Apart from settlements in Skoglia, it’s unknown if people made permanent homes in the valley. Ånderdalen was undoubtably an important hunting and fishing location for its coastal inhabitants.

In Gjeska there are signs of dwelling-places from the 16th to until the 19th century. Up into the valley of Gjeskedalen there are many historic hay-meadow areas. In Skoglia there are still the ruins of the croft of Jørgen Jørgensen from Gauldalen. Jørgen attempted to establish a farm croft over 200 years ago yet was so harassed by bears that he abandoned the attempt. In 1890 Nils Olai Olsen Skogli arrived and lived in Skoglia for 75 years. Succeeding Nils was his son Gabriel, who lived at his father’s namesake place until he died in 1994. In former times there were upland meadowlands in Selfjordbotn.

Lunch-stop at Åndergammen. Photo: Ingve Birkeland

Old shooting hides at Stortinden. Photo: Hans Peder Pedersen

After the church at Tranøya was built in the 13th century, the forests, mountains, rivers, and lakes became property of the church and the state. Since then, most of the deciduous forests of Senja have become public property. There are relics of old haybarns and upland meadows in several locations around Ånderdalen. These were likely used by crofters living along Tranøyfjorden. Pine forest was valuable and large areas of the Park show signs of historic logging activity. Placenames such as Førstevelten (‘First-Topple’) and Andrevelten (‘Second-Topple’) indicate that timber were rolled down steep hills at such places. Rolling the logs down steep terrain was deemed a safer alternative than using horses to drag the logs in these places, as was otherwise common practise.

The first Sami inhabitants of Senja were Coastal Sami who settled here in the Saga times (the early 2nd century/around the year 1000). These people lived by hunting and fishing, and Ånderdalen was an important hunting ground. The Coastal Sami were skilled bear hunters and could be relied upon to help when bears threatened the livestock of their farmer neighbours. Some Sami who migrated with reindeer flocks in the spring from Jukkasjärvi, in Sweden, thereafter established a home for themselves on Senja. Many living on Senja today have descendants from Sweden. At the beginning of the 20th century, Sami often had summer dwellings in Holmedalen and Gjeskeheia and many placenames in Ånderdalen have a historic connection with the early Sami.


In 1796 Jørgen Jørgensen from Gauldalen settled in Skoglia which is just outside that which would become the Park’s boundary. In 1890 the hunter Nils Olai Olsen Skogli arrived in Skoglia. He lived there for 75 years until his death in 1965 aged 91. Gabriel, Nils’ son, continued in his father’s footsteps and lived in Skoglia his entire life.
Gabriel was a quiet-mannered woodman whose life was highly connected to Ånderdalen, making Skoglia and its people who lived there still connected to the Park today.

Åndergammen. Photo: Ingve Birkeland

Ånderdalen. Photo: Ingve Birkeland

Ånderdalen National Park 50-year Anniversary: February 6th, 2020

The writer, poet, intellectual, environmentalist and ‘North- Norwegian patriot’, Hans Kristian Eriksen, was born in Kiberg in Varanger in 1933. In 1954 he settled at Songlandseidet in Southern Senja, rapidly adjusting his identity to that of a Senja inhabitant of the time. Hans Kristian was an outdoorsman, and he conveyed his many impressions of Senja’s nature through poetry and writing articles on local history and natural history. Ånderdalen immediately became important for him during his first year on Senja. He was captivated by the valley’s impressive Pine forest and land formations and campaigned for protective measures for the old-growth forest. On February 6th, 1970, Ånderdalen received its first National Park protection status.

Because of Hans Kristian’s outstanding commitment and efforts to establish the Park, he is given the appropriate title of ‘Father of Ånderdalen National Park’.