Simplon Pass Introduction
The Simplon Pass is a very tall mountain pass between the Lepontine Alps and the Pennine Alps, in the country of Switzerland. It links up Brig in the Valais Canton with Domodossola, which is located in Piedmont. The pass and the villages on either side of it, such as Gondo, are also located in the country of Switzerland. The Simplon Tunnel was built underneath the area of the pass in the early 1900s to move train traffic between both countries.
About 500 meters to the west of Simplon Pass is a pass that lies at a lower level, and it doesn’t have a name. That pass is located at an altitude of about 6,500 feet. It is the very lowest point on the watershed between the basins of the Po and the basins of the Rhone in Switzerland.
Rotelsee is a lake that is situated near the pass, and it rests at an elevation of about 6,650 feet.
The Simplon Pass has been in use sine the Stone Age. Up until the 1600s, it was used mostly by ragtag smugglers and mercenaries, since the Gondo Gorge was thought to be impassable, at least according to the Roman Era architects who looked at it back then.
There has been a passage through the mountains at this location for several centuries, and it has been locally used. However, the pass only got worldwide attention throughout the Napoleonic occupation. In the early 1800s an engineer built the Simplon Road on the order of the emperor so that he could artillery pieces through the pass between Italy and the Rhone valley. From that point, the pass has been in use for post carriages, and it was replaced in the early 1900s by post buses.
The road was improved at intervals and the authorities in the canton designed a plan whereby the pass would be open all throughout the year, and not closed to traffic over the winter like the majority of Alpine passes that were at this high of an elevation. The improvements included a number of avalanche shelters along the stretches of road that were more exposed and the expansion of various road tunnels to accommodate tourist coaches that were much taller than the post buses that were in use to transport passengers.
The Simplon departement (in the Swiss Valais Canton) got its name from the pass.
Simplon Pass Photo Gallery
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