521 meters above sea level
2481 inhabitants (as per 1.1.2016)
The village at the confluence of the rivers Linth and Sernf is the center of the Glarus Hinterland. The hamlet of Thon, located at the raised west side of the village, is still remainded in the ancient settlement structure and was an autonomous village until 1876. The Freiberg Kärpf rises South of Schwanden. It is the oldest hunting ban area of Switzerland and was established in 1548. In the West, the municipality stretches over the Guppenalp to the Vrenelisgärtli (2903 meters above sea level).
Scanty findings from the area come from Celtic and Roman times. The name of the village has but to bring its origin in the old high German word swanta, which means something like to disappear. Similar to the names of the village district Rüti or Grüt the word Schwanden leads back to forest clearing. The first written mention of the place perhaps represents a document that was been dated with the year 1240. A Henricus de Swando appears in it as a witness. His baronial family probably claimed the Castle Benzingen, which stood on the moraine at the northern entrance of the village. In any case, the castle was built in the 13th century and was evacuated after a few decades. According to Ägidius Tschudi Scriptures 'Chronicon Helveticum' the castle Benzingen fell as a possession of Baron Burkhard of Schwanden together with the castle of Sola nearby Mitlödi in 1298 by the Austrians. 1304 a Baron Burkhard of Schwanden led in his seal a standing Swan. Do we have here the origin of the municipal coat of arms in front of us? Anyway, other members of the same noble clan with proven close contacts to the Linth valley wore two swan necks as crest, so the Counts of Rapperswil. The brick portion of the oldest surviving house, the Turehuus in Thon comes from the same time.
Schwanden was by the end of the 15th to the 18th century a so-called great Tagwen. A fountain figure with raised hand of the oath reminds in the "Landsgemeindehoschet" that betwen 1448-1623 (sometimes in the Däniberg) the ordinary Landsgemeinde (Cantonal assembly) were held in Schwanden and from 1623-1837 the one of the Protestants, each with a week before the joint one with the Catholics were held in Glarus. 1757 the Pulverturm (powder tower), now a local museum, was built for the Protestants in Schwanden. A sign of sectarian clashes flaring up.
Schwanden beloged previously to the church of Glarus. 1349 Schwanden built its own church, which for the time being has been a subsidiary of Glarus. From 1528 the church was used by the Catholics as well as by the Protestants. However, 1558 the mass was abolished. Since the early modern times, the villages Sool and Schwändi, which were affiliated with the Wahltagwen (political citizen's community) Mitlödi as well as Haslen (including Leu and Zusingen), which were part of the Wahltagwen Betschwanden, as well as Nidfurn and Luchsingen (until 1752), belonged to the Evangelical parish of Schwanden. In 1753, the old church was considerably enlarged by the brothers Jacob and Hans Ulrich Grubenmann. In 1895, the Catholics dedicated their newly built church, which they replaced in 1973 by a new building.
Immediately south of the reformed church, the original nucleus of the village must have been situated. The oldest block building of the municipality and the Canton Glarus, from the first half of the 15th century and with magnificent wall paintings, is to admire today in the Rysläuferhus (now a Museum) at the Weibelplatz in Schwanden. The mercenary business played an important role in the village, in addition to the production and the export of weapons, as well as the trade in tea or Ziger (local green cheese).
Already in the 14th century, the livestock farming had won in importance. Horses and cows were bred in Schwanden and sold to Zurich and later especially to North Italy. Numerous large stone houses bear witness to the wealth which was brought by the trade and the mercenary business to the leading families of Schwanden in the late Middle Ages: The Rothaus (built in the first half of the 16th century), the Hoschethaus (1545) or the upper Blumerhaus (1558).
1525 an iron-ore plant was opened at Guppen, but was given up after about 30 years. In the 17th century, the inhabitants of Schwanden mainly wove half-woolen fabrics, so-called Mäzzen, manufactured slate tables and panels and traded with woolen stockings and caps. A dye factory was built in 1680. In 1701, 278 Evangelical Schwandener men were counted. In 1740, Peter Blumer introduced the cotton mill based on the publishing system. Some 25 years later, Schwanden counted already around 1150 inhabitants.
In 1799, the retreating Russians and Austrians under General Suworow fought fierce battles with following French troops in Schwanden and Sool. After war years of crisis, industrialization began between 1820 and 1830 with the foundation of a spinning mill, the later Textil AG (in existence until 1989), the textile printing plant Blumer (in existence until 1980) as well as a red dyeing and printing plant of the entrepreneur family Tschudi in Herren. In addition the still existing brewery Adler (Eagle) was founded. Finally, a lime kiln was built in the 19th century at the northern edge of the town. As an example, the municipal house and a former factory owner villa bear witness to the wealth of textile industrialists. Up to the year 1850, the number of inhabitants of Schwanden had risen to almost 2300; 50 years later, it was even less than 2400.
In the 1830s several municipal facilities emerged, so in 1830 the secondary school, from 1838 with its own schoolhouse, and 1834 a town savings bank. A second schoolhouse was built in 1896. Late 1839, 200 inhabitants subscribed shares of a bakery. In 1853, a company pension fund was created for the workers and employees of the textile printing plants. To speed up the introduction of the cantonal factory act (1864), the first factory worker`s association of the canton was established 1863 in Schwanden. In 1864, the textile manufacturer Jean Jenny-Riffel founded in Schwanden the first Swiss consumer cooperative.
In 1879, Schwanden was connected to the Nordostbahn (northeastern railway). Eduard Blumer (1848-1925), was one of the most important Schwander. He was 38 years Landammann in Glarus, also President of the National Council and Councillor of States. During his government in the last decade of the 19th century, the Schwandener citizens agreed to three large public projects: the Guppen gully lining (1891-1904), the establishing of a water supply facility (1893) and the construction of the power station on the Niederenbach (1897). Since 1929, it works closely with the then founded power plants Sernf-Niederenbach AG, which built in the 1930s the dam for the barrier lake of Garichte on Mettmen. In 1905, the electric Sernftalbahn started its operation between Schwanden and Elm (in 1969 it was replaced by a bus operation). Therma AG, an electrical apparatus factory, has existed since 1907. In recent years, production facilities for plastics, metal products and steel construction were established in the industrial area of Tschachen. To a printer and a Web sheet factory come in other locations. At the beginning of the 1960s lived over 3000 people in the village. In addition, a printing factory and a factory for reed production was built. At the beginning of the 1960s over 3000 people lived in the village.
Constructions of regional importance such as the old-age and nursing home, the upper class schoolhouse, the swimming pool located on the Linth, and more sports facilities set new priorities. Important tasks for the community are the maintenance of the extensive mountain forests (major storm damages in 1990).
In 2011, the community structure of canton Glarus was reorganized and Schwanden became part of the new administrative community Glarus Süd.
Translation of the official website of Schwanden
The Protestant Church of Schwanden
(built 1349 / restored 1753)
The cemetery of Schwanden with Glärnisch and Vorder Glärnisch in the background