Goppenstein until today


It is proven, that in 1474 the removal of lead in Goppenstein begun. But it's thought they mined yet in the Bronze Age. Apart from the lead mine, which has constantly expanded until 1906, Goppenstein was just an Alp like any other. In 1714 the first chapel was built. The street to the Loetschental reached Goppenstein in 1920.

From 1906 to 1913 the Loetschberg-tunnel, connecting Kandersteg with Goppenstein, was built. For the workers and their families there were built houses, restaurants, shops, a post office and schools. With 3500 inhabitants, Goppenstein become the second largest town in upper Valais.

To build the railway line and the station on a plateau they filled the former alp with excavated material from the tunnel. To make sure, the village and the train station were safe from avalanches they had to build large barriers to an altitude of about 2500 meters. Nevertheless, in 1908, 11 people were killed in a big avalanche hitting the village.

After finishing the tunnel, most of the buildings were demolished or burned down. Only a few buildings survived until today. 1 House was rebuilt in Kippel (today's doctor's house) and one building was added as a residence for railway employees. The today's restaurant Felsheim has been preserved from this time.

In 1920 they began to construct a road into the Loetschental. Until this time, Goppenstein war accessible via a narrow pathway. With the construction of the road, the free flowing Lonza was channeled.

For the expansion of the road and the Car Transport through the tunnel, in 1974 the chapel from 1714 had to be demolished. Instead, a new chapel was built near the railway station. In the next years, the road to the Loetschental has been expanded. Several avalanche protection galleries were built. Finally, in 1985, the new Mittal tunnel was completed and the old narrow road was no longer needed. This is now a bicycle path.

Until the 1990s, the single track Loetschberg line was expanded to double track. Some tunnels, bridges and avalanche protection galleries had to be widened or rebuilt. The biggest construction site was the new Lonza viaduct.

To speed up the construction of the new Loetschberg base tunnel, there were two intermediate points. One of them was in Goppenstein. For the workers there were accommodations and a canteen. To put the excavated material on trains, a big loading dock was built as well. The trains with the excavated material left Goppenstein several times every day. Today, there is only a modern, video monitored gate to the base tunnel. All the other buildings were demolished.

On December 12 2007 a rockslide occurred. Approx. 2 000 m3 of rock broke away from the Roter Zahn (red tooth). Enormous boulders landed exactly on the place, where a short time before the accommodation for construction workers were.

Today there is only a train station, a restaurant, an accommodation for railway workers and some chalets in Goppenstein.

Until 2007 the railway line was very busy. But with the opening of the base tunnel, a lot of the heavy freight trains disappeared. Beside the individual freight trains, there are the car transport trains and the hourly RegioExpress trains to Brig and Bern go through Goppenstein.

From Gampel-Steg to Goppenstein there is a National Road, which mainly serves the car transport trains to Kandersteg. From Goppenstein the road continues into the Loetschental until Fafleralp. There is an hourly post bus to the Loetschental and every two hours to Gampel-Steg.