Gondo, Stockalperturm. Foto/Photo: TES

The Simplon Pass, Gondo and the Ecomuseum Simplon

The Eco Museum Simplon focuses on the transit traffic of the Simplon Pass, its history and the natural environment of the Simplon and the valley. The museum combines landscape with cultural history, hence the addition ‘Eco’. The museum has several buildings with permanent exhibitions.

It is mainly an open-air museum with the medieval ‘saum’ road and the seventeenth-century Stockalper road of about 35 kilometres as the main route. Saum is another word for a mule. Transport took mainly place with this pack animal until the advent of the stagecoach. Traders are called ‘Säumer‘ for this reason.

The Stockalperweg is a hiking trail that leads from Brig via Gabi and Furgu through the Zwischenberg valley and the Gondoschlucht (Gondo gorge) to Gondo.

The museum’s main building is Der Alte Gasthof (the Old Inn) in Simplon-Dorf (Village). The international transit traffic and its impact on regional history (Brig, Simplon-Dorf and other villages), the cultural-historical objects from this region (the Perren Collection), and the past of the Gondo-Zwischbergen gold mine is the main focus.

Die Alte Kaserne (the Old Barracks) is a Napoleonic building at the entrance to the Gondo Gorge. It shows the traffic routes of the Simplon: the old saum path (12th and 13th centuries), the Stockalper road (17th century), the Napoleonic road (1805), the railway line with the construction of the Simplon tunnel (1906) and the national road (1957).

Fort Gondo was in use in the Napoleonic years 1798-1813. The army expanded the complex into a modern fort at the beginning of the 20th century and during the Second World War.

Das Goldabbaumuseum (gold mining museum) in the Stockalperturm in Gondo shows the gold mining town of Gondo. Kaspar Jodok von Stockalper (1609-1691), “le Roi du Simplon“, as he was called at the court of Louis XIV, mined gold in the 17th century. Until the early 20th century, various companies tried to mine this precious metal without too much success.

(Source and further information: Ecomuseum Simplon; www.simplon.ch; ViaStoria Kulturwege Schweiz)