1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Glarus (canton)

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GLARUS (Fr. Glaris), one of the Swiss cantons, the name being taken from that of its chief town. Its area is 266.8 sq. m., of which 173.1 sq. m. are classed as “productive” (forests covering 41 sq. m.), but it also contains 13.9 sq. m. of glaciers, ranking as the fifth Swiss canton in this respect. It is thus a mountain canton, the loftiest point in it being the Tödi (11,887 ft.), the highest summit that rises to the north of the upper Aar and Vorder Rhine valleys. It is composed of the upper valley of the Linth, that is the portion which lies to the south of a line drawn from the Lake of Zürich to the Walensee. This river rises in the glaciers of the Tödi, and has carved out for itself a deep bed, so that the floor of the valley is comparatively level, and therefore is occupied by a number of considerable villages. Glacier passes only lead from its head to the Grisons, save the rough footpath over the Kisten Pass, while a fine new carriage road over the Klausen Pass gives access to the canton of Uri. The upper Linth valley is sometimes called the Grossthal (main valley) to distinguish it from its chief (or south-eastern) tributary, the Sernf valley or Kleinthal, which joins it at Schwanden, a little above Glarus itself. At the head of the Kleinthal a mule track leads to the Grisons over the Panixer Pass, as also a footpath over the Segnes Pass. Just below Glarus town, another glen (coming from the south-west) joins the main valley, and is watered by the Klön, while from its head the Pragel Pass (a mule path, converted into a carriage road) leads over to the canton of Schwyz. The Klön glen (uninhabited save in summer) is separated from the main glen by the fine bold mass of the Glärnisch (9580 ft.), while the Sernf valley is similarly cut off from the Grossthal by the high ridge running northwards from the Hausstock (10,342 ft.) over the Kärpfstock (9177 ft.). The principal lakes, the Klönthalersee and the Muttensee, are of a thoroughly Alpine character, while there are several fine waterfalls near the head of the main valley, such as those formed by the Sandbach, the Schreienbach and the Fätschbach. The Pantenbrücke, thrown over the narrow cleft formed by the Linth, is one of the grandest sights of the Alps below the snowline. There is a sulphur spring at Stachelberg, near Linthal village, and an iron spring at Elm, while in the Sernf valley there are the Plattenberg slate quarries, and just south of Elm those of the Tschingelberg, whence a terrific landslip descended to Elm (11th September 1881), destroying many houses and killing 115 persons. A railway runs through the whole canton from north to south past Glarus to Linthal village (16¾ m.), while from Schwanden there is an electric line (opened in 1905) up to Elm (8¾ m.).

In 1900 the population of the canton was 32,349 (a decrease on the 33,825 of 1888, this being the only Swiss canton which shows a decrease), of whom 31,797 were German-speaking, while there were 24,403 Protestants, 7918 Romanists (many in Näfels) and 3 Jews. After the capital, Glarus (q.v.), the largest villages are Näfels (2557 inhabitants), Ennenda (2494 inhabitants, opposite Glarus, of which it is practically a suburb), Netstal (2003 inhabitants), Mollis (1912 inhabitants) and Linththal (1894 inhabitants). The slate industry is now the most important as the cotton manufacture has lately very greatly fallen off, this being the real reason of the diminution in the number of the population. There is little agriculture, for it is a pastoral region (owing to its height) and contains 87 mountain pastures (though the finest of all within the limits of the canton, the Urnerboden, or the Glarus side of the Klausen Pass, belongs to Uri), which can support 8054 cows, and are of an estimated capital value of about £246,000. One of the most characteristic products (though inferior qualities are manufactured elsewhere in Switzerland) is the cheese called Schabzieger, Kräuterkäse, or green cheese, made of skim milk (Zieger or sérac), whether of goats or cows, mixed with buttermilk and coloured with powdered Steinklee (Melilotus officinalis) or blauer Honigklee (Melilotus caerulea). The curds are brought down from the huts on the pastures, and, after being mixed with the dried powder, are ground in a mill, then put into shapes and pressed. The cheese thus produced is ripe in about a year, keeps a long time and is largely exported, even to America. The ice formed on the surface of the Klönthalersee in winter is stored up on its shore and exported. A certain number of visitors come to the canton in the summer, either to profit by one or other of the mineral springs mentioned above, or simply to enjoy the beauties of nature, especially at Obstalden, above the Walensee. The canton forms but a single administrative district and contains 28 communes. It sends to the Federal Ständerath 2 representatives (elected by the Landsgemeinde) and 2 also to the Federal Nationalrath. The canton still keeps its primitive democratic assembly or Landsgemeinde (meeting annually in the open air at Glarus on the first Sunday in May), composed of all male citizens of 20 years of age. It acts as the sovereign body, so that no “referendum” is required, while any citizen can submit a proposal. It names the executive of 6 members, besides the Landammann or president, all holding office for three years. The communes (forming 18 electoral circles) elect for three years the Landrath, a sort of standing committee composed of members in the proportion of 1 for every 500 inhabitants or fraction over 250. The present constitution dates from 1887. (W. A. B. C.)