Grube Gustav

Gustav Pit

Useful Information

Location: Near Abterode in the Höllental (hell valley).
A7 exit Kassel, B7 towards Erfurt, turn left to Germerode and Abterode, at the road to Albungen.
(51.222988, 9.951637)
Open: 15-MAR to OCT Wed-Sun, Hol 13-16.
Tours on the full hour, depending on demand.
Fee: Adults EUR 8, Children (3-14) EUR 6.
Groups (15+): Adults EUR 7.50, Children (3-14) EUR 5.50.
Classification: MineCopper Mine MineBaryte Mine
Light: LightLED Lighting LightColoured Light
Dimension: T=10 °C, H=90-95 %.
Guided tours: D=60 min, Min=6, MinAge=6.
V=9789/a [1997].
Photography: allowed
Accessibility: yes
Address: Reservations: Tel.: +49-5657-7500. E-mail:
Tourist Information Eschwege- Meißner - Meinhard - Wanfried, Hospitalplatz 16, D-37269 Eschwege, Tel: +49-5651-331985 or +49-5651-331986, Fax: +49-5651-50291. E-mail: contact
As far as we know this information was accurate when it was published (see years in brackets), but may have changed since then.
Please check rates and details directly with the companies in question if you need more recent info.


1497 beginning of mining.
1538 Schmelzhütte (copper furnace) first mentioned.
1850 Copper shale mining in the Höllental comes to an and.
1897 Start of open pit mining of barite.
1928 Barite mining is moved underground.
1957 spectacular rescue of two miners after a collapse.
1968 mining finally ends.
1986 opened to the public.
2020 LED light installed.


In the Höllental (hell valley) Kupferschiefer (copper bearing slate) was mined for its copper. But there are also one to six meters thick layers of barite. Barite or barium sulfate (BaSO4) was used to produce paint. It was mined during the first half of the 20th century, first in an opencast, then underground.

After the area was land about 270 million years ago, subsidence occurred and large parts of Europe were flooded by the Zechstein Sea. Copper-bearing waters deposited a rather thin layer of copper-bearing mud in large parts of this sea, which solidified to form Kupferschiefer (copper shale). The copper shale is thus a sedimentary deposit. It has been mined for copper in many areas of Germany, mainly because it is usually covered by thick layers of anhydrite and salt, which are easy to mine. The basin of the Zechstein Sea was cut off from the ocean and the seawater evaporated, depositing the contained salts depending on their solubility. This resulted in series of limestone, anhydrite, and salt.

After the Zechstein period, the area was uplifted again. In the process, cracks formed in the rock, but here there was also the formation of a fissure up to 6 m wide, an open fissure in the earth. Rising mineral-rich waters of high temperature, probably around 300 °C, brought barium and sulfur compounds with them and deposited them on the surface in the fissure as it cooled. The barite is thus a hydrothermal deposit.


The village Abterode has a long mining history. Since the 16th century Kupferschiefer (copper bearing slate) was mined. But the mining was labor-intensive and with increasing payroll costs and decreasing copper price, it ended soon.

At the beginning of the 20th century the mine was reactivated. The once worthless rocks called barite became a valuable raw material.

At the end of the 19th century, however, the mine was then reactivated, the barite, which had previously been considered numb rock, was now valuable raw material. Mining began in the open pit, which is much cheaper, but was moved underground in 1928. The barite was mined to a depth of 88 m with a technology called Firstenstoßbau on three deep levels. The mine has a total of five levels, two drift levels and three deep levels. The barite was hauled up a shaft to the top level and then carried out of the mine on this level. The lower four levels are underwater, the uppermost one was developed into a show mine. The chamber, which once contained the elevator machinery is today used as an underground museum. Minerals and rocks of the area, old and new mining machinery are on display.