Gullfoss is one of Iceland’s most spectacular and iconic waterfalls. The close proximity to Thingvellir National Park and Geysir makes it a perfect day tour to catch all three in one day, also known as the Golden Circle. But did you know that if it wasn’t for a strong and determined woman named Sigrídur Tómasdóttir, Gullfoss might not be here for us to enjoy?
Iceland’s first environmentalist
Sigrídur grew up on a farm nearby Gullfoss and although she never went to school she learned to read and was both creative and well read. Sigrídur and her sister sometimes guided visitors to see the waterfall and understandably she grew very fond of it. Who wouldn’t?
In the early 1900 foreign investors saw an opportunity to industrialise the waterfall and requested permission to build a hydroelectric dam which would fully submerge Gullfoss under water. Sigrídur hated those plans and it seemed like an impossible battle going up against the investors, the government and even her own father who had signed papers giving permission for lease of the land.
Sigrídur staged protests in order to battle the giants and even threatened to jump into the waterfall. Story has it she went walking a few times to Reykjavik over 120 km to plea to the government.
A young lawyer Sveinn Björnsson, represented her legally but he would later become Iceland’s first president. She had no luck with the legal system but gained positive public attention leading to finally contracts being rifted and all plans for a dam were abolished.
Fight for what you believe in
The story of Sigrídur shows us we should always fight for what we believe in no matter how powerful the opponent may seem. Thanks to Sigríður this beautiful waterfall is still here today for us to enjoy and hopefully for future generations too.