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Adits and minerals
Adits lead into the underground region of the mine. The adit mouth is the visible entrance to this mysterious world. For the majority of people they have something mystical. For a long time it has been believed that inside the earth lies the realm of the dwarves, who watch over its treasures here.
For the workers, on the other hand, who enter the mine day after day through the mouth hole, going down into the mountain means the beginning of work that is as strenuous as it is dangerous. The Friedrichssegen mine has a total of eight galleries and six shafts. The total length of the underground tunnel system is more than 20 km. The largest shaft reaches a depth of 484 meters.
Mining was carried out in the second half of the 19th century using the most modern equipment. Starting in 1861, the Carl adit is driven into the mountain over a distance of 232 meters. The crushed ore is transported to the surface by trench hoists, the miners' transport trucks. Pumps ensure that the haulage roadways do not fill up with mine water. When the mine railroad running through the Hüttental valley was built in 1880, the adit was even given its own spur track so that the ore could be transported efficiently for further processing.
Inside the galleries, the peculiar beauty of the underground world is revealed. The economic interest is focused on the extraction of the gangue ores. These were formed about 360 million years ago during the folding of the Rhenish Slate Mountains, when water enriched with metals rose in fissures in the rock at high temperatures. During the subsequent cooling, they deposited the minerals on the walls of the cavities. This is how the deposits of lead, silver, zinc, iron and copper were formed, which are mined in Friedrichssegen.
But time and again, rare minerals come to the surface of the rock, often presenting themselves to the trained eye of the miners in the pit light in dazzling colors and bizarre shapes. These are secondary minerals, formed selectively by weathering and transformation of the original metal compounds on the rock surface. More than one hundred different minerals have been found in the Friedrichssegen mine.
World-famous are the Emser Tönnchen consisting of hexagonal brown lead ore crystals (pyromorphite), which line cavities in the rock here in special number and quality.
After the end of mining, new inhabitants move into the tunnels. The artificial caves serve as a habitat for many animals that lead a life without light here. Not least to protect hibernating bats, the tunnel mouth is barred.