Tarnowskie Góry - Historic Silver Mine and Adit of the "Black Trout", Tarnowskie Góry
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Tarnowskie Góry - Historic Silver Mine and Adit of the "Black Trout"

Tarnowskie Góry

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The first reference to ore mining in the Tarnowskie Góry region comes from a papal bull of Innocent II dating from 1136. The extraction of ores from the present-day territories of Tarnowskie Góry (more precisely in the vicinity of Repty Śląskie) is recorded in a document issued in 1247 by Duke Władysław Opolski. Contemporary mining of silver, lead and zinc is linked to the discovery in 1490 of large, silver-rich galena deposits, which led to the development of mining and the local mining village. In 1526 Tarnowskie Góry was awarded the status of a free mining town, and in 1528, John II the Good, Duke of Opole, issued an ordinance known as the Ordunek Górny, granting the town a series of mining privileges. At the same time a mining authority was also established, its seal and coat-of-arms eventually becoming the town’s coat-of-arms. The Reformation found many supporters here; its consolidation came after the death of John II the Good (1532), when the town passed under the rule of the House of Hohenzollern.

By the mid-16th century Tarnowskie Góry was the largest ore mining centre in Upper Silesia and one of the largest in Europe. Estimates suggest that at that time there were around 7500 staple pits, and seven drainage adits. By the latter half of the 17th century the deposits had been exhausted and the mine was abandoned. In 1787 a rich new deposit of galena ore was discovered and, on the initiative of Friedrich Wilhelm von Reden, director of the State Mining Authority in Wrocław, the Friedrichsgrube State Mine was founded (its name was later changed to Kościuszko). Reden was also responsible for establishing a coal mine and the Königshütte Foundry - leading to the creation of a town by the name of Królewska Huta (now Chorzów) - as well as the Luiza Colliery in Zabrze. In 1793 Reden invited the engineer John Baildon, regarded as the father of modern metallurgy, to Upper Silesia. Those deposits at Tarnowsie Góry which lay below water-bearing strata demanded effective drainage in order to be excavated. To this end Reden ordered a steam engine (the first in the region) to be brought over from England and installed in 1788, thus making Tarnowskie Góry one of the most modern mining plants. In 1803 the town’s first mining school was opened. Several years later the new FriedrichAdit was excavated. A fraternity known as the Spółka Bracka was founded 1857. It was an institution providing insurance for miners; after its division it became Poland’s largest social insurance company of the interwar period.

A reminder of the old Tarnowskie Góry mines remains in the form of a vast underground labyrinth of pits, corridors, chambers and galleries stretching over a total of c. 150 km. This example of historic ore mining is unique in Europe. Permission to open the mine to the public was granted in 1938, though it was 20 years later that the first visitors were welcomed. In 1957 the first part of the mine made accessible to tourists was a 600-metre-long section of the Friedrich adit known as the Black Trout Adit(Sztolnia Czarnego Pstrąga), between the Ewa (1826) and Sylwester (1828) Shafts, and in 1976 the trail was extended to include the Anioł, Żmija and Szczęść Boże Shafts. A lift takes visitors down to a depth of 40.5 m. The visit includes a boat ride along a 270-metre-long section of the tourist trail.

When ore extraction ceased at the Tarnowskie Góry mine it gained another asset in addition to its indisputable historic merits. The empty chambers and galleries provided favourable conditions for the development of habitats capable of supporting cave fauna, hence they now constitute one of the largest bat hibernation sites in Poland. The mine has become a research ground for investigations into organisms colonising sheltered mineral deposit sites.

General information

  • Type: technical monument
  • Chronology: koniec XV - pocz. XX w.
  • Form of protection: history monument
  • Address: Szczęść Boże 81, Tarnowskie Góry
  • Location: Voivodeship śląskie, district tarnogórski, commune Tarnowskie Góry
  • Source: National Heritage Board of Poland

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