'Now we have the big hole...'
Gotthardbahn, Laghi Maggiore, Como, Lugano, 1906
If the Gotthard was celebrated as a triumph of cooperation between three young nations, not all voices surrounding the opening of the tunnel were equally joyous.
The canton of Uri, at the tunnel's North end, was less enthusiastic about the new railway, which seemed to cut them off rather than attach them to the new nation. For many years, Uri had profited from traffic over the mountain road through the Gotthard pass. Now the rail traffic would largely pass them by. A poem published when the tunnel was opened described the town of Göschenen lamenting the new tunnel: "Now we have the big hole/still missing is the age of gold."
In the years that followed, the Gotthard increasingly became a symbol of Swiss pride. However, tourist advertisements for the Gotthard railway tended to emphasize the Gotthard railway not as a way to see Switzerland, but as a passage to Europe, especially the warm regions of the south.
Images of balmy Italian climes and women carrying citrus fruits beckoned tourists to take the railway, while the attached maps did not even mark the Swiss border.
How to cite this page
Alexander Badenoch, ''Now we have the big hole...'', Inventing Europe, http://www.inventingeurope.eu/infrastructures/now-we-have-the-big-hole
- Schueler, Judith. Materialising Identity: The Co-Construction of the Gotthard Railway and Swiss National Identity. Amsterdam: Aksant, 2008.