Kronach- where the "tame rodach" from steinwiesen and the "wild rodach" from wallenfels, near erlabruck, rises the 518 meter high silver mountain. Originally called stiftsberg, it got its name from the silver ore that was once extracted from the depths of the mountain with blood, sweat and tears. Today, thorny shrubs and creepers almost symbolically cover the forest damage caused by the climatic curse and natural disasters of modern times on the steep slopes leading to the federal highway 173.
Along with weaving and flooring, mining was one of the most profitable industries in the franconian forest in earlier times. The mining of existing ores and rocks in the rodach valley is to be continued for the first time in the 13th year. The mining of lead was documented in the sixteenth century, when emperor friedrich II. To bishop heinrich of bamberg the mutation right on silver mines and "underground tithes" lent. However, the colliery does not seem to have taken off until around 1400. Under bishop philipp von henneberg, the mine at the silberberg was leased with all the rights to gold, silver, copper and lead to the miners and mining unions that were gradually formed.
In addition to the actual occurrence of the ores, two other factors were essential for their extraction and useful processing: the forest had to supply the charcoal necessary for processing and the flowing water the power to operate the hammer mills, which broke the ore-bearing rock and crushed it into a form necessary for smelting. The construction of the tunnels was favored by the deep thalers of the franconian forest. As a rule, it was not necessary to construct a vertical entrance shaft. This led from the bottom of the valley horizontally into the mountain.
With the establishment of pits and mines, a mining code was introduced by the sovereign to prevent "wild mining" the miners had to keep the silver content in an orderly manner, to prevent disputes between the mine owners and, last but not least, to ensure a fair share of the proceeds as income for the prince-bishop’s treasury. "Whoever uncovers a sound passage will receive ten guilders reward for discovering silver-bearing ore. When gold is found in the rivers and streams, the proceeds may only be used for the benefit of the bamberg monastery. All embezzlement and misappropriation will be punished with the strictest penalties", it is under threat of the bishopric.
The mines at the wallenfels silver mountain were mainly used to extract secondary lead deposits, which appeared as galena in coarse crystalline form. The silver content was not insignificant. It was about 50 grams per quintal of raw heart. The lead was used for the production of bullets, for the manufacture of household items and for glazing candle plates.
Twelve hours of work in the tunnel
Mining consisted of a pit, a hoe and a hut. In fundigen times the miner worked with his hoe under "spartanischen" conditions twelve hours a day in the mine. The wages were also meager. Three thalers a week were just enough for the bare necessities.
In the pochwerk, the raw heart was crushed by hammers driven by water power. This activity was mostly carried out by the "pochjungen, the children of the miners. From the age of ten, they were introduced to lighter work until they reached the age of 18. The first time she was able to drive into the mountain herself. In the smelter, the ore prepared in the pochwerk was melted with the help of coarse bellows, and the silver was separated in the furnace. For this purpose, charcoal from the numerous coal mines of the franconian forest was used.
"Venetian in the frankenwald
Silver was the most sought-after and most expensive metal after gold. It was not surprising, therefore, that "venetian" was given the name "brown" the first appearance of the "magic" was as early as in the 16th century. Century are mentioned. There were foreign ore and mineral prospectors from south of the alps, most of whom were considered gold seekers. Because of their foreign language and their incomprehensible activities in the mountains, they inspired the creation of legends throughout central europe. They are also attributed magical properties. They are considered to be magical and ghostly aliens and the authors of the so-called "walenbucher", these are presumed descriptions of the way to hidden treasures and rich veins of ore. In an old record it says: "three fields downstream from the erlabrucken is a lead mine, where a hundredweight of rock contains sixty ounces of lead. Men from venice had come out and helped to build it." There are also reports of a subterranean, ratselhafte world. There are reports of secret passages and crevices that lead up to the remschlitz valley. There is even talk of grottos with hidden treasures. Old wallenfelser flobers and woodworkers told of a dwarf who lived in the mountain. The people called him only the "brown silver mountain dwarf".
The name "brown he received, because his doublet and his coat were brown. His hair was as brown as a ripe hazelnut and his beard reached to his knees. His eyes were brown and as gentle as those of a tame doe. The little elf loved to be seen only very rarely. He often helped good and hardworking people, who were in need through no fault of their own, out of their distress.
In general, superstition played a major role among the miners. Not only the mountain spirits, which brought luck to the one and misfortune to the other, moved the people. It was believed that the ore flow could be influenced by magic. In a gallery "under stone meadows towards the geyersmuhle at the end of the village grundlein" a long time ago, a thuringian miner, who was not allowed to enter the mine, had "violated" the mine and the metals transformed into other materials. Who was then accused of "sorcery" the accused miner admitted under torture and "embarrassing interrogation" the accusations made against him in the. The protocol confirms "that it was close to its end".
In 1549 the mine was again at the disposal of the sovereigns. Bishop weigand von redwitz wanted to improve and increase the craftsmanship by building a smelting house, which was closer to the mines and more modern. But the thirty years war (1618 – 1648) brought mining to a standstill for the first time.
In 1729, under bishop franz von schonborn, there is again talk of "new openings with good lead" reports. Despite these successes, a sales crisis seems to have arisen. Disputes and discord over unfulfilled contracts on the part of the authorities also hindered the mining industry. During the seven years’ war (1756 – 1763) mining came to a standstill once again. Gradually the mines fell into disrepair and with the end of the princely rule the "old mining" was abandoned set.
In 1856, thanks to the financing of the barons of kunsberg-langenstadt, a new mine, the "carlszeche", was built, to be driven into the mountain. However, only small traces of mineable ore were found in the 250 meter long tunnels. The treasures from the legendary world also remained undiscovered, so that this enterprise came to a standstill again in 1874.
Last lead for bullets
During the first world war, when lead, important for the production of bullets, became scarce, the silver mine was remembered. In the winter of 1917/18, the mine was closed down and the "carlszeche once again taken under quarrying. With the end of the first world war this last mission also expired.
Since then it has become quiet in the tunnels. The clear mountain water has filled up the pits, the entrances are covered with slope debris and only rarely can one find an opening rough enough to let a man into that subterranean realm where only the "brown silver mountain dwarf" remains lives on in our dreams.