THE 1905 LOEN CATASTROPHE
On 15 January 1905, a huge chunk of the 1,500-metre-high Mount Ramnefjell dislodged and 62 people perished as a result. The slide, which started 500 metres up the mountainside, carried with it a large area of scree below. The chunk of the mountain was approximately 100 metres tall, 50 metres wide and had a depth of 10 metres, i.e. it had a volume of approximately 50,000 cubic metres, corresponding to 125,000 tonnes. In addition, there was all the scree and gravel, bringing the total mass of the slide that plunged into Loenvatnet lake to approximately 870,000 tonnes.
All the houses swept away
The tidal wave rose to a height of about 40 metres and swept away all the houses in Ytre Nesdal. The same thing happened in Bødal where all the houses down by the lake were smashed by the wave, with the exception of a few barns and some small outhouses. The tourist boat Lodalen was washed 350 metres inland.
A total of 24 people died in Bødal on the night of the rockslide, and three more died later from their injuries. In Nesdal, 34 people died. Of those who perished, only 9 bodies were recovered and buried. The 1905 rockslide destroyed 60 houses in all and killed 94 cows, 10 horses, 145 sheep and 16 pigs. A memorial stone was erected at Nesodden the same year, but it was swept away by the rockslide in 1936.
Some of the local people talked about moving from the valley after the accident. All the farmsteads were nevertheless rebuilt. The houses were built further from the shore. Geologists believed that they were safe because they did not expect more slides on Mt. Ramnefjell, they said.
THE 1936 LOEN CATASTROPHE
In 1936, a chunk of Mt. Ramnefjell with a mass of one million tonnes/cubic metres broke off and the resulting tidal wave swept away all the farms around Loenvatnet lake. At about five in the morning on September 13th, another slide occurred on Mt. Ramnefjell, killing 74 people.
A 70-metre-high tidal wave
On this occasion a gigantic piece of the mountain with a volume of around one million cubic metres dislodged from the mountainside at a height of 800 metres. The tidal wave reached a height of 70 metres and swept away all the farms around Loenvatnet lake. This time the tidal wave was so high that it swept over the Nesodden promontory on the opposite side of the lake and scraped it clean. The memorial on top of the promontory was also swept away, despite the fact that it was cemented to the rock.
Great cost in human life
44 people perished in Bødal. In Nesdal, the houses that had been rebuilt on higher ground after 1905 were spared, while Fredsvoll farm nearer the lake was hit. The disaster attracted many interested spectators in addition to rescue personnel and volunteers. Three of them died. In Indre Nesdal, 23 people perished. Further down the lake the tidal wave also caused considerable destruction. On Sande farm, two small boys died and at Osnes two people perished.
Biggest natural disaster
The Lodal disaster is the biggest natural disaster to have affected Norway in the modern era, and extensive rescue efforts were instigated. Health personnel and rescue workers flocked to the rescue, and many of the injured were sent to the newly-opened Nordfjord hospital at Nordfjordeid. Crown Prince Olav of Norway attended the funeral service in Loen Church for those who perished.
The farms in Bødal and Nesdal were not rebuilt after the last disaster.
Beside the road between Bødal and Kjenndal, a copper plaque has been erected with the names of those whose bodies were never recovered after the Lodal disasters of 1905 and 1936.
THE 1905 LOEN CATASTROPHE