Crossing the Ruess River that cascades through the Schöllenen Gorge was once no easy task, and was often even fatal to those who tried to forge across the torrents. So in 1230 a wooden bridge was constructed, and while that is now long gone and two bridges have been built to take its place, these have all guarded the title of Teufelsbrücke, or Devil’s Bridge.
Occult legends aside, crossing that 13th century bridge was likely terrifying on its own as it shook several hundred feet over the water, or got terrifying close to the water when the river was full. The wooden bridge was heavily damaged in the Napoleonic Wars and later replaced in the 1820s, a structure that still stands alongside another more sturdy bridge built in the 1950s. All are rather frightening to drive over for their height in the Swiss mountains.
So where does the devil come in? Well, it’s said that in the 13th century the villagers from nearby Andermatt found it to be an impossible task and enlisted the help of the devil. As it goes with getting a devil architect, he demanded the soul of the first to cross. The townspeople sent a scared goat over to outwit him. Enraged, the devil grabbed a massive stone and was about to destroy the bridge when an old woman with a cross stopped him and he dropped it. The stone is actually still around near Göschenen, although it had to be relocated for a rather huge sum of money in 1977 for a new highway.
More likely is that a bridge at such height over the raging river is just unsettling in itself, but for good measure someone once added a couple of painted frolicking devils to the tunnel at its opposite side.