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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.
On the farms Kjerland and Røynstrond, east of the river that flows into the fjord, we find many decorative painters who belong to the so-called sòlekistemålarane in Hardanger: Knut and Mikkjel Røynstrand and Johannes Jonsson Kjærland.