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Cartographica Helvetica


Madlena Cavelti Hammer and René Brandenberger:

The Linth Project (1807–1822)

Cartographica Helvetica 14 (1996) 11–19


During the 18th century the canton of Glarus was faced with a rapidly growing population and a large number of textile factories. Most of the surrounding forests were cut down for firewood and building material. For many years, unusually heavy rain and snow periods lead to frequent floods, famine, and malaria.

The canton of Bern had already a lot of experience in dike and canal construction and its engineer Andreas Lanz proposed a first project for the correction of the Linth River. It took another twenty years until the first steps for improving the area were taken.

In 1804 Hans Conrad Escher (1767–1823) designed the Plan des Ausflusses des Wallensees und des Laufs der Linth bis in den Zürichsee . . . in the scale 1:46,000. The Linth River was supposed to be diverted into the Walensee, which served as a natural reservoir. From there the tamed Linth River was channelled into the Lake of Zurich. To finance such a huge project, a shareholders' company was founded – the first one in Switzerland.

Escher started his project with a handful of technically trained people and a team of 1000 local workers. The calculation of the gradient and the later levelling was done by Johannes Feer, an astronomer and engineer from Zurich. For the hydrotechnical details Escher employed the most experienced person in dike and canal construction, Johann Gottfried Tulla from Baden, Germany.

The entire construction period lasted fifteen years and the result was considered as the greatest welfare project of that time. Escher was honoured with the title 'von der Linth'. In addition to his work as an engineer, he was a keen Alpinist and a talented artist. He produced more than 900 panoramic views and landscape drawings from his numerous journeys.

Bibliographic note

  • See also: Errata. In: Cartographica Helvetica 15 (1997) p. 45.

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