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On the limit

The hard work constructing the hydropower facilities sometimes led to dangerous situations.


Report from May 19th 1913: 

O.Tveito from E.B. was badly burned and died in Bergen. From Tyssefaldene’s accident report:

“On the 15th this month at 2 o’clock a very regrettable accident happened in the new instrumentation, where one of Elektrisk Bureau’s workers O. Tveito was badly burned and has on the 16th this month passed away at Bergen hospital”. As a consequence of a misunderstanding between the workers, one of which was English speaking, one generator was still live when O. Tveito came back from dinner to continue work. “At 2 E.B.’s people returned from dinner and Tveito had no idea that the power was on all the way down to generator 2’s reactance coils. He must have short circuited two phases with a file he had in his hand, whereby the light arch burned him terribly. He sat in such a position that he could not run away. The injured man was immediately bandaged by Dr Kvam who had good hope that he would live. He was immediately sent at 7.30 to Bergen and arrived there at 7 the next morning. A hospital cart and medical treatment had been ordered in advance, but unfortunately the cart did not arrive at the boat until closer to 9. Tveito died shortly after he arrived at the hospital.”


Frå anleggstida i Tyssedal A generator in the powerstation in 1949. Photo: Kraftmuseet archives






Report from the 13th of January 1916:

On the 6th of January the Swede Olufson fell from breakpoint 3 to breakpoint 5. He was found dead with his head smashed and some other injuries. He was attempting to get out of the funicular to empty concrete unto the platform. For some reason he let go of his hold and fell directly off the precipice. 


Frå anleggstida i Tyssedal The mountainside was steep and difficult to process. Photo: Kraftmuseet archives




Transport av røyr til Skjeggedal i 1913

Transportation af pipes to Skjeggedal. Photo: Kraftmuseet archives






Before the car road to Skjeggedal was completed in 1931, all transportation to the hydropower tunnels and dams were carried out using a motorized funicular, or by horse along the old tourist road on the south side of the valley. In 1928-31, when a concrete plate had to be added to the Ringedal Dam to stop leakage, tons of reinforcement bars had to be brought up.  Theodor Holm did transportation by horse. He and his brother Harald Nygård had a 3 year transportation contract. The stretch from Tyssedal to the dam is 7-8 kilometres and the difference in altitude is around 400 metres.

Stone slides and snow made the road dangerous, but what created the biggest obstacles was ice. In the damp mountains tons of ice formed, which fell in mild weather. One problem was being hit; another was that the horses could spook, that in itself could spell disaster. Ice could also make sections of the road extremely difficult to travel. Using axes the men carved steps for themselves and the horses, and they used ropes and pulleys to keep the sleigh in place. If this failed, or they miscalculated both horse and sleigh could be lost.


Arbeidslag og hestetransport i 1924 Navvies carving out stones, using horses for transport. Photo: Kraftmuseet archives



A/S Tyssefaldene had several horses. In addition other horse owners in the district hired out their horses. Until 1914 all material for the plant in Skjeggedal had to be transported up Sjoarvegen. Then a ropeway took over most of the transportation. The ropeway could only carry up to 300 kilos; heavier loads still had to be brought by horse. Particularly heavy loads were transported by several horses, the heavier the load, the more horses, so the draws could be quite long.

(From the book "Dei Finaste Band" by Torkel Stana)





The year I was there between 400 and 450 men stayed up there. I did my work in the scree. It was hard work, and often dangerous. I can still remember one of the accidents: it happened one Sunday morning. An overhang which had developed in the scree had to be removed, something which happened often. It was dangerous work as it tended to be just pebbles that held the thing together. This Sunday morning it was a Swedish blasting boss and another fellow who were going to take down such an overhang; and the Swede was a little reckless – he walked over and hit the rocks with an iron stick. The other man asked him not to because he could so easily set the thing off. But the Swede did not listen. And then that was just what happened, and the two men got the entire overhang on top of them. The Swede was killed outright, the other barely made it. It was the only fatal accident that happened at the plant while I was there. There were several other accidents with broken bones and the like. Anything else could hardly be expected from such a workplace.

(From ”Odda i Manns Minne” number19, 2010)


Rallarar på anleggsarbeid på Ringedalsdammen kring 1910 Navvies at work on the Ringedal damm around 1910. Photo: Kraftmuseet archives





Many teams worked on the penstocks, and to make sure they didn’t blast each other to death, we instituted fixed times for blasting. The bottom team blasted off at the set time, and then the other teams set off their charges 5 minutes apart one by one up the mountain. It was an almost frightening terrain to work in, but fortunately we made it through the entire construction period with just one accident – a man broke his thigh bone. A crowbar slipped. That might just as easily have happened on flat ground.

Brink was construction manager for the first plants in Tyssedal.


Utbygginga av Tysso I

Granite rocks eventually transforming into a hydropower station. Photo: Kraftmuseet archives




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The industrial history of Odda


Norwegian Museum of Hydropower and Industry

Naustbakken 7, 5770 Tyssedal
Phone: +47 53 65 00 50