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 Gudbrandsdalen valley

Gudbrandsdalen valley is oriented in a north-westerly direction from Lillehammer and the lake Mjøsa, extending 230 kilometers toward Romsdalen. The river of Gudbrandsdalslågen (Lågen) flows through the valley, starting from Lesjaskogsvatnet and ending at Mjøsa. The Otta river flowing through Otta valley is a major tributary to Lågen. Together with Glomma river and Østerdalen, Lågen and Gudbrandsdalen forms Norway´s largest river / valley system. Gudbrandsdalen is home to Dovre Line and the E6 road, and is the main land transport corridor through South Norway, from Oslo and central eastern lowlands to Trondheim and Møre & Romsdal.

The valley is divided into three parts: Norddalen (Lesja, Dovre, Skjåk, Lom, Vågå and Sel), Midtdalen (Nord-Fron, Sør-Fron and Ringebu), and Sørdalen (Øyer, Gausdal and Lillehammer).

Gudbrandsdalen was shaped by the recent ice age and rivers from the present glacial areas in Jotunheimen and Dovre. Bones and teeth from mammoths and musk oxen, living in the area at that time, are found in the valley. Several traces of hunters from the Stone Age are found in the valley (and in the mountain areas around). There is a rock carving of elks in the northern part of Lillehammer.

In 1827, the city of Lillehammer is established. The paddle steamer Skibladner on Mjøsa and Hovedbanen (the first railroad in Norway) connected Gudbrandsdalen to Christiania in 1856. Hamar-Selbanen changed its name to Dovrebanen 1921, and the new main railway between Oslo and Trondheim, was completed through Gudbrandsdalen. The outdoor museum of Maihaugen, exhibiting old houses from all parts of Gudbrandsdalen, opened at Lillehammer in 1904. The 1994 Winter Olympics were celebrated at Lillehammer.

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