Inauguration of the Gotthard Tunnel

21 May 1882
Where the lemon trees blossom
Where the lemon trees blossom

Tunnel workers pose next to the south portal of the Gotthard Tunnel in Airolo, 1881. The breakthrough was achieved a year earlier, but construction is not yet complete. (1881, Uri State Archives)

The Gotthard Tunnel is officially inaugurated on 22 May 1882. Around 15 kilometres in length, it is the world's longest rail tunnel at the time. Overseeing construction is the privately owned Gotthardbahn AG (Gotthard Railway Company), headed by Alfred Escher. International treaties give the Confederation a major role in rail construction for the first time. The tunnel is mostly financed by foreign capital and is a great commercial success. The results in its first year of operation vastly exceed expectations, with six times as many passengers and twice the volume of freight originally forecast.

« Mr G of the Council recognised a small crystal from 5081, half a millimetre in size and resembling yellow titanite, as turnerite. »

Special supplement to the Federal Council reports on the affairs of the Gotthard Railway Company, p. 157, 1882

Vor 75 Jahren

1955, Swiss Federal Archives

Vor 75 Jahren

75 years ago, 1955 (Swiss Federal Archives)

75 Jahre Gotthard-Bahn

1957, Swiss Federal Archives

75 Jahre Gotthard-Bahn

75 years of the Gotthard rail line, 1957 (Swiss Federal Archives)

199 deaths

during construction of the original tunnel - at least, not including deaths from illness and malnutrition

1'234 bridges and culverts

with a total length of 6.5 kilometres on the Gotthard Railway Company's network

58 m Swiss francs

contributed to the construction of the Gotthard rail network (including the tunnel) by Italy up to 1882, accounting for a quarter of the total cost of 238 million francs; 30 million francs contributed by Germany

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