Kalkbergwerk am Königsberg


Useful Information

Location: Hauptstrasse 48, 67752 Wolfstein.
At the entrance to the small town of Wolfstein. B270, 24 km north of Kaiserslautern, 10 km south of Lauterecken.
(49.581436, 7.612213)
Open: End MAR to early NOV Sun, Hol 13-18.
[2023]
Fee: Adults EUR 7, Children EUR 6, Families (2+*) EUR 18.50.
[2023]
Classification: MineLimestone Quarries and Mine
Light: LightIncandescent Electric Light System
Dimension: T=13 °C.
Guided tours: D=90 min, L=300 m.
Photography: allowed
Accessibility: yes
Bibliography: Georg Wieber (2002): Ground Water in Abandoned Mercury Mines: A Study from the Saar-Nahe Basin in Southwestern Germany, Mine Water and the Environment volume 21, pages 73–80 (2002). DOI pdf English
Address: Kalkbergwerk am Königsberg, Hauptstrasse 48, 67752 Wolfstein, Tel: +49-6382-791-118. E-mail:
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.

History

1857 limestone mining started by the brothers Jakob and Peter Kappel.
1911 purchase of the exploitation rights of today's visitor mine.
1967 end of limestone mining.

Geology

The Pfälzer Bergland is part of the Northern French scarplands, which is part of a basin in which Mesozoic sediments were deposited. The first volcanism already occurred during the basin formation, in the Upper Carboniferous and Lower Permian (Rotliegend). Later they were uplifted and retrograde erosion resulted in the typical structure with escarpments. In the Palatinate, the strata were eroded down to the Buntsandstein, in some cases even to the Zechstein. The variety of mineral resources found here is also a consequence of the volcanism associated with the formation of the Upper Rhine Graben in the Palaeogene. Basalt and rhyolite were formed, but there were also hydrothermal convections that formed sulphide ores. There are coal deposits in the Carboniferous strata.

Description

The Kalkbergwerk am Königsberg (Königsberg limestone mine) is located at Königsberg (568 m asl) in Wolfstein, where mining has been carried out since Roman times. However, the heyday of mining was in the 17th and 18th centuries. Iron ore, mercury, hard coal and limestone were mined. This is quite an unusual combination, yet the mines have long since been abandoned. The last was the limestone mine, last operated by Otto Kappel Kalk, mining ceased in 1967. It is therefore sometimes referred to as the Kalkbergwerk Kappel (Kappel limestone mine).

The brothers Jakob and Peter Kappel began mining limestone as early as 1857, but in the Selbach. Heinrich Kappel bought this mine in 1911 for 5,000 gold marks, together with the exploitation rights. How long it had been in operation before then is unknown. In the 1950s, the mine still employed six to seven people and produced 40 tonnes of burnt lime a week. But profitability was soon severely affected by cheaper production in large quarries. In the end, only Otto Kappel worked alone in his operation and produced 8 tonnes of burnt lime a week. Already in the early 1960s he had the vision of a show mine. He secured the mine to facilitate its development into an exhibition mine. However, it took until the 1980s before it was actually opened as a show mine.

The limestone mine in Wolfstein is an industrial monument with various buildings. A museum displays equipment and machinery, and a film provides information about mining history. The underground tour begins with a ride on the mine train, followed by a tour of the galleries. As in natural caves, the limestone is dissolved by the dripping water and deposited in cavities, and so small dripstones have already formed in the last century. Fissures in the limestone are often filled with dripstones or calcite crystals. The equipment that was used to quarry and transport the limestone is also on display. The underground tour with a length of 300 m has no steps, so it is wheelchair accessible. The only hurdle to the tour is therefore getting on and off the mine train.

Events are also held in the mine. Underground wine tastings are held regularly - after all, the Palatinate Mountains are a wine-growing region. There are also music events and even the musical Phantom of the Opera was performed underground.