Gullfoss still exists only because Sigríður Tómasdóttir, daughter of the owner of the estate that incorporated the falls, fought first her father and then the government to prevent a hydroelectric dam being built here in the 1920s. Permission to build the dam was granted, but public feeling – fanned by Sigríður – ran so strongly against the project that construction never began. Gullfoss was donated to the Icelandic Nature Conservation Council, and the area became a protected reserve in 1979.

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