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Vestfossen is a former industrial town with traditions dating back to the 16th century. At that time, the manor house known as Fossesholm became the center of a land collecting effort for the purpose of creating a large-scale sawmill industry. Later, other types of industry emerged. The most influential among them were the textile factory of Fredfos Uldvarefabrik and the Vestfossen Cellulose, a former paper company founded in 1886 as a pulp mill, which declared bankrupt in 1967.

An industrial crisis which occurred around 1970 lead to the fall of these factories, and large parts of the local industrial infrastructure was unused for a long time.

After the year 2000, a cultural effort led to the establishment of several cultural institutions here, most notably the contemporary art gallery of Vestfossen Kunstlaboratorium founded by artist Morten Viskum. Vestfossen now calls itself "the capital of culture".

Jonas Lie was born november 1833 in Hokksund and grew up in Tromsø. As a youth Jonas Lie was a naval cadet in Stavern and lived in the naval barracks. This setting became the basis of his famous novel "The commander´s Doughters" (Kommandørens døtre) which immortilised him in Norway. In his later years, Jonas Lie and his wife Thomasine retired to Stavern, to their house "Elisenfryd". Stavern, was home to many of Norway´s most known and celebrated artist including Herman Wildenvey and Jonas Lie.

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