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Alvøen is one of the oldest industrial places in Norway. As early as the 1620s a gunpowder mill was built here. The place itself was well situated for industrial activity, lying only 100 m from the waterfall, which provided power for the mill, and a good harbour wherefrom the products were shipped. The success of the gun-powder mill varied in the 1600s and 1700s, but what made Alvøen best known was its paper production.
Down by the fjord on the farm Berge in Tørvikbygd, is Stekkavika – a sheltered eastward facing harbour, protected against the fjord by headlands and rocks, even manifest in the name. Here is also a comprehensive milieu of coastal industry, with boathouses and sea-sheds that belong to the farms Berge, Heradstveit and Halleråker. Belonging to the farm Berge there is also a mill-house, circular saw, workshop for sloop building, and – a little further up into the woods – the old water-powered sash-saw.
The industrial settlement Bjørsvik
Having passed well over the bridge across to Sotra you pass an industrial plant surrounded by a budding community; the mineral mill of A/S Norwegian Talc. Some of the buildings seem to have been erected in the early part of the 20th century. They are remnants of a grand industrial plant from the former boom time in the country – the economic upswing after WWI.
Around Mjøsvågen here is still a compact marine use area. Some of the buildings are common boathouses, but most of them also house small enterprises and workshops. This is where the farmers from Øvsthus, Mjøs, Hole and other farms have supplemented their meagre incomes as smiths, brass moulders, clog makers, chest builders and decorative painters.
In 1908 the new power station in Tyssedal was completed. A/S Tyssefaldene provided power for the carbide and cyanide factory that was built in Odda. This signalled a new era.
In 1852 Haktor Thorsen erected two large warehouses on one of his farms in Sunde and started trading and salting herring. This was the start of an industrial adventure that made Sunde into one of the first industrial communities in Kvinnherad.