Nittmann's Mine I

GPS: 49°49'27.840"N 17°42'58.859"E – map


Following the sale of the mines to Count Arz von Wasseg in the 1850s, Josef Nittmann embarked on another project. He bought plot No. 850 from a farmer from Zálužné which stretched over a slate deposit just above the centre of the village. In the middle of that land was desolate plot No. 849, a slate rock rising to the surface. Geologist Dionýz Štůr mentions it in his work from 1866: "The outcrop of the Zálužné deposit is made of a sharp ridge in an otherwise round surrounding terrain. This fact suggests that the local slate has very good durability and resistance to weathering as this ridge is only very little weathered. It is very likely that the bedrock of the local slate deposit, intersected by existing shafts, could also be mined." And this is where Nittmann began digging the adit. It had a length of approximately 100 m, and at the end there was – about 20 meters below the surface – a chamber forming the first level of the mine. Because the deposit was very rich and stretched to considerable depths, it was decided it would be opened with a funnel-shaped slope, which is where you are standing now. Looking into the mine, on the opposite side of the inclined slope, there are visible slate layers, from which the deposit is composed of. At the bottom of the slope, you can see a hole – measuring about 6x7 m – which opens an almost perpendicular, about 50 m deep shaft leading down to the second level of the mine. Underneath it, about 35 meters below, lies the third level.



Initially, slate was mined by hand. Miners used picks, hammers, hoes, pickaxes, chisel, and hand drills. Later, also gunpowder was used. Mines were first illuminated with oil lamps and later with carbide lamps. In slate mines, there was no danger of mine gases, and so miners could use an open flame. Underground, miners climbed up and down on ladders. Also, they used vertical holes (called transfer raises) with wooden ladders located between the mine's levels. Slate was mined in chambers. After an adit was dug (a cross-cut) and a good-quality deposit reached, miners usually created a chamber of up to 20 m long, 4 – 20 m wide (depending on the thickness of the mined deposit), and 16 – 21 m high.



In the horizontal adits, extracted slate was transported on rails by mining cars. Then, the raw material was pulled up though a vertical shaft up to the surface. At first, this was done using a hand winch. When extracting from greater depths, the winch was driven by horses or oxen. In the second half of the 19th century, steam engines were introduced for this purpose. Cars loaded with slate were driven to the so-called shaft station, where adits of individual levels joined the mine's shaft. Here, cars were put on a wooden platform mounted on the ropes. The platform was then pulled up to the surface on an ingeniously designed wooden construction. On the surface, cars were then distributed to individual workplaces to be further processed. The same procedure was applied in this very mine. 


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