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Historical Sketches of the Foreign Missions of the Seventh-day Adventists

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    The St. Gotthard Pass

    After leaving Erstfeld, a large railway station, the ascent begins. A heavier engine has been attached to the train, and we enter a rocky defile flanked by steep and lofty mountains. At the base of these rushes the foaming river Reuss, forming of itself a succession of beautiful waterfalls, and receiving numberless smaller cascades which appears to spring from the tops of the highest peaks. As we proceed, the gorge begins to narrow and the interest to increase. It seems as though the turbulent Reuss, thinking merely of its own convenience, had cut a place just large enough for itself through the solid rocks. Therefore the train is obliged much of the way to make a path for itself within the mountain. The heaviest grade on the road is one foot in four. In many places, however, it has been made much less than this, by the use of bridges and curved tunnels, as shown in the accompanying engraving. There are three of these tunnels on the north side of the mountains, and four on the south side.HS 229.1

    In the first of these tunnels, the Pfaffensprung, the train enters the side of a mountain, describes a complete ascending circle of over sixteen hundred yards, and, emerging from the mountain, crosses its own track one hundred and fifteen feet above the place where it entered. Then, crossing the boiling Reuss by a huge iron bridge, the train enters the Wattinger loop tunnel, in which an ascent of seventy-six feet is made. Then another bridge across the river, the considerable village of Wasen, and we plunge into the third curved tunnel. Beyond this the train skirts the mountain side, from which is obtained a grand view of the windings just traversed, lying far below. Altogether, this railroad has over fifty bridges, most of them large iron structures, and fifty-six tunnels.HS 229.2

    The longest of these is called, by way of distinction, the St. Gotthard. This one tunnel is nine and one-fourth miles long. In the middle of it the road reaches its highest elevation, 3787 feet above the sea, and then begins to descend on the other side. During the seven and one-half years in which this one tunnel was in process of construction, twenty-five hundred workmen on an average were employed daily, and sometimes the number reached three thousand four hundred. The boring was commenced on both sides of the mountain at the same time; and such was the engineering skill displayed that when the workmen came together, there was not the variation of an inch in their work. The contractor, Mr. Louis Favre, did not live to see the completion of his task, having died of apoplexy in the tunnel three years before it was finished.HS 229.3

    It took our train twenty-five minutes to pass through this tunnel; but the arrangement for ventilation is so complete, a current of fresh air being constantly forced through the tunnel, that we found it unnecessary even to close the windows. There was something solemn in the thought that while we were nearly four thousand feet above the level of the sea, there were yet from six to seven thousand feet of solid rock piled above our heads, and three thousand three hundred and fifty feet above us lay the clear waters of Lake Sella. It was with a sense of relief that we emerged from this dark cavern, only, however, to be again lost in wonder, this time not so much at the workmanship of man as at the mighty works of God.HS 230.1

    Soon after leaving the St. Gotthard, we come to Airolo, the first Italian-Swiss village. From this point the road descends the valley of the Ticino by means of numerous windings, and by straight and circular tunnels. Soon an immense mountain projects into the valley, apparently with the desire to check the course of the impatient, swift-flowing Ticino: but by some means the river has succeeded in forcing a passage through it, and descends in a series of falls through a wild, rocky gorge to a lower region of the valley, while the railway accomplishes the descent by means of two circular tunnels, the Piano Tondo and the Travi, one below the other in cork-screw fashion. In each of these tunnels a descent of one hundred and eighteen feet is made, thus enabling the train to descend an otherwise impassable gorge. From this point the valley begins to widen. Beautiful cascades are seen pouring over the cliffs on each side, and interspersed among the rocks are noble chestnut, walnut, mulberry, and fig trees.HS 230.2

    At Bellinzona about four o'clock in the afternoon our train was divided, and a portion of the cars and passengers wound their way around the mountain side toward Milan, while we continued our course to Turin, along the border of the beautiful Lake Maggiore. Here we arrived about ten o'clock in the evening, and found excellent accommodations at a hotel near the station. After a good night's rest, we were ready to continue our journey at an early hour.HS 230.3

    About thirty miles west of Turin we left the vast plains which “stretch like a garden for two hundred miles along the foot of the Alps,” and, passing through a narrow opening in a low range of mountains, entered the Piedmont valleys. Only one of these valleys, that of Lucerne, is traversed by the railroad. Soon after entering this valley, several others spread out like a fan, some at our right and some at our left. But it is in this central and largest valley, at the terminus of the railroad, that Torre Pellice is situated, and thither our course is directed, that, if possible, we may encourage the little company there who are striving under great difficulties to obey God. We reached this place Friday, about 9 A. M., and were welcomed to the hospitable home of Eld. A.C. Bourdeau, who, according to the vote of the last European Council, had just located here with his family.HS 230.4

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