This underwater homestead is like a time capsule from old Norway
When photographer Lars Korvald ducked into the lake, he found ruins, a magic forest and the story of one hyperlocal apocalypse.
There once stood a homestead in the Norangsdalen valley by Ørsta. Now, there is only water. The story of the lake Lygnstøylsvatnet is the story of a hyperlocal apocalypse.
“In 1908, a rock slide blocked the river here. Within days, large parts of the area surrounding the homestead had been flooded”, says photographer Lars Korvald.
“When the mountain cracked and the stones fell, there was not much anyone could do. Nature always decides.”
A new lake formed. At the same time, the homestead was at once destroyed and preserved. More than a hundred years later, the remains can be found along with the surrounding forest right below the surface of the lake.
In Korvald’s pictures (you can find the whole set on his web page) rock fences frame gravel paths and trees are stripped naked but still somewhat intact. Water no longer runs underneath a bridge but instead all around it, and at the bottom of the lake the ground is still as green and lush as it was before the flood.
Korvald, who got his diver’s license back in 2008, says the lake had become a popular destination for divers – not least because of its accessibility to beginners.
“This is a dive you can do soon after completing a beginner’s course. It’s not deep and easily accessible by car. The only thing you need to keep in mind is to control your ascent so you don’t kick the trees and ruin what is down there.”
Lygnstøylsvatnet. Photo: Lars Korvald
One uncertain aspect with dives like these is visibility. For example, heavy rains can muddy the water. Between November and throughout the spring, there can also be a sheet of ice covering the lake.
Luckily, when Korvald and a group of divers from Trondheim made the trip back in November 2013, none of these things turned out to be an issue.
“We popped our heads beneath water and could immediately see for 25 metres ahead of us, the fences and the homestead and the trees and the green grass.”
With an SLR camera in underwater housing coupled with video lighting and flashes mounted on long arms, Korvald went to work on finding unique images.
In some of the shots, he also included his fellow divers.
“You have these old gravel paths made for horsedrawn carriages, and then you have these divers swimming along them, looking up at the homestead. That’s how you tell a story about travelling back in time.”