding the construction of hydraulic power stations in mountainous regions, and this knowledge is twinned with an ever increasing sense of responsibility for managing the environment. This is why the five remaining waterfalls in the Odda Valley have long been under protection orders.
|Recommended duration of visit:||2 Hours|
|Duration of a guided tour:||120 Minutes|
|Access for persons with disabilities:||Available|
|Infrastructure for children:|
|Visitor centre on site:||yes|
|Gift and book shop on site:||yes|
Middle of May to middle of September:
Middle of September to middle of May:
Monday - Friday 10am-3pm