Friday, May 16, 2014

Leirdal, Norway

Ron here with part 2 of the Norway trip posts.
After I left Leinoy I went inland to meet some other cousins, Asborg and her husband Palmer. They live in Guapne, just down the hill from Leirdal.

Leirdal is the village where my great-grandfather Kristen Nitter Larson came from. The village is really just a small collection of homes. There are no stores, schools, or anything else. It sits in a narrow valley under a tall cliff, just south of the Jostedalsbreen Glacier. The valley was carved from a river from the melting glacier. In the 1950's a dam was built just west of Leirdal, creating a lake that feeds a hydroelectic generator. It is part of Norway's hydroelectric industry, which Palmer work for. More about that in a later post.
Modern Leirdal with the dam and lake.
Kristen Larson's family owned, and still owns, a farmstead in Leirdal. It is currently owned by Britta Leirdal. The farm house where Kristen grew up is still there. It is the same house where Britta grew up. Her father lived there until his death a few years ago. Besides the farmstead, she also owns a lot of the land below the dam.

Before the dam and lake were built, the valley wrapped around to the north towards the glacier. The family were not farmers. They raised livestock to sell. They would graze them in the meadows at higher altitude. In fact, there is an old summer shack further up the mountain that they used to live in during grazing season.

I was told that during WWII, they grew some oats at the farm. But it is far too cold, small, and rocky to be crop farmers in Leirdal. At the farm you can feel the chilled air blowing off the snow on the mountains that surround it. I can't imagine how cold it gets in the dead of winter there.

I met Asborg and Palmer at their house in Guapne, and we drove up to the farm in Leirdal. Brita has a newer house next to the old farm.

There is a steep narrow road up to the farm.
The barn, with the old farm house behind (yellow) 
The old farm house (yellow) and the Brita's new house next door.
Above the farm is it snow capped mountains, and behind them the glacier. Grandma Larson and her sister(s) came to visit here in the 1950's. That was before the road up the mountain was paved. So they took off their fine shoes and hiked all the way up to Leirdal.

And then you arrive at the farm.

 There is the barn, the old farm house, and newer house next door where Britta lives.
The old farm house has no indoor plumbing. It only got electricity in the 1950's.

The old farm house
Britta, Asborg, and Palmer

Inside the house, it felt like a museum.
The house used to be a little further down the hill. And they added about 5 feet to the front of the house, which give it a small foyer and kitchen are now. Before you used to have to cook outside.

Here is a video of a nice painting of the farm.

More next week!