The little village of Weesen is squeezed between the vertical stretch of the Swiss Alps on one side and the other side meets the shoreline of the Walensee, one of Switzerland’s largest lakes. It is now a popular tourist attraction with boating, trendy shops and restaurants, and breathtaking mountain scenery.
But until the early 1800’s, life in the villages around the Walensee had its ups and downs. Or we should say the lake itself had its ups and downs. Every spring, the snow melt ran off the mountains into the lake, raising the water level by several meters, flooding the lower portions of the towns. What little agricultural plots there were, soon became muddy swamps. Poverty increased, and diseased such as malaria and tuberculosis were rampant.The river Linth drains the Walensee, flowing westward from it at the point where Weesen sits.
n and scientist named Hans Conrad Escher (1767-1823) had a solution. Escher devised a plan to dredge channels in the river Linth to let the spring excess flow better. The massive project took about sixteen years to complete. The channels ended the flooding and allowed the level of the Walensee to reduce by about five meters. Living conditions were greatly improved, and more agricultural land became available as the swamps dried up. A monument stands in honor of Hans Conrad Escher on the lakeshore in Weesen.
My ancestors lived in Weesen for at least 200 years. About 1850, My great-great grandfather, Johann Fuelleman, left Switzerland to settle in Texas. What a drastic change in scenery and climate he must have experienced! Raising cattle had to be easier on flatter ground, but surely he missed the view of the Swiss Alps.
Raquel Lindaas, AG