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Already at the beginning of the 1870s demands were made that there had to be a railway connection between Bergen and East Norway. The first section between Bergen and Voss was finished in 1883. The route alternatives further on were many: Lærdal-Valdres, Aurland-Geiteryggen, Raundalen-Finse and Ulvik-Finse. Following a long dispute, an agreement was finally reached that the middle route alternative, Raundalen- Myrdal- Finse, was the best alternative. In 1894 the government passed a resolution that the Bergen railway should be built, but only the section Voss-Taugevatn. This was a political gamble in order to make the rest of the country participate in the plans. In 1898 it was approved that the railway be continued eastwards from Taugevatn to Oslo. This high mountain project was one of the most challenging railway projects in Europe. The Bergen railway was to be built across a mountain plateau without roads.
Opponents of the Bergen Railway used the snow argument for all it was worth. During the debate in Parliament before the decision about the route was reached in 1894, fears of snowfalls of over 20 metres were presented.
Many mountain plants are well prepared to face cold and wind. Some would surely rather face an easier life in the lowlands, but they cannot compete with the higher-growing plants living there. Most mountain plants manage to compete for light and space only if they cling to the bedrock and gravel in the harsh high alpine climate.
The farm Frøystein by the Ulvik fjord is commonly called Fryste. In 1614 the name was written Frøstemb – an obvious Danish influence – and the form Frøsten was used up until the land register in 1886 and 1907. It is probable that the name of the farm originally was Frystvin; a vin-name. Thus it has no connection with neither Frøy (Norse fertility god) nor stein (stone).
HOLMEN AND THE KØLLE FAMILY Holmen lies by the fjord, innermost in Ulvikpollen. Originally this was a small smallholding or coast dweller’s place belonging to the farm Håheim. Major Johan Henrik Palludan obtained leasehold for a part of Holmen in 1773, and erected a grand house, as he was the head of Nordre Hardangerske kompani. In 1806 Mrs Palludin sold Holmen to the somewhat eccentric theologian Kristian Kølle, and thus the Kølle family came to Ulvik. Today the Kølle house in Holmen is gone, today it is the residence of the principal of the State horticultural school that occupies the ground – a villa in the dragon style from the turn of the previous century.
Freezing and thawing are processes that influence plant cover, move enormous blocks, stretche long mounds of earth, break open bedrock and create patterns in stone and earth.
It must have taken a long time for the snails of Finse to make it to the mountains; six species have been found as high as 1470 m a.s.l. For the snail species with an outer shell, it is perhaps not the mountain climate that is the biggest problem. It is probably worse to find a place with enough calcium in the soil to make their shells.
At the bottom of the Osa fjord there is a cultural landscape marked by great contrasts; the wide terraces and the river delta at the fjord contrast with the steep hillsides in the background, where Norddalen leads up to the mountain. There are two farms here. Osa and Sævartveit – the farm at the river mouth and the hollow by the sea.