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About Nes historical society

Nes historical society was founded by 12 members in 1996, and has grown to 315 today (Dec 31st 2015). As well as recording local history as it happens, our main focus is preservation. Of stories and myths in Nes, of local photographs (members have so far digitalised more than 16 000 historical photos), of our language and customs, and of history and traditions connected with the land and the way people used to live in the area. The society is also involved in research; we have published 4 books (see “bokutgivelser”) and participated in many more. Our goal is for history to be part of our present, and to make it accessible for modern people, whether through involvement in our work and activities, or through an increased awareness that Nes is Nes today because of what was done yesterday. You can experience our history everywhere in the municipality, when hiking on restored historical trails, when looking at photos from days gone by, when talking to someone local or even when looking at the names of people, farms or natural points of interests. The preservation of our heritage is the preservation of our identity. Through the years we have also helped a lot of people learn more about their Norwegian ancestry. We are working on getting some of the articles on the website translated to English. In the mean time you are welcome to get in touch if you have particular queries or questions regarding the area, the people or things you might see on this website.

Nes historical society is based in Nes, a small municipality in the valley of Hallingdal in the county of Buskerud. Nes has approximately 3500 inhabitants, and the town centre is called Nesbyen. Through history Nes has been an area of farming and forestry, now a days tourism becomes increasingly important. In spite of its size, Nes has an unusually rich history and much to offer for the historically minded.

Some historical highlights:

600 million b.c.: A giant meteorite falls on Garnås/Gardnos.

800s: The legend of the king Hadding, who is said to have ruled the whole valley and the surrounding area up until the king Harald Hårfagre united Norway in the late 800s.

1300s: The Black Death wipes out 80% of all the inhabitants in Nes.

1800s: Nes is the administrative centre for Hallingdal and the surrounding areas. A lot of important people live in what is now called the old town or “Gamle Nes”. Many of these beautiful and stately houses still remain and are unique for rural Norway. Nes also attracts many artists in this period, among these some of the greats in the Norwegian romantic nationalism, who immortalise Nes in their paintings.

1800s: For the locals things weren’t so easy, and in their search for a better life 2970 people emigrate from the parish of Nes/Næs (2170 from the current municipality of Nes) up until 1900, mainly to the US and Canada. The emigration continues well into the 1900s.

1909: The train track between Oslo and Bergen – “Bergensbanen” opens, one of the stations is Nesbyen. This made the area a lot more accesible, and is likely to have had a huge influence on how Nes and Hallingdal can be seen today.

1944: A British Lancaster PB416 airplane crashes in the mountainside at Syningen on their way home after having bombed the German ship Tirpitz in the North of Norway. All 11 aboard perish. After the war the remains are brought down to Nesbyen and given soldier graves at the cemetery. Every 17.th May (the Norwegian Constitution Day) the town still honours the soldiers with a special ceremony.

1970: Nesbyen has many unique climatic qualities, among these unusually high summer temperatures. In 1970 the town reaches the highest temperature recorded in Norway, 35,6 °C, a record that still stands.

1987: Nesbyen arranges the Norwegian athletics championship, a big, national event for a small town.

By Målfrid Breivik