Curiosity-driven, this research combines viewpoints from the history of technology, cultural studies and cultural geography to grasp the intensity of the Gotthard as a national Swiss image. Whereas the relationship between the Gotthard Mountains and the Swiss national identity has received ample scholarly attention, the role of the Gotthard Railway remains largely unexplored.
To illustrate to what extent historical actors co-constructed the railway and Swiss identity, the empirical chapters start with an analysis of an engineering discussion about tunneling methods. Hereafter, the book examines the reactions in Switzerland to the inauguration of the railway line. Subsequently, it describes the appreciation of the railway line portrayed in travel guides of the belle époque. The last chapter captures the glory days of the Gotthard myth, before and during the Second World War, with a focus on the novels and plays, in which the Gotthard Tunnel construction occurs. This historical overview offers insight into the multiple roles that technology plays in the construction of a sense of national identity as well as illustrating how identity has an effect on the appropriation of a technological railway project.