The roadless village of Flørli in the Lysefjord constitutes a complete power plant community on a small and manageable scale, with several attractions. The power station and the Flørli stairs have become popular tourist attractions. From the fjord, 4444 steps lead up to the top of the mountain.
Flørli is a charming village situated in the innermost part of Lysefjorden, Norway. While it is primarily known for being an old hydroelectric power community, Flørli’s history dates back to the 1600s. One of Kallali’s sons settled here and made a living from farming and sawmill operations. Flørliåna, an important river that runs through the area, played a crucial role in the village’s existence. The farm was located on the south side of Lysefjorden, and the houses were built up the hill. Today, the original farmhouse still stands there, but it has been converted into a tourist cabin for the Stavanger Tourist Association.
Flørli is an ideal location for power production, as it boasts the second-highest developed waterfall in Norway, with a drop of 740 meters between Flørvatnet and the sea. In 1914, Einar Meling, a businessman from Stavanger, bought the Flørli farm, heaths, outlying areas, and the entire Flørvatnet for 16,000 kroner. He founded A/S Flørli Kraft- og Elektrosmelteverk in 1916, with a share capital of one million kroner. The plan was to develop 12,000 horsepower, and an agreement was made with Röchlingsche Eisen- und Stahlwerke in Duisburg, Germany, which would receive and sell the products at a price that at least covered the cost of production.
Construction began before the license was granted on November 16, 1916, and it proved to be quite challenging. The equipment had to be carried up to Ternevatnet, 740 meters above sea level, using human muscle power. Many stories of struggles during this period exist, including the famous story of Helmikstøl brothers, who were said to have carried 135 kilos on their backs up Flørlia.
The Flørli power plant was built with a pier and temporary power station that provided electricity. Later, barracks were built by the fjord and up the mountain. Flørlistølen, located in the middle of the hillside, became a separate base for people who transported materials with horses to Flørvatnet.
There were many other obstacles during the construction period. The pipeline from the power station by the fjord up to the dam in Ternevatnet had to be laid on concrete foundations that were cast into the rock. A rail track and a powerful winch were built to pull the wagons up the mountainside. There were many technical problems, and the operation of the winch was unstable. Once, a failure in the winch caused a trolley with nine people to slide down at breakneck speed. Everyone managed to jump out and save themselves, but there were stories of people who never took the trolley ride again after that day. Along the trolley track, a wooden staircase was built, which now has 4,444 steps and is the world’s longest wooden staircase. Today, this staircase is one of Flørli’s most popular tourist attractions.
In 1916, 119 people worked at the plant, and Flørli gradually became a small industrial community with a shop, post office, school, and employee housing. Life in Flørli was tough for adults and children, with up to 47 people living in 12 rooms in the barracks. The workforce peaked at 142 people in the summer of 1917.
In 1918, Stavanger Elektrisitetsverk leased all the power from Flørli. A/S Flørli hoped to make a profit from power production but failed. By 1928, the debt had reached 5.7 million kroner, and the power plant was bankrupt. In 1927, the plant was sold for 3.75 million kroner to Stavanger Elektrisitetsverk, becoming Stavanger’s main energy source for 25 years.
The power plant was improved, and the catchment area expanded. Production increased, and a new high-voltage line was installed between Flørli and Stavanger in the 1940s. Flørli developed into a small industrial community with a school, shop, and post office.
In the 1950s, when power production began in Lysebotn, Flørli became less significant. The school closed in 1970, the post office in 1981, and the last person left in 1999. The old power plant closed the same year, and a new, fully automated power plant was put into operation 800 meters inside the mountain.
Today, Flørli is a popular tourist destination with many attractions. It is a complete power plant community with lodges, welfare buildings, executive residences, engineering mess, machinist housing, school, shop, post office, pier house, fire station, and a small power station. Tourists can stay overnight in the tourist cabin or old apartments of construction workers, managed by Hessel Haker and Flørli 4,444. During the summer, food and drinks are available at the café in the old power plant.
The Flørli staircase is a popular tourist attraction in Lysefjorden, with 4444 steps leading to the top of the mountain. With Flørli as a base, tourists can choose from many hikes, including the waterfall trail and the cliff trail, built by Hessel Hakker in recent years. All hikes are steep and demanding, but the stunning views from the top are worth the effort.