The wooden pedestrian bridge between Rapperswil-Jona and Hurden, constructed by the population and the public as a joint 'Millennium project at the turn of the millennium', was inaugurated on 6th April 2001.
A short film was made to commemorate the wooden bridge's tenth anniversary. Click here to view this film. (only in German)
After Rapperswil was sold to the Austrian House of Habsburg in 1354 Count Rudolf IV the Wise decided to replace the ferry with a wooden bridge. The structure, completed in 1358, measured 1450 m in length and rested on 546 oak stakes. It was 12 feet wide (around 4 m) and was designed for pedestrians, cart traffic and cattle. Its construction and maintenance were financed with toll revenues although the inhabitants of Rapperswil, the friars from Einsiedeln and to a certain extent farmers from the Schwyz districts of Höfe and March were exempted from the toll.
The bold construction was however also exposed to various dangers. Time and time again during bellicose actions for example it was damaged or even destroyed and it was also battered by the forces of nature such as the pounding of the waves or storms. This is why the boards were not nailed down onto the bridge's structure nor was there a railing. In this way it was impossible for a storm to tear down the entire bridge, only the loose boards were swept into the lake. This all meant that crossing the bridge was not a riskless pleasure for everyone. The minutes of council meetings in the city archive continually refer to persons who had died 'uf der Brugg' (on the bridge).
The stone lake dam with the causeway
The wooden bridge linked the two shores for over 500 years, it was renovated for the last time in 1847. Three years later tolls fell due to the new federal constitution. Traffic by road and rail also rose rapidly and so a replacement for the narrow and inefficient bridge became necessary. In 1873 the Swiss federal parliament approved a federal contribution towards the construction of a stone dam with railway tracks and a road and construction began two years later. The inauguration of the new lake dam in 1878 was celebrated with a glittering party. Naturally, this joy was felt most keenly by Rapperswilers themselves although the construction subsequently caused them years of financial pain: of the total construction sum of 1,462,000 Swiss francs the city had to make a contribution of 1,100,000 Swiss francs. This meant that the taxes paid by Rapperswilers had to be almost doubled for a few years.
A walk on the dam's footpath had long since ceased to be a pleasure. This is why the idea of a new pedestrian bridge in the form of the old wooden bridge seemed tempting. The new pedestrian link was inaugurated on 6th April 2001 thanks to personal initiative and financial support from the federation, cantons and municipalities. It is the longest wooden bridge in Switzerland (841 m). It rests on a total of 233 stakes. With the exception of a few construction elements (yoke beam, railings and connecting elements) the entire bridge is made of untreated oak. The experts responsible estimate the material will have a working life of between 50 and 70 years. As was the case in previous years the new bridge has once again become part of the pilgrim's route and belongs to the Way of St. James linking Eastern and Central Europe with the place of pilgrimage Santiago de Compostela in North Spain.
Reconstruction of the wooden bridge
Would you like to find out how and why the wooden bridge was restored? Videos and CDs about the wooden bridge are on sale at the Stadtratskanzlei (city council offices) and at the Tourist Information.