The land here has a very interesting history. Even as the glaciers slowly receded in the Alps, the narrow Schöllenen Gorge captured ice in the area that is today the village quarter of Andermatt Reuss. Gravel and debris that the glacier brought along on its travels were deposited in the glacial lake that formed in the area of Andermatt Reuss. The lake sediment was followed by the sediment deposited by the Reuss river. This historical record forms the geological subsurface. In front of Nätschen and Gemsstock is firm, rocky soil, optimal for a building foundation. That explains why the people of Andermatt chose this location for the village. Today, however, the technical conditions are even better. Pilings make the ground stable so that it can be built on. In Andermatt Reuss, the apartment buildings and hotels are not situated directly on the ground but rather on the underground car park – also known as the “podium”.
CKW reservoir project
Back in 1920, the director of the Central Switzerland Power Plant (CKW), Fritz Ringwald, had the idea of using the natural narrowness of the Schöllenen Gorge to the region's advantage. At that time, Andermatt was literally on the verge of going under. The CKW, together with the engineer Karl J. Fetz, was planning to build a dam rising 75 to 90 metres in height near Urnerloch, the last tunnel before reaching Andermatt. Nearly the entire Urseren Valley would thus have been submerged. Opposition to the project spread among the inhabitants of the valley, and on 22 August 1920, the citizens’ assembly voted 120 to 7 to reject it.
However, the valley residents were not spared the plans for long, and new projects were proposed in the 1930s. This time, the dam was to be as high as 200 metres. Opposition to the project was still unbroken, and CKW engineer Fetz, who was responsible for the land purchase, was hounded out of the village by as many as 300 Andermatt residents. If the plans had been implemented back then, Piazza Gottardo would now lie deep beneath the surface of the reservoir. The reservoir project was relocated to the neighbouring Göscheneralp Valley. The sight of the dam is very impressive. An excursion to Göscheneralp is by all means worthwhile.