I'm trying to identify this place:

enter image description here enter image description here enter image description here

According to metadata of two of the images they are taken in the Canton of Lucerne, and some other photographs from the same author are claimed or positively identified as having been taken in Switzerland, so I would say that it's likely that the image is from Switzerland, although I would take with a grain of salt the claim that it is from the Canton of Lucerne.

The date is given as between 1880 and 1926 but I think that's only based on the lifespan of the photographer (1858-1926). Furthermore, judging by the aspect of clock, it seems that at least one image was taken on a different date.

Although a rail line runs by the northern banks of the Vierwaldstättersee, I haven't been able to find at the same place a two tracked railway - or a station -, a lake and that mountain, to look for the church there. Neither have I found the church among images of churches in the Canton of Lucerne.

The images are in Wikimedia Commons here, here and here or in its original location here, here and here.

  • 9
    Assuming that the clock time is correct, the position of the shadows indicates that the view of the first picture faces roughly north. (The sun is roughly in the southwest at 2:30 in the afternoon, and the shadows indicate that the sun was over the photographer's left shoulder.) Jul 13, 2020 at 21:03
  • 12
    For those who are interested, the pairs of images are cross-eye stereoscopic pairs.
    – Kevin
    Jul 14, 2020 at 5:29
  • The top image may have been taken with a red filter, to (a) lighten the red clock face and (b) improve contrast on the distant hills - not necessarily on a different date. Jul 14, 2020 at 11:47
  • 1
    @BrianDrummond - Yes, you may be right that it may be the same date, although I think it's not likely taken with a (green) filter but with orthochromatic film, which also renders red as black. That wasn't uncommon in the early days of photography, and carrying orthochromatic and panchromatic plates in the same trip or two different trips doesn't seem strange for an amateur photographer from that time. Mayble the image with the white clock was taken after seeing the result of the other ones and acting in consequence.
    – Pere
    Jul 14, 2020 at 12:07
  • 3
    In 1922 the line was electrified (en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gotthard_railway), so this photo is from before 1922. Unfortunately this fact reduces only 4 year the possible period. Jul 15, 2020 at 9:57

1 Answer 1


Alte Kirche St. Georg und Nikolaus, Flüelen, Canton of Uri, Switzerland

enter image description here (from Wikimedia Commons)

Found by noting the time & direction of shadows, inferring that the view was facing north, looking for lakeshores in Switzerland that run roughly north-south with the lake on the west (there are not a lot of them) and with railroad track running near the shore, and a healthy dose of dumb luck. Note that the lake is in fact Lake Lucerne, but the town is not in the Canton of Lucerne.

It is difficult to recreate the first view on Google Maps, but here is a Street View location showing both the church and the promontory in the distance:

enter image description here

And here it is in the mid-20th century. The road must have been put in some time in the early 20th century.

enter image description here

  • 7
    Great. If I could, I would give an extra +1 for not missing the clock - which only in insight seems obvious and I must admit that I haven't used it in my search.
    – Pere
    Jul 13, 2020 at 22:38
  • 2
    For anyone interested, here you can find the official maps from the Swiss confederation going 150 years back. From these maps it seems like the road was probably constructed around 1961-1962.
    – baccandr
    Jul 14, 2020 at 14:15
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    @baccandr I was reading here: issuu.com/baumannfryberg.ch/docs/fluelen_broschuere_750_jahre (page 69-70) - in the 1950s it was originally planned to demolish the church to make way for the road, but there was a local campaign against this and so it was built on part of the train tracks instead. Jul 14, 2020 at 18:37
  • 3
    @JoeStevens: Glad that didn't happen, or I never would have found it! Jul 14, 2020 at 19:52
  • 6
    @MichaelSeifert That's going to be my new argument for not demolishing historic buildings: "Knocking down this building could really complicate place identification questions from photos in a century or so."
    – reirab
    Jul 15, 2020 at 15:23

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