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The towns are growing

Written by Bent Ek

The population at Eiker was growing steadily, and a significant part of this increased population settled near sawmills and other businesses. This gave rise to settlements - or "villages", as it was often called in the 18th century. 

The largest sawmill site in the Drammensvassdraget was Vestfossen, where the manors Sem and Fossesholm since the 16th century had had water sawmills and mills on each side of the waterfall course. In addition, the Hassel ironworks had a large bar iron hammer here, and the place was also an important hub in the transport of goods to Kongsberg. By the end of the 18th century, it had become a place with over a hundred houses and around 750 inhabitants - about the size of the market town of Kristiansund and larger than small towns such as Sandefjord, Grimstad, Lillesand, Flekkefjord and Egersund.

In Haugsund (Hokksund) lived around 500 people. Here it was not sawmills and industry that were the cause of the built-up area, but the ferry traffic at the health resort, combined with timber floating and salmon fishing. In addition, the sheriff lived in Haugsund and the village councils held there, so that the place was at peace with becoming a local administration center. Not far from this built-up area, there was also settlement around the sawmills at Vendelborg and by Hoen, and on the grounds of Haug vicarage there were also several settlements, including the Nøstetangen glassworks.

 Skotselv was the second largest of the sawmill sites along the Drammenselva, and around 200 people lived here towards the end of the 18th century. The settlement around the Hassel ironworks was considered a separate settlement, but no more than around 100 people lived here. Much of the activity at the ironworks was related to coal burning and driving, and this was done by people who lived on farms and places that were a good distance from the plant itself.

There were also settlements around the mills in Solbergelva, the sawmills in Mjøndalen and the timber hinge on Stenberglandet, but these settlements were not so large that it was common to mention them as "villages". In the Krokstadelva, a nail factory was built in 1762, and together with the mills that existed here before, it laid the foundation for a built-up area which at the end of the 18th century was 2-300 people.

Also in the neighboring village of Modum, the emergence of settlements was an important part of the development, and in the same way as at Eiker, the reasons were complex. While Åmot was an old sawmill, Vikersund at the end of the Tyrifjord was first and foremost a transport hub and ferry port for crossing the river. The waterbed at Geithus had a settlement connected to Bergsjøhengslet, which had an important role in the timber floating in the watercourse.

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