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Raab's Mines

GPS: 49°49'1.499"N 17°42'40.561"E – map


MINES IN THE VALLEY OF THE HORNÍK BROOK

In a place called "Hornigsgrund" in the valley of the Horník brook near Staré Těchanonice, there are still extant heaps of mined slate. They come from the mines opened by a citizen of Staré Těchonovice Johann Raab. In the late 19th and in the first half of the 20th century, the Horník brook – flowing through a valley called Hornigsgrund – acquired its Czech-German name "Hornigsbach" (Miners' brook). The name refers to the fact that miners used to work in the valley. Slate mining took place in the western slope of the valley, where there is a slate deposit just below the surface of the hill. In two, sometimes even three levels, tunnels of Raab's slate mines still run inside the valley slopes at regular intervals.

 

SEVEN TUNNELS

We are now standing on heaps of extracted and further unused material. Above the brook level, seven short horizontal tunnels were dug. Extraction of the local slate deposit was initiated in 1873 by Johann Raab, owner of the farm No. 54 in Staré Těchanovice and a tenant in the local municipal inn. In his slate mines (called "grunds"), Raab employed mainly local farmers. However, by then they had only tilled their fields and known nothing of work in underground mines. Despite, mining meant some extra money for these mostly poor people.

 

MINES AND CASUALTIES

When working in the local mines, it was not unusual when somebody died or at least got seriously injured, both due to carelessness and lack of experience. Between 1873 and 1888, six miners died in the local mines.

 

JOHANN RAAB

Due to frequent accidents and strong competition posed by the far better organized Nittmann's Mine, Johann Raab shut down his mines in 1888. However, he still remained publicly active. Already in 1888, he was one of the five founding members of the community volunteer firefighters in Staré Těchanovice and was also elected its first commander. A year later, he became a member of the first board of the local community savings and credit union called "Reifeisenkasse".


EARNINGS AND PRICES

Throughout the 19th century, slate mining and production and sale of slate products was a profitable business. Prices of products by Raab's mine were no different from those of other nearby mines. According to the chronicle of Staré Těchanovice, the prices in 1880 were as follows:

  • 1 threescore (60 pieces) of slate tiles cost around 15 kreutzers.
  • 1 square fathom of roofing (approx. 3.6 m2) cost 80 – 100 kreutzers, according to the type and shape of the tiles.

Work in slate mines, whether underground or on the surface, was relatively well paid.

We can compare earnings of the employees of Raab's mines with those of other workers:

  • a miner's daily wage was 1 gulden, that is 100 kreutzers,
  • a male labourer working in the mine earned 60 kreutzers a day,
  • a female labourer working on the surface earned 50 – 60 kreutzers a day,
  • a day labourer earned 20 kreutzers, a hodman 40 kreutzers, and a mason from 80 kreutzers to 1 gulden,
  • a farm worker earned 50 – 60 guldens a year, and a wench 40 guldens a year.

 

And what could they buy for that?

Prices of basic products:

  • 1 pound (0.56 kg) of wheat flour cost 10 kreutzers and of rye flour 6 kreutzers,
  • 1 pound of butter cost 12 kreutzers,
  • 1 pound of pork cost 30 kreutzers,
  • 1 "máz" (about 1.5 l) of milk cost 8 kreutzers,
  • 8 – 9 eggs cost 6-7 kreutzers,
  • a pair of shoes cost 4 – 5 gulden, women's shoes 2 – 3 gulden,
  • in case you needed a coffin, the carpenter charged you 4 – 10 gulden.

 

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