Besucherbergwerk Wetzsteinstollen


Useful Information

Location: From Sulzbach an der Murr towards Spiegelberg, after 3.4 km turn left, after 2 km turn right to Jux. Parking at the junction, 150 m/5 minutes walk to the mine.
(49.021385, 9.433293)
Open: MAY to SEP 1st + 3rd Sun, Hol 13:30-16.
[2022]
Fee: Adults EUR 3, Children (0-16) frei.
[2022]
Classification: SubterraneaRock Mine
Light: LightIncandescent Electric Light System
Dimension:
Guided tours: D=90 min, L=40 m.
Photography: allowed
Accessibility: yes
Bibliography:
Address: Manfred Schaible, Projektleiter und Führungen, Sulzbacher Straße 2, 71579 Spiegelberg, Tel: +49-7194-8422. 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

1597 Field name Wetzsteinklinge mentioned for the first time.
1825 Royal forestry administration prohibits "wild digging for whetstones" and levies a considerable fee.
1825 Upper quarry opened.
1847 Abandoned and Lower Quarry opened.
1854 Whetstone makers' cooperative founded.
1879 Whetstone-grade stratum wedges out and quarry is abandoned.
1880 New quarry opened.
1885 Underground mining begins.
1905 Production temporarily stopped.
31-MAR-1911 Whetstone production ceases.
1922 Mining authority orders closure of the adit after two serious accidents during blasting.
2001 Mouth hole located.
2002 The tunnel is excavated.
30-SEP-2012 Visitor mine opened.
2013 Electric light installed.

Geology

Whetstone-suitable rock is relatively rare, other occurrences are in Thuringia and Unterammergau. It is a 30 cm to 100 cm thick layer of siliceous sandstone, a very silicate-rich sandstone or quartzite. Necessary properties are fine and uniform grain, mechanical strength and hardness, as well as a good grinding effect.

Description

The Besucherbergwerk Wetzsteinstollen (Wetzsteinstollen show mine) is probably unique in Europe. Since the Middle Ages, siliceous sandstone has been quarried here and processed into whetstones for sharpening scythes. This is how the name Wetzsteinstollen came about. The Wetzstein was first mentioned in writing in 1597 in the form of the field name Wetzsteinklinge, at that time the woods called Juxwald belonged to the monastery in Steinheim. Later, the village of Jux was founded by woodcutters and charcoal burners who earned extra money by producing and selling whetstones. Around 1800, farmers from Jux took over whetstone making as a sideline. In 1825, however, the royal forestry administration forbade "wild digging for whetstones" and levied a fee. The fee for each "newly dug hole" was 1 guilder, at that time a week's wages. The Jux municipal council then decided to run a communal quarry. They took over the lease and employed two slab crushers, financing this by selling slabs suitable for quarrying for a previously fixed price of "3 kreuzer per square shoe".

In the course of the 19th century, the Upper Quarry was operated first, then the Lower Quarry was opened, and when this was exhausted, another quarry was opened. However, this was on a steep slope and so after a few years the quarrying, which followed the Wetzstein, was done underground. But the quarrymen were not miners, and the whetstone was not valuable enough for mining. So safety measures were skimped on and accidents happened again and again. Even the demands of the mining authorities or the recommendations of chief miner Köhle from Wasseralfingen were only partially implemented. Eventually, there were no more workers willing to mine Wetzstein and in 1905 production was temporarily stopped. A grant from the "royal poor fund" reactivated mining for a short time, but due to the simultaneous drop in the price of Wetzstein, the mine was finally closed in 1911.

But a little later, during the First World War, it was reopened. The import of whetstones from Milan was no longer possible due to the war, and so demand and the price rose. Mining flourished, but after two serious accidents during blasting, the mining authority ordered the closure of the mine in 1922.

The demand for whetstones was great until after the Second World War; they were used to sharpen scythes and sickles when cutting grass or grain. The Juxer whetstone makers worked together with a trader from Schweinfurt who took over the distribution. At the mine, whetstone blanks and ready-to-use whetstones can still be bought today.