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From Mill Wheel to Textile Industry

Do you see the weir and the factory beyond the bridge?  Here on the bank of the Thur the first mechanical spinnery in Toggenburg was established in 1816 using water power. Followed by an embroidery factory and one producing coloured cloth.

Earlier in the 15th and 16th centuries, some inhabitants of the Toggenburg had been producing Garn and fabrics as home working or on contract. A large industry evolved from these small beginnings and Toggenburg produced cloth was coveted for export to Asia and Africa.

International competition in recent years made production in Lichtensteig unprofitable with the result that factories closed, workers lost their jobs and moved away from the town.

The resulting exodus led to a loss of revenue for the council, restaurants, shops, bars, banks and insurance companies closed down. The infrastructure suffered as money was not available for its upkeep, many buildings in the Old Town fell into disrepair but Lichtensteig has recovered by the use of its own strength.

Photo.1: Weaving cellar ca, 1890

Photo.2: Cloth produced by the Staehelin Fine Weaving Company who had a factory downstream from Lichtensteig for export to Zanzibar for example