Säumer (rare Saumer , Austrian also Samer ) were people who transported loads on the back of pack animals across the mountains. For centuries they mainly carried salt and wine on mule tracks and over the passes of the Alps . As a mule, one had to own a horse, a mule, a mule or an ox.
The term Säumer (or Saumer etc.) mostly refers to this historical occupation, but the pack animals were also called this way. The word hem , which is no longer in use today, means something like "load".
The trade of the haulmers is known as haulage . The trader worked on his own account on behalf of foreign merchants or customers. Some of the haulers were also organized in haulers' cooperatives .
Separate state laws applied to this transport trade. For example, in the Swiss canton of Uri , pack animals were not allowed to be loaned because, according to the passport regulations, they were the first deposit for the transported goods. In Chur , the tax was precisely regulated in every detail so as not to expose travelers to the blackmail attempts of hauliers.
The most important goods were salt from north to south and wine from south to north. In addition, silk, velvet, rice, grain, brocade, wool, cheese and oil were traded. The resulting mule trade was an important source of income in the affected Alpine valleys.
As architectural witnesses to this lively commercial activity, there are still a large number of mountain inns, which served as seam stations for changing the pack animals and, in bad weather, as hospices , as well as some monuments (see pictures on the right).
- Hans Stadler: Säumerei. In: Historical Lexicon of Switzerland .
- Column of pack animals at the Devil's Bridge on the Gotthard Pass (copperplate engraving, before 1790) in the Google book search