Hem trading via the Felbertauern formed the basis for the economic development of Mittersill as a trade and transport hub. Thus the place developed from a hem-station to a market and subsequently to a city. Hemming has a centuries-old tradition and contributes to the identity of the Tauern region.
Felbertauern has been used since prehistoric times as a main Alpine ridge between Mittersill and Matrei in East Tyrol. Due to its low pass height of 2,481 m, it was already one of the most heavily used Alpine crossings in the Neolithic, Bronze Age and Roman period. The Tauern transitions played an important role in Salzburg's economic development in the Middle Ages. At the Tauern crossings throughout the Middle Ages there was no wagon traffic, only hem traffic. Hemming was an important secondary farming activity, and the towns of Windisch-Matrei and Mittersill also benefited. The most important commodity from the north was salt, from the south "Venice goods" (velvet, silk, spices, tropical fruits, tobacco) and especially wine. Caravans of 20-30 horses pulled over the Tauern. They were joined by merchants, weavers, artisans, "jäterinnen", postmen. Cattle were also driven in larger parts.
The name hemmer is derived from the name hem. The hem was the amount of goods that a pack animal could transport. A horse's hem were three hundredweight (56 kg each = 168 kg). As pack animals Pinzgauer Noriker were used. Each horse had two layers (longer barrels, from the Latin "lagena" = bottle) of wine or brandy, which hung on both sides of the saddle. But also other goods were packed, such as pine bowls, blankets, golter, carpets from Defereggen. For salt transport, the horse was loaded with two salt domes called Fuder.On average, the pack shoots covered about 35 km a day. The expansion of mule tracks on lower passes to roads and new geopolitical orders brought mule tracks to a standstill and had only regional and local significance. The Hohe Tauern presenting not only divisive, but always also unifying. The exchange between North and South formed the basis for economic and cultural development in Central Europe. Especially Mittersill has benefited from this connection over the Felbertauern throughout history and has thus developed into an economic and cultural centre.
Barbara Loferer-Lainer Msc