Midtlyng - Mitlyng Genealogy
A Description of the Gauldalen Valley
By Olav Bolland
Gauldalen is a valley in the central part of Norway in the county Soer-Troendelag (Southern Troendelag). The latitude for this area is about 64, which is the same as in the middle of Alaska. However, the climate is better than in Alaska because of the warming ocean gulf stream. Around fifteen thousand people live in the valley.
The valley is approximately 100 km long. The river Gaula runs in the valley in the northwest direction from its origin in the mountains between Aalen and Tydalen. This is approximately 30-40 km from the Swedish border. In the winter time this is a very cold area with temperatures down to -40 degrees Celsius.
There are several small villages in the valley. The distance between these is typically 4-7 km and the size is 800-1500 people. Compared to the European continent one can hardly use the term village. Houses in a Gauldalen village are not as concentrated as you would find in a typical central European village. In general Norwegians do not like the neighbors to be too close. And unlike people in central European countries, Norwegians did not need to defend themselves against warfare's and outlaws by building their houses close together. Houses and the numerous farms are therefore found spread around in the valley.
When following the river Gaula on it's way down the valley, the first village is Aalen. Here the valley is rather wide with farmland down in the valley and also in some areas up in the hillsides. In Aalen another smaller valley ends named Hessdalen. Hessdalen is widely known for the numerous UFO observations, or someone would say light phenomena, that occur under certain atmospheric conditions. However, so far, no aliens have been observed.
After Aalen the valley becomes very narrow and at some places there is hardly space enough for the road beside the river. The valley then opens up a little where the village Haltdalen is situated. Haltdalen and Aalen constitute the community Holtaalen, which is one of the three communities in the valley.
Further down, the valley is rather narrow with steep hillsides. One find the villages Singsaas, Rognes, Kotsoey and the community center Stoeren. These villages together with some other villages outside the valley constitute the community Midtre Gauldal. Stoeren is a school center for this area. At Stoeren another valley, Soknedalen, joins Gauldalen. In the year 1340 a great landslide more or less closed the valley at Hage which is one of the narrowest passages in the valley. The river Gaula made a lake approximately 9 km long upstream the mud dam made by the landslide. The mud dam finally broke and there was a flood down the valley which killed many people and destroyed farms and churches. This was only five years before the great plague Svartedauen ("Black Death" or bubonic plague) ajority of the population in Norway.
After Stoeren the valley opens up and becomes wider and wider into the third and last community, Melhus. The villages Hovin, Lundamo, Ler, Kvaal, Melhus and Oeysand are found in this lower part of the valley. At Hovin the river passes through a very narrow passage or canyon, Gaulfossen ("the Gaul fall"), though the valley itself is wide at this point. In the fall of 1940, after 4 days of heavy rain, the river was choked by this passage causing a flood upstream with water levels several meters above previously known high levels.
The next village is Lundamo. Hovin and Lundamo constituted the former community Horg, and these two villages today share the same church which is situated between the villages. Very characteristic for Lundamo is two big "rocks" or small mountains, Litjsteinen and Storsteinen ("the Little Rock" and "the Big Rock"). The community hall in Lundamo is widely known for the Saturday night dance with live music and young people from the entire valley coming together.
Ler is the next village on the journey down the valley. Another name used by the residents is Flaa, which was the name of this former community until 1964. At that time a number of small communities joined the Melhus community. The valley is wide at Ler caused by a gigantic landslide from the eastern hillside sometime after the last ice age. The name Ler means mud. The former Norwegian prime minister, Per Borten, grew up and is still living at Ler. The soccer team Flaa was for decades the best in the valley, but today this honor now belongs to Melhus.
The next village is Kvaal. This village is known for a butcher producing among other things the well-tasting "morr" which is a kind of dry and salty sausage. It goes well with boiled potatoes, flatbroed (a special thin brittle bread, "flat-bread"), sour cream and a beer.
Melhus is then the next village. Actually it is more than a village: Melhus covers an area of several kilometers of the lower part of the valley. It is a community center. Melhus is an old village with ancient history, including the nationwide famous warrior Einar Tambarskjelve. From modern history there is the famous labor party leader Einar Tranmael whose statue is found in the center of the village. Melhus has some of the finest farmland in the central part of Norway.
From Melhus and down to the river mouth at Oeysand the valley is flat and becomes 2-4 kilometers wide. The valley ends at the Trondheimsfjord 15 kilometers from the town Trondheim which has 145000 inhabitants and is the third largest in Norway. During World War II Hitlers planners wanted to build a city for 30000 people at the river mouth. Today the river mouth is a protected area because of numerous birds and other species who are living there. One of the very few sand beaches in the central part of Norway is situated close to the river mouth.
A railway line goes from Trondheim and into the valley at Melhus and further southward. At Stoeren the railway line is split in two directions; one directly south towards the capital Oslo (out of Gauldalen and into another valley called "Soknedalen" or Sokne-valley) and the other southeast further up the valley towards the town Roeros. The main south-north road (E6) in Norway goes in the northern part of the valley along with the railway line which leaves Gauldalen at Stoeren and goes up the valley Soknedalen.
Gauldalen was shaped by a moving glacier at the end of the last ice age, ten to twenty thousand years ago. At that time the ocean level was approximately 200 meters higher than today, or it is more correct to say that the land was pressed down by the weight of the enormous glacier covering Scandinavia. One can today easily find several geological formations created in the last period of the ice age. High school and university students come to Gauldalen to study these formations and learn about the shaping of the landscape.
The bottom of the valley is mostly flat with a high quality soil suitable for farming. The hills surrounding the valley are typically 300-500 meters higher than the bottom of the valley, and these hills are mostly covered by mainly pines and some birch. Some farmland as well are found in the hillside areas, especially in the lower parts of the valley.
The river Gaula is one of the best rivers in Norway for fishing salmon. The typical size of the salmons is 3-12 kg, but a few big ones up to 20-25 kg are also caught after tough fights.
Most of the villages in Gauldalen have their own genealogical books including descriptions of all the families as well as a large number of pictures of farms and houses.
I extend my greatest appreciation to Dr. Bolland who graciously provided this superb description of the valley that was the home of the Midtlyng families. He grew up in the village Ler in the valley Gauldalen.
Jim Mitlyng, M.D.