Øvre and Nedre Byglandsfjord
Already in 1867 steamboat traffic started on Nedre Byglandsfjord. A group of people from Kristiansand built two steamboats, Bjoren and Dølen. The aim was to connect the inner part of the Setesdalen valley with the town.
Dølen was placed on lake Byglandsfjorden, and Bjoren on lake Kilefjorden. Passengers from Kristiansand first used Bjoren as far as possible, then went over land for 10 kilometers to Byglandsfjorden, and continued with Dølen up to Bygland. To continue further north a lock was built 1869 in Storstraumen between Øvre and Nedre Byglandsfjord (Upper and Lower). In this way Dølen could continue up to Ose, were there was an old inn for travellers.
The two sister ships continued their traffic for 30 years until Bjoren was no longer needed on Kilefjorden. A narrow gauge railway was built from Kristiansand to Byglandsfjord, where Dølen waited for passengers further north.
The owner wondered what to do with Bjoren and decided to have the ship transported up to Byglandsfjord to go into traffic there together with Dølen. Bjoren was divided into two parts and hauled up with horses. The boat was made 6 feet longer, enough to get through the lock.
Traffic increased and the owner wanted a larger ship. But first the lock had to be expanded.
In 1912 a new and larger lock was ready, but then the owners could not afford a larger ship, so the two old ones continued. Bjoren was made 10 feet longer and got a new engine with 42 horse power in 1914.
Traffic continued even if the increasing road traffic made the boat traffic less profitable. In 1931 the ships were sold to Olaf Frantsson Syrtveit, who with his sons Gunnar and Wilhelm continued traffic until 1957.
At that point Dølen had been lying as a wreck for years at Breidablikk. Bjoren was sold again, but the new owner let the ship rest unused, partly under water.
In the 1970ies the new Bjoren Steam Ship Company was founded. Several municipalities, enterprises, but most of all private persons, bought enough shares so that a renovation of Bjoren was possible. The decay was stopped, but the renovation, supervised by the State Antiquarian, took time. At long last, in May 1994, Bjoren was back in traffic on lake Byglandsfjorden, where a renovated lock was waiting for the ship.
in 1974 this pictures of the lock in Setesdal was taken. Since then the loclhas been repaired so that the steamer Bjorenwill be able to pass through.
©P icture by Jahn Børe Jahnsen
Sources: Jahn Børe Jahnsen, 2003. Ragnar Frislid, Med båt bak alle blåner.
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This page was modified at 12-08-06