The Gotthard Pass is known as the “people’s route”, a name that fittingly illustrates its function in the past, namely that of comfortable route for people but a less comfortable one for goods.
In 1708 the road was improved considerably and in 1775 we find documentation of the first carriage crossing, realized by the English geologist Greville. In 1799, the Russian army led by Marshal Aleksandr Vasil’evič Suvorov crossed the pass and fought against the French, in the Reuss gorges.
The situation only improved remarkably in the 19th century with, on the one hand, the construction of a real surfaced road – five meters wide throughout the whole route – and, on the other hand, a new bridge in the devil’s gorge, which was completed in the 1830s.
In 1850 a train trip from Milan to Basel required about 50 hours, by train from Milan and Camerlata and by boat between Flüelen and Lucerne.