Nittmann's Mine IV

GPS: 49°49'22.739"N 17°42'56.581"E – map


Mining at the site began first with so-called Onderka's adit. Later, when the mine grew, an inclined slope was dug. Looking down into the inclined slope, we can see it has a funnel-like shape with a 6x6 m hole at a depth of 20 m. This is where begins the 35 m deep, almost vertical shaft leading to the third, lowest level of the mine. At that level, tunnels and chambers connect all three inclined slopes of the mine. At the bottom of the third level, there is flowing water, which is in some places even 1 m deep. Though raises and connecting tunnels, it is also possible to access other areas of the underground system. At the mouth of the shaft, at the bottom of the inclined slope, there is a short adit heading north. On the right side of the inclined slope, there is a visible entry to an excavated chamber which is now filled with rock fill. West from that chamber leads a horizontal adit, which after about 30 meters dramatic turns right to the north, ended by a cave-in after about 50 m. There used to be an engine room on the surface near the inclined slope which pulled out extracted material from the mine though a wooden structure placed on the slate-covered surface of the inclined slope. The still-standing slate walls are what has remained of the former mine's administrative building 


The earliest primitive oil lamps, i.e. stone bowls (or bowls made of shells of sea creatures) filled with vegetable oil with a burning wooden stick as a wick, date back to the Bronze Age about twelve thousand years ago. It is paradoxical that with minor improvements these lamps were used in slate mines until the 1970s.

There are no explosive gases in slate mines, and therefore miners could safely use an open fire down in mines. First, it was oil mine lamps and open or closed lamps with a hook. Later, miners began to use acetylene carbide lamps. Especially in coal mining, where explosions were quite frequent, it was necessary to develop a safety lamp. The Davy safety lamp was invented in 1815, and it created conditions for further development of the mining industry. With its cylindrical shape, the lamp has become one of the symbols of mining.



It is a simple dish-shaped lamp with a circular base and a flat bottom filled with oil or fat.



Acetylene lamps (carbide lamps) have a water container in its upper part. In the lower part, where there is a container with carbide, it is connected by a drip needle. The amount of water flowing into the lower part is regulated by a special screw. Water reacts with carbide to form acetylene gas, which then escapes into the nozzle to be combusted and shine as a white flame. The ability to regulate the lamp enabled miners to have enough light from a single lamp for the entire shift. In places where miners knocked out burned mass from their lamps, there were quantities of white powder – calcium hydroxide. It is interesting that the slate mine Nové Těchanovice (Pollak's adit) still used carbide lamps even in the 60s. Calcium carbide CaC2 (formerly calcium acetylide) easily reacts with water to produce acetylene (C2H2) and calcium hydroxide (Ca(OH)2) and therefore found use in mining.



Only after 1970, electric lamps were introduced in slate mines in the Nízký Jeseník. The reason why it took so long was mostly too slow modernization of the local underdeveloped slate mines. Also, carbide lamps at that time still produced much brighter light than electric lamps, and their weight was also considerably smaller. While the first electric lamps weighted as much as 4 kg, carbide lamps only about 1.3 kg. 

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