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In the steep hillside in Hjølmodalen, a small side valley from Øvre Eidfjord (Upper Eidfjord), which has been a key entrance to the Hardanger Plateau, the hamlet of old farmhouses still lie clustered together. The yard is empty today, some of the houses are used in the summer, but the grass grows round all the corners.
High up above the fjord, at a height of 600m lie the two holdings at Kjeåsen. Today you can drive there by car, through a new tunnel that the power engineers in Sima have drilled. Until 1974 the only road went up the steep hillside, along iron bolted ladders across dizzying rocks – a road for the strong at heart.
Måbø is the uppermost farm in Måbødalen. This narrow and steep mountain valley has been one of the routes from the fjord communities up to the mountain plateau from times immemorial. We are not certain of the meaning of the name Måbø. Perhaps it has its origin in an Old Norse male name Mávi, from the name for seagull, már. The last syllable “bø” means farm. Today Måbø gives us a compact close-up of the subsistence economy: the small farm with the clearance piles, stone walls and a lane that guided the animals into the yard, at the foot of the great mountain expanse.
In 1923 Bergenshalvøens Kommunale Kraftselskap (BKK) expropriated large areas for power plants and development of hydropower started soon afterwards. Dale power station with the two first aggregates, each of 14 MW was put into operation on 17 November 1927. In the supply reservoir in Storefossen 5152 cubic metres of concrete were cast, and a modern and well-equipped power station was built.
Water discharge at the outlet of the Ekso into Eidsfjord was halved after the big hydropower development in the mountainous area between Modalen and Eksingedalen and further southward toward Evanger in the 1960s, 70s and 80s. In an attempt to amend the changed environmental conditions in the waterway the developer built 35 small dams in the river.
From written sources we know that the farm Gullbrå was in use early in the 1600s. The Apostolic church in Bergen owned land here that it rented out, but even early in the 1600s some of the land was in private ownership. Eksingedalen then belonged to Modalen parish, which was under Hamre parish. In 1723 the Apostolic church still had properties here, and Ivar and Lars were farmers.
The old stone church at Eidfjord has an open position on the terrace at Lægreid. In a diploma from 1310 it transpires that Torgeir on Sponheim donated a gift for the erection of the church in Eidfjord. Thus we can assume that the church was under construction at the time. The elements in the style confirm such a dating.