Sunday, September 12, 2010

Funding Suchard's Steam Boat


Philippe Suchard
(1797-1884) who is known the world over as a Swiss chocolate maker, was also a great industrialist.

After a trip to the United States in 1824-1825, where he viewed the effectiveness of American Steam Boat travel, he set upon bringing the same mode of transport to Neuchâtel. In 1834 he had a boat built in Paris and called it "L'industriel." The Steam boat enterprise that he brought to the lake of Neuchâtel was funded by the local government along with the private assistance of the Count of Gorgier, Louis de Pourtales and by my ancestor the Baron of Vaumarcus, Albert de Büren.

"Philippe Suchard did not confine himself to improving chocolate. In 1834 he brought the first iron steam ship to Lake Neuchatel, the Industriel, and followed this up the next year with a steam ship on Lake Thun. His experience with shipping led him to back projects to regulate the rivers of the Jura region, which had the effect of lowering the levels of Lakes Biel, Murten and Neuchatel and putting an end to centuries of flooding. (The newly created shoreline also helped reveal the Celtic settlement of La Tène dating back to around 450 BC, one of the most important archaeological finds ever made in Switzerland.)" – Courtesy of Swissworld.org

Suchard's "L'industriel" © Museum of Art and History, Neuchâtel

It makes sense that my ancestor would take part in local affairs, but the more I read, the greater my respect builds for Albert de Büren. He not only focused on Botany and Science but invested his time, energy and money in what would improve the quality of life for the Canton as a whole.

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