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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.
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.
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.
As early as 1906 the Matre and Haugsdal waterway was bought up by the businessman Blauuw from Bergen; the first “waterfall speculator” in the Matre area. He immediately resold it to Fr. Hiorth, who transferred all the rights to the company Matrefaldene in 1908. Behind A/S Matrefaldene were German interests, Badische Anilin und Sodafabrik, which wanted to start production of saltpetre fertilizer with nitrogen and electricity.
Valestrand became a centre for the tanning industry in Osterøy; one of the old crafts that has developed into a local industry with many places of work. From the 1870s ever more ventures were started. Many of the large sea houses we see today around the bay have been places for tanning and leather enterprises.
The first finds of pyrite at Litlabø in Stord came to light in 1864. Forty years later sulphuric ore was mined from an open mine. From 1874 to 1880 it was used for dynamite production. That came to a sudden end when the factory exploded and three people died.
If you enter the farmyard at Rekve, some kilometres from Bulken, where the road departs to Giljarhus, you no longer meet “the miller”, Knut Hernes, in his old rural mill. But some years ago he would wish you welcome, friendly and hospitable, and show you around his mill, which had been his workplace for a generation. As light-footed as a youth he climbed in steep ladders high up into the waterfall, to let the water down on to the waterwheel.
Fyksesundet and Botnagrenda present a fine experience of the landscape and cultural history; a geographically isolated local settlement with extensive cultural contact with the outside world.
Today Tyssedal appears like a classical industrial community, a picture of modern Norway from the turn of the former century until today. A/S Tyssefaldene was established in 1906, and on 1 May 1908 Tyssedal power station was put into operation. The work on the first stage of the facility was completed in a short time, with a work force of 500 men. They built water tunnels, regulation reservoirs, power station, penstocks, harbour, cableways, office buildings, houses and 6 km of power lines in the wild mountains above Odda to provide the new melting plant with power.