Norway - Vrang waterfall
( Originally Published 1907 )
Direction—We are facing north-northwest. Surroundings—Hitterdal Church and Tinoset are ahead of us and off at our right, twenty to thirty miles away. Mount Gausta that we saw from the Maan valley (Position 19), is something over fifty miles away, beyond that horizon straight ahead.
Passengers on the boats almost always land as we have done and walk about during the time a vessel is making her way up or down the hill. The engineering here is exceptionally interesting because of the unusual lift (80 feet), requiring, as we see, five successive locks. First, water was let through from that first lock into the basin at our feet, equalizing their level, the boat passed in and the gates were shut be-hind her. Then water was let from the second lock down into the first, equalizing those two levels ; at this moment the gates have been opened and the boat is steaming into the second lock, to be ready for the third up-lockage. It will take half or three-quarters of an hour longer, so there is plenty of time to explore that gleaming path, which zigzags up the steep side-hill at the left or to go up to the bridge and look off over the boiling tumult of the faIIs. We could cross the canal by a narrow footpath over any one of those gates. The children who live in this neighborhood are usually on the lookout for travelers, and offer delicious berries for sale in birch-bark baskets —sweet, wild strawberries in their season, raspberries, blueberries—a number of small fruits practically the same that Americans find at home. Five or ten ore (i. e., two or three cents) make the little vendors feel prosperous and happy.
The boats that go through here start from Skien, a seaport off behind us on the south coast of Norway, and they bring up a good deal of miscellaneous freight just as a slow local railway train might do if there were any railways hereabouts. (There is a railway connecting Skien with Christiania, 125 miles away at our right.) The deck of the boat over there now is probably crowded with wares ordered by farmers and country shopkeepers—barrels of sugar, casks of molasses and syrup, bags of coffee, rolls of cotton cloth, boxes of ribbons and gay-colored kerchiefs, crates of window-glass perhaps, some iron stoves in readiness for the chilly weather of early fall, oil lamps and oil wherewith to fill them—such things take up a deal of room in a small boat and passengers are some-times uncomfortably crowded. The return freight is likely to include a considerable amount of dairy produce. There are some copper mines up above here, worked by English capital.
That house up at the head of the locks is conspicuously fine with its trimmings and window-casings painted white, just as they might be on a town street. Dwelling houses hereabouts are oftener quite unpainted, unless, perhaps, the roof may be given a coat of red for the sake of protecting the wood from the weather.
In Goodman's book called The Best Tour in Nor-way, the author speaks of making a journey by boat over this route and seeing the falls during the wait for up-lockage.
After one reaches the end of this water journey near Dalen, seventy miles up in the interior of the country, horses and post-boys once more become the indispensable means of getting across to the western fjords. Distances here in southern Norway do not look very great on a map ; indeed, the air-line distance all the way from Christiania across to Bergen is less than two hundred miles. American railway trains cover the same space, e. g., between New York and Providence, R.I,, in four hours. Here, where there are no railways,* the roads have to climb up and up steep hills, then creep down again, only to climb once more. No wonder the ponies, despite their pluck and endurance, take several days, instead of a few hours, to carry a traveler and his luggage over to the Atlantic side of the land.
Perhaps you would like to see how it looks at a typical, average posting station along this route. Such a spot is marked on Map 2 with a red 25, about mid-way between Kongsberg and the western fjords. The shortness of the red lines indicates that we are to have no extensive outlook—we shall presently see why.