Hurden and the Hotel-Restaurant Rössli
Its history and tradition
Hurden at the ice age
Four ice ages shaped the foothills of the Alps and formed the diversity of our region.
In the last ice period, the Linth glacier reached as far as Killwangen during the coldest period 25,000 years ago and the ice sheet over Hurden was 600 meters thick.
Only a few mountains towered above the ice sheet, such as the Etzel, the Bachtel and the Höhronen.
Glaciers slide up to 1000 meters down the valley every year and bring a lot of rock material with large boulders to the glacier tongues. If the climate gets warmer, more ice melts than can be supplied by the advance of the glacier, and the glacier retreats.
Back 13,000 years ago the earth suffered a new climate deterioration, the glacier tongue remained stationary over Hurden. The rubble formed in the already dammed Lake Zurich, consisting of masses of rubble and boulders from Glarnerland. The “Hurdner Stadium”, as a pause in the retreat phase of the closing ice age, has become known to geologists all over the world.
As late as 1852, Hand Conrad Escher von der Linth was able to observe and describe numerous boulders of red arable stone (Verrucano) on the Hurdner headland and in Lake Zurich between Hurden and Rapperswil. In doing so, he provided proof of the glacier theory developed at the time.
A 10-ton Verrucano boulder from the Glarner Kleintal was also in the building pit of the Hotel Garni. It was placed at the entrance to the hotel to commemorate the Hurdner past.
The pile dwellers of Hurden
Numerous settlements from the Neolithic and Bronze Ages have been identified around the peninsula. The shallow waters between the islands of Lützelau and Ufenau probably corresponded to the location sought for earlier cultures.
The remains of prehistoric houses have been preserved to this day and have been examined by the archaeological diving team of the city of Zurich on behalf of the canton of Schwyz and the municipality of Freienbach since 1998.
Numerous Neolithic settlements have been identified along the local side of the Hurdner headland. Round logs and latelings made of different types of wood are present in all the pile fields that have been discovered. In between there is uncovered findings. In many cases, these objects and the piles already lead us to believe when this took place.
In front of Hurden there is a 300m long settlement area from the time between
2048-46 BC The most surprising find on a small area near the so-called West shoal are probably the 13 stone axes, together with a flint dagger that can be proven to have been made in Grand-Pressigny, in western France, over 500 km from Hurden.
A second site is located right next to the jetty of our hotel. These are the oldest settlement records to date. The findings point to the Pfyner culture around 3700 BC. Chr.
At the end of the piece of land, at the so-called Rosshorn, there is an extraordinary site. There are many spears in rows, some with large diameters, which run from here in the direction of Rapperswil.
It appears to be the remains of paths and bridges that connected the two banks. Due to the first spears and the needles found between the pillars, some of these transitions already existed in the Bronze Age (1600 BC). Such old bridges are hardly known in Europe.
History of the island Hurden
Emperor Otto the Great donated the farms with the island of Ufenau to the Einsiedeln monastery. The manorial rule was never questioned by the inhabitants throughout the Middle Ages. They paid ground rent and tithes, according to tradition, to the Einsiedeln monastery:
6 Containers of seeds (324 kg)
10 Containers of oats
More than 1000 fish
Since the monastery was not at war and could not exercise jurisdiction, bailiffs were appointed. The Counts of Rapperswil and later the Counts of Homburg held this office until they were seized in 1342 by Rudolf Brun in Zurich. In 1356 the Habsburgs residing in Rapperswil became the governors of Einsiedeln.
At the beginning of the Sempach Wars with the Habsburgs, Zurich occupied the courts. In 1389 came a peace agreement, Zurich was able to keep the courtyards, and in 1420 also the Ufenau and Hurden.
In the Old Zurich War of 1440, Zurich lost its courts. The monastery was transferred the Schirmvogtei to the Schwyzers. Until the peace treaty was signed in 1450, the people of Schwyz, Austria and Zurich fought intense battles on land and at sea.
Through the French Revolution, Hurden came to the artificially created canton of Lindt and in 1803 in the meditation constitution with the Hof Pfäffikon to Schwyz.
During the regeneration, the courts suffered with hurden under the already mentioned aristocratic government of the canton. From 1830 to 1833, therefore, the liberal “Schwyz” was constituted, until it had to give up its independence in the half-canton due to massive pressure from the courts.
Since then, the farms have been linked to the wealthy communities in the inner part of the canton, due to the advantageous location, but economically and culturally very strongly influenced by Lake Zurich and a pleasant contrast to central Switzerland.
Orchids in the Hurdner Frauenwinkel
In early spring, the small orchid (Orchis morio) is the first to bloom in deep violet colour. Single flowers with green-veined tepals and a small upward-pointing spur form a lax inflorescence in April and May.
Then the crested orchids (Orchis militaria) with light, almost white tepal leaves that form the crest appear in somewhat drier locations. The three-part lip with another three-part middle lobe is covered with dark sap marks.
Also in June, a stately orchid with fine, sharp lip markings shows its splendour. Flesh-colored orchid (Dactylorhiza incarnata) bears many 6-7mm long, flesh-colored, small flowers surmounted by dark bracts. the faintly three-lobed lip with a small tip bears exotic markings, a small, conical spur points downwards.
The spotted orchid (Dactylorhiza maculata) with the dark colored spots blooms a little later. The dense inflorescence with purple, pink to white flowers is very variable and can have many shapes and colors in the same stand. The very distinct tripartite lip also has symmetrical marks with spots.
At the same time, the broad-leaved orchid (Dactylorhiza majalis) flowers in lilac-purple color of the three-lobed lip. It has a hollow stem, like Dactylorhiza incarnata.
Then the two-leaved forest hyacinth (Platanthera bifolia) also blooms. This very typical orchid has a narrow, greenish, downward-pointing lip with a very long, also greenish spur. Hundreds of stately specimens can be found at two locations.
Even later, the orchid (Gymnadenia conopea) shows its narrow, cylindrical, reddish-violet inflorescence in the reed. The many small flowers without markings have a thread-like spur and smell excellent, which is a rarity for orchids.
The last orchid blooms in July/August, usually many specimens together. The marshwort (Epipactis palustris) with the large, loose inflorescence is very similar to the exotic species. White flowers hanging downwards have greenish, veined petals, the bipartite lip has a movable front part.
In the 13th century, between the town of Rapperswil and the Hurden promontory, numerous fishing facilities were established that gave the village its name. These “hurdles” consisted of poles arranged in a zigzag and made of fir and ash wood with large traps at the acute angle, in which the albeli (small whitefish species) rushing to the spawning grounds in the Obersee got caught. These hurdens can still be observed today when the water level is low and calm between Hurden and Rapperswil. They were owned by the town of Rapperswil or belonged to the Einsiedeln Abbey, the Commander of Wädenswil, the Bubikon Knights’ House, the Richterswil Hospital or the Rüti Abbey. On the Hurdner side in the Frauenwinkel there were other compartments, the majority of which were used by the Hurdner fishermen. In the 15th century, the value of a compartment was about the same as that of a house in the town of Rapperswil. The interest for using all the hurdles amounted to over 20,000 fish, more than 1,000 kg of grain, beeswax and cash.
The so-called Frauenwinkel has always played a special role in relation to fishing. Owned by the Einsiedeln monastery since 965 thanks to a gift from Otto I, the shallow waters covered with reeds have been exemplary spawning grounds for the noble Lake Zurich fish.
The noble Häggling, various types of trout, even salmon from the sea appeared in winter as far as Glarus. Grayling, carp, bluelings, albels, bream, turkey, eel and perch enriched the diet of the population, especially during Lent, together with the swallows and alet, which were already considered “grating”. The description of the delicacies by Hans Erhard Escher in the description of Lake Zurich proves that even then gourmets appreciated the delicacy of the local lake fish.
“Lovers of a good bite like to say that the fish are good, the barbel’s mouth, the carp’s tongue and the burbot’s little burlap.”
Bird species also enrich themselves with the abundance of fish in the lake. The colony of cormorants in the Stampf in Jona and the many herons in the corner have multiplied in recent years to such an extent that professional fishermen are outraged and are demanding that the number of fish be restricted. Even without interfering with the complicated stock regulation, nature will ensure that the trees do not grow to the sky.
The bird life between Hurden and the islands of Ufenau and Lützelau
The shallow banks between the islands with the loose reed and rush stocks, the small-scale plant communities of the reed areas and the extensively used, gravelly terminal moraines offer a large variety of species, transit, breeding and winter quarters.
The most famous breeder is the striking 60cm curlew with the long curved beak and the plaintive courtship song “trauih” at dusk. Up to 50 specimens on the migration and pairs that breed annually enjoy the wide reed areas and the shallow bay of the “funnel” in the dense reed bed.
Up to 60 herons stay here, mainly as winter guests, but also as breeding birds. They enjoy the low water depth of this bay for food procurement and the complete shielding from civilization and the environment. The reed areas provide balance and variety.
The conspicuous lapwing breeds in large numbers in the open reed areas, which are only cut once a year after September 15th. In this way, the brood and rearing can be cared for without danger. The warning “Kie-wit” and “kie-r-wie” with the strongly swaying, acrobatic flight sounds modified when approaching its habitat.
The skylark also loves the small-scale landscape of the Frauenwinkel. It breeds only sporadically in fields or on dry areas of the reed. The clear, trilling “trr-lit” while shaking reveals their well-being. They often leave the Ried at dusk, flying together low over the waters of Lake Zurich.
The reed warbler and the reed bunting live in the narrow strip of shore between the reed beds and the moor grass meadows and spirea. The male, with a black head and throat, sings from a stalk and is therefore very easy to recognize, especially in spring.
The reed warbler lives in the reed beds by the water and the greater great reed warbler further by the lake. In spring, the two relatives can be less seen than heard and distinguished by song. The smaller reed warbler repeats its “Tschirrak – Tschirrak” several times day and night, the great reed warbler performs its creaking sounds “karre – karre” and “görk – gork – gork” in sustained rough singing.
The snipe with its bleating noise can rarely be observed.
Wine at Lake Zurich
The clear colour, the intense bouquet of grapes, a full-bodied varietal character and a happy mix of alcohol and acidity are the reasons for the typical quality wines from Lake Zurich.
Nearly 2000 hectares of vines covered the banks in 1880 before crop failures, foreign competition and disease caused the marked decline in wine production. Many names on the Etzelhang point to former vines, the municipality of Jona, the largest vine-growing community in the canton of St.Gallen, had ten times the area under vines than it does today, and vines from Einsiedeln Monastery were already growing on the Ufenau back then.
In Hurden, every inn had its own vineyard, as the Siegfried map from 1888 shows. The Rössli owned a vineyard on the south side of the gravel road on the way to Pfäffikon. The wine pressed in-house was stored in barrels in the cellar and served directly to the table of the thirsty guests.
The most important grape varieties were Räuschling, Elbling and Zürireben. Even today, in good years, large-berry Räuschling produces a sparkling wine that can reach top quality in hot summers. The noble white Riesling x Sylvaner has conquered the world as a wine variety from the Wädenswil research institute since 1905 and has also made a name for itself among connoisseurs with its rich, balanced bouquet.
Of the numerous red wine varieties, such as the black Erlenbacher, the blue Portugieser, the Limberger, the Müllerrebe and the Gamay, only the refined Pinot Noir or Klevner is grown today, which has risen to world class with its unique fruit bouquet.
The favorable southern exposure, the heat-storing effect of the lake in autumn and the foehn winds, from which the locals distinguish the “Glarner”, “Urner”, “Chatzeholzer” and “Bächer”. Let your own wine flourish, which is appreciated by wine connoisseurs. In addition, there has been care for generations of vine growers who are not striving for short-term, material success, and who often still have their own wine drunk, cared for and branded here.
The Rössli, owned by the Feusi family for 177 years.
(from “Das Rössli for 150 years owned by the Feusi family” by Paul Wyrsch, June 1980)
The oldest depiction of the Rössli comes from the 17th century by Conrad Meyer (1618 – 1689) and shows the Gothic window arrangement and an inn sign from the southwest, with the chapel on the right and the Rössli on the left.
In 1728 the Einsiedeln monastery bought the inn with garden, residential building and mat. The monastery converted the house into what it is today with the Baroque facade and the typical crippled hip.
Several owners bought and sold the house in the 100 years up to March 17, 1829, when Judge Balz Feusi acquired the properties for his two sons, Balthasar and Kaspar Anton. On April 26, 1852, the two brothers married the siblings Rosina and Marianne Höfliger, daughters of the Höfliger family, governor of the district. The two families managed the Rössli, the farm and the fishery together until they split up in 1877 when father Balthasar, saddened by his son’s decision to serve as a Jesuit in America, left the property in Hurden to his brother.
Kaspar Anton’s sons separated. Anton managed the Rössli until his death in 1903, while his brother Josef worked as an estate manager in northern Germany. After the death of his brother, he returned to Switzerland with his four children. He also died shortly afterwards and left the Rössli to mother Wilhelmine and her minor children.
The family survived the difficult time of the economic crisis with hard work and far-sighted management. The war years brought numerous wealthy guests from Zurich to the Rössli, who remained loyal to the inn and the family even after the war. The sisters Henrika and Johanna ran the Rössli very successfully until their deaths in 1961 and 1967.
Brother Joseph devoted himself to farming and fishing, serving the community in politics and society. He married an acquaintance of his father’s Elisabeth Cordes from Lohen, Northern Germany, who was visiting Hurden.
The descendants of father Josef, longtime district Ammann, Elisabeth and Josef took over the Rössli and the associated farm as the next generation. With the division agreement dated January 19, 1973, Josef acquired the inn and the farm as the sole owner.