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Cartographica Helvetica


Klaus Aerni:

The Gemmi – from a pass to a trail

Cartographica Helvetica 19 (1999) 3–15


The author analyzes the cartographic representation of the Gemmi Pass in space and time. He begins with a description of the topography and its function of a natural passage. It is followed by a general view on the history of traffic across the Gemmi Pass, from its beginning to the first representation on a map drawn by Konrad Türst (1495/1497) in connection with traces of the trail, which are still visible today. The evolution is clearly shown on early maps – from a single name to a significant symbol on Hans Conrad Gyger's map (1657) and to a linear feature representing the trail in its natural shape, drawn on maps by Alexis-Hubert Jaillot (1702), Johann Jakob Scheuchzer (1712) and others later on.

Panorama-like views of the steep cliff (Daubenwand) dominating the village of Leukerbad influenced the symbolic language as well. The Atlas Suisse by Meyer/Weiss (1796/1802) and several maps published in the beginning of the 19th century lead to a modern style of representation. The result of an archeological survey of the terrain shows that there had been several different trails across the region of the Gemmi Pass in the past and that many more historic traces of these tracks are still visible – even though they are not represented in todays maps.

Bibliographic note

  • Edited version of: Die Gemmi – Von der Verbindung zum Weg. In: Der Weltensammler. Eine aktuelle Sicht auf die 16,000 Landkarten des Johann Friedrich von Ryhiner. ed. Thomas Klöti, Markus Oehrli, Hans-Uli Feldmann. Murten, 1998. (Cartographica Helvetica Sonderheft 15). pp. 19–24.

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