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The oldest traces of iron mines and quarries in Western Telemark are from the first centuries of our Current Era. During the migration period, approximately 400-600 A.D, a number of farms were established. The burial moulds in Fyresdal are from this period. After some time the people learned how to make steel that had to be sharpened, and the sale of whetstone from the quarry in Eidsborg started around the 700s. This was the first product of our export and became a part of the North Sea trade route.
The varied geology offered several advantages. When the Danish king in 1539 issued German mine workers to start mining in Norway, it was to Western Telemark they went. Copper mines are found in several places, but at Aamdals Verk Mines you can visit actual mines and learn about the operation that took place there from 1691-1945.
The Telemark waterway was the main route out for the export goods.
From the 1600’s, timber was also considered valuable and thus lumbering became an important industry. From Western Telemark there was a current of whetstone, ore, timber, and also butter, meats and fish. This was grazing land as well as hunting grounds.
The transport and trade connect connected this part of Telemark to the rest of the world. This provided work and influence from abroad.
The building of the canal started in 1861, and from 1892, it was possible to sail directly to the sea. A new era had begun for tourism, industry, and trade. The canal became the main connecting road between the eastern and western part of Norway.