In connection with an extensive development of fortifications on Odderøya in 1902-04, a number of paths and roads were also built. Due to its dominant position in relation to the city and the harbour, Odderøya has, among other things, been a location for military activity from 1675 until recent times. The military area on Odderøya accounted for approximately 575 of the island's total 681 acres at the end of 2000. The vegetation on Odderøya mainly consists of deciduous forest and pine forest distributed in a very hilly terrain that slopes steeply up from the sea towards the top on the south-west side. The beach in the western part consists of steep rock formations, while the terrain from the middle of the island towards the city is gentler.
Animal life Odderøya has not been rich in species, but for many years a tribe of deer has lived on the island. The number of animals in the tribe has varied from time to time. In some years the local game board has allowed the necessary felling, in other years the tribe has been decimated due to disease. The story of a deer that left the island to go to the cinema was good material in the local press in its day. The animal that really came from Odderøya was caught in the entrance to Alladin's cinema. Among other animals, salamanders have been observed in the former "Andedammen" - later called "Salamanderdammen" between the Hospital Hill and the Commander's residence, and in the dammed pond in the south of the island. Mink and otters must be observed on and around Odderøya. According to place name researcher Oluf Rygh, the latter animal is said to have given its name to the river Otra, which flows into the sea at Odderøya. It is reasonable to assume that Oddernes and Odderøya both got their names based on the name of the river. Incidentally, otters are called "odder" in certain areas of Southern Norway. What was more natural when Odderøya was to get its coat of arms, than to choose the otter as a motif. Bird life on Odderøya is very varied and rich. Most of our small birds are represented with the nightingale being the rarest. Of the larger species, we can mention char, tiur, (1950s), woodpecker, owl, pigeon, jay, magpie, crow and seabird.
Highest point on the island is "Toppen", which is 96 m above sea level. From this place there is a magnificent view of the entire approach to Kristiansand, the harbor itself and the surrounding archipelago. It is not surprising that in 1895 Kristiansand and Oppland Tourist Association set up a lookout tower for walkers who climbed to the top of the island. Odderøya was at this time a popular departure point for the city's population. This lasted right up to 1940, only limited by restrictions relating to the area of the cannon batteries that had been built around the top of the island in the period 1902-04. Another popular departure point was Peisestua, which was unfortunately demolished in the 1960s. It was located on the island's west side and below the commander's mess. In the period before the war, the fireplace room was used by the city's associations for meetings and dance performances. The settlement on Odderøya was from a long time ago very sparse and limited to a small farm with a few livestock. The landscape of the island did not invite agriculture on any large scale. After the Quarantine Service took over the island in 1807, 4-5 buildings were built on the hill in the north-east of the island. The height was later named Lasaretthøyden after the two large buildings that made up the quarantine station's lazarets. The buildings were built in wood in the period 1800-1804. After the end of the quarantine operations, the hospital buildings were used for soldiers' quarters 1914-18, family homes 1945-60 and offices for military departments 1960-2000. At the foot of Lasaretthøyden, 2 family homes were built for the quarantine personnel, including the quarantine inspector. Several of the inspectors who alternated in the service until the closure of the quarantine station in 1914, cultivated the land on Odderøya. One of the quarantine personnel's homes was demolished in the late 1950s, while the last one was demolished as recently as 1976/77.
Written by Arvid Svein Marthinussen and Kåre Steinsland.
Source: "The Naval Defense at Agder 1945-2000", Norwegian Journal of the Navy 2003.