Mule track

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Column of pack animals on the Devil's Bridge in the Schöllenen

A mule or Saumweg is, for trolleys or carts too steep to narrow or impassable old route that previously hemmer using mules transported goods. Mule tracks are mainly found in the mountains. The now outdated meaning of the word hem for "load" represents this connection.

Many historical alpine crossings were designed as mule tracks and had a network of mule stations where the goods were reloaded to other animals. Donkeys , mules and horses were primarily used as pack animals in Europe . The transported goods were attached to the animals with pack saddles. The clear width of the mule track was at least 3 meters at container height.


Early and ancient times

Josua Zinsli, the last mule to cross the glass pass
Säumer on the Simplon Pass 2020

The transport of goods with pack animals has been through rock carvings near Carschenna , above Thusis and on the way to the Splügen Pass , since around 1000 BC. And was the only way to transport goods across the Alps at that time. It was not until Roman times that cart-compatible paths across the Alps emerged with the Brenner , Reschenpass , Malojapass , Septimerpass and Julierpass .

middle Ages

After the decline of trade at the time of the Great Migration , the mule system established itself in the Middle Ages , and more and more documents about mule orders appeared. The mules formed co-operatives , the so-called Porten , which received escort from the sovereigns : the so-called Fürleit . The mules developed their own legal system; the use of the framing was invoked in court . The transported goods were temporarily stored and transshipped in Susten .

While the owner initially accompanied his goods on horseback, towards the end of the Middle Ages the Stracksäumer established himself , who delivered the goods directly to the recipient. A consignment note, the so-called pollitte , was always carried with the goods .

Modern times

The heyday of seaming in the 15th and 16th centuries ended with the post office emerging in the 17th century and the ever better developed roads. In the Alps, however, the framing only lost its economic importance with the expansion of many passes into routes; on the Simplon in 1806, on the Splügen in 1822, on the Gotthard in 1830, and with the construction of the Gotthard Railway in 1882, it completely fell through.

Occasional seams are still used today, for example for the construction and maintenance of shelters for European Alpine clubs . Not least due to state subsidies for the supply of the Alps, alpine pastures and shelters in the alpine area with helicopters, the seaming in Europe is practiced today almost exclusively as a hobby and hobby.

Mule tracks (selection)

Most of the mule tracks today are either in ruins or have been turned into full-fledged roads.

Austria :

Switzerland :

Germany and Czech Republic :

See also

Web links

Commons : Equestrian trails in Switzerland  - Collection of images, videos and audio files
Wiktionary: mule track  - explanations of meanings, word origins, synonyms, translations

Individual evidence

  1. Duden online: mule track
  2. Duden online: Hem