naming tunnels

It was when I saw the sign on the particular A3 Autobahn Tunnel in Switzerland on our way to Wollerau that I started thinking, something that can border on aggravating or dangerous for those around me.

Now, I grew up in Minnesota. We had towns, cities, and spots on the road which might be inhabited by five people and a gas pump. All of them had names known to one and all. Lakes were names, rivers were named. Streams? Not unless they were big enough to be navigable. Given the area and the ethnic background of those providing the names (Native American or Scandinavian) the patterns were fairly simple. Long words not properly spelled or pronounced by any of the white folks wandering around who also had not a clue as to what the name meant; people and places from home being the other favorite option. Tunnels weren’t a question. I don’t think there were any mountains in Minnesota large enough to require a tunnel. That leaves bridges, most of which seemed to be named for the river that flowed underneath. Perhaps some of them had other names (including X Memorial Bridge) but most of us never learned those. Freeway bridges and over passes did not have names.

Maybe they do now and any Minnesotan reading this can certainly pipe up.

When I think about Washington, DC, I have the impression that many of the large freeway bridges have names, but then – those self same bridges are not crossing deep valleys but connecting two riverbank sides and many are named for the River.

Europeans seem to name everything. Of course, all Europeans take extensive amounts of geography in school so that they can locate all those places with interesting names.  The Autobahn bridges have names; usually but not always for the valley they cross, or the river or someone who needs to be remembered or more than one of the above. In Switzerland, the tunnels are named for the mountains through which they bore. This fact leads me to the problem then of who named the mountain and why.

The particular sign said “Habsburg” which I misread as “Hapsburg”  was above the entrance as we headed in at relatively good speed and me with mindless knitting on rather slippery metal needles. A little bit of research netted me the information that the particular peek was only 1540m tall and that, indeed Habsburg is an alternate spelling for Hapsburg.

By the time we were done arguing –  excuse me – discussing whether or not the US named things as often as is the case in Europe we had driven three more tunnels, exited the A3, wound around a number of hills and were parking the car. The thunder, lightening and rain trying to become hail that had been 15 minutes behind us the whole trip came crashing down around us just after we settled in. More than glad not be be driving in such conditions but you would have been spared  since there is no way I could have possibly read the name of  anything through the sheets of water.

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9 Responses to naming tunnels

  1. Bruce says:

    And then there are the 26 tunnels b/t the Rhine/Neckar region and Livorno.

    Betty say this is literally a trip “through Switzerland.”

  2. Holly says:

    I fully agree with her. It also makes a great case for audio books since the surrounding light is changing on a rapidly enough basis that passengers can go completely nuts!

  3. Alison says:

    Chain Bridge, the–yes, I remember named bridges close to/in DC, but all
    of them were major ones, and all the older ones were commuter choke
    points so they needed names anyway for the radio guys to reference.

    And now I’m going to have to go ask my old friend Karen, okay, what was
    that VA-MD one over the Potomac near the Bethesda Naval Yard (ie close
    to home). There is no good reason for me to pull a blank on that!

    (Are there mountains at all in Minnesota? Really?)

  4. Holly says:

    I had forgotten about Chain Bridge.

    As far as mountains in Minnesota – nothing like Utah or Colorado, but a few good size hills up on the Iron Range (another literal name there). More cliffs along rivers than real mountains.

  5. Mitch says:

    In Minnesota:

    Lowry Hill Tunnel in Mpls, High Bridge in St. Paul

  6. Cheryl says:

    Of course, having something on an Air Force base named for you is usually not a good thing. Unless you were one of the pioneers of flight/airpower, it usually means you died young and tragically.

  7. Holly says:

    Oh, excellent point!

  8. Beverly says:

    Interesting to hear that you have had severe weather too. We had flash floods on Friday – see . One-third of the average rainfall for the month of July fell in 2 hours.

  9. Chere says:

    Sounds Very much like our storm of last Friday afternoon-into-Saturday early morning. We had 5.50 inches in my rain gauge out back and have no idea as to the accuracy, as that is the maximum capacity! No watering for a couple of days, at least.

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