Gebauer and Mar's Mine

GPS: 49°49'25.860"N 17°42'46.019"E – map


Here stood one of the smallest slate mines near Zálužné.

In 1884, a local farmer Franz Gebauer and the former owner of the local mill Augustin Mar started to dig a new adit. By the first half of 1885, they finished a vertical shaft and began to dig a horizontal adit.

However, the year 1885 – which was by the way the centenary year of existence Zálužné – was fatal and tragic for the local slate mines. At that time, all the mines under the Moraberg hill were flooded by groundwater. The most disastrous consequences of this unfortunate event were suffered by the newly built Gebauer and Mar's mine. The sudden flooding of the mine occurred at a time when both the owners – along with miners – were present inside the mine. Franz Gebauer survived the disaster at the cost of lasting consequences and never returned to mining again.

Mar survived too, but bad luck pursued him since. Several times, he tried to work in the mine all by himself, attempting to pump out the water. In 1891, when water again flooded the lower part of the shaft, Mar went there to measure the height of its surface. About half past ten at night on 3 March 1891, he fell into the flooded shaft, get injured, and remained trapped down in the mine.

After futile attempts to call for help and get out, Mar drowned there at the age of 75. Thus, he became the only known direct victim of the mining disaster caused by the breakout of groundwater.

After the death of Franz Gebauer, his son Julius and his wife Anna decided to honour the memory of this event by founding a chapel. On 6 August 1897, near the shaft – called Wasserloch (water hole) – they allocated the lot No. 87 from the mine's land for the construction of the chapel. The chapel should have reminded the tragic event. Today, it still stands there as a memorial to all victims of the local slate mines.



Josef Štýbnar was born on 19 March 1913 in Náklo. In 1933, he completed his apprenticeship as a roofer and asphalter in the company Šindler in Olomouc. He had worked for the company until 1937 when he moved to the company Prucek a Řihák where he stayed until the war was over. He met there Jan Řihák, and though him he learned about the use and especially methods of mining of slate. Their cooperation gradually bore fruit.

In 1945, Štýbnar moved to Řihák's slate mine in Hrubá Voda, where he worked as a mine overseer and – after completing training – as a blasting engineer.

When Jan Řihák took over the Pollak's mine in Zálužné, he entrusted Štýbnar to manage the mine, starting from 1 October 1947. Though this long mutual cooperation, Štýbnar had gained invaluable expertise on slate, which he later passed on to his successors. They two formed a strong friendship.

Jan Řihák, who lost all his property, companies, and slate mines after nationalization in 1948, then worked in the slate industry as a mere employee. In 1956, after dismissed from work, he worked as the head of the mill in Hrubá Voda. After that, he had become unfit for any leading positions due to his former entrepreneurial activities. Then, he found a job as a mining engineer in a local mine under the leadership of Josef Štýbnar. Štýbnar also let him live in his house No. 32 in Zálužné.

In the 1950s, the mine – which Štýbnar led until his retirement in 1969 – employed 23 people. In addition to local residents, this number also included members of two German families, the Steckers and Kuttlers from Velké Střelné. As experts in mining and processing of slate, there were not expelled after the war, but stayed to pass on their expertise to new workers. It was probably because Josef Štýbnar, who had learned about the industry in Řihák's mines, was considered an important authority. Soon after Štýbnar's retirement, the mine was closed. Mining of the deposit started again in 1971 with the newly opened pit Lhotka.



Dealing with water in mines is usually costly. Mine water is divided according to origin into three basic groups:

·         vadose water – groundwater,

·         atmospheric water,

·         surface water – flowing water.


Vadose water originates mainly from atmospheric water, which has previously penetrated the Earth's crust though cracks and bedding joints. The average level of the water is stable as it also its affluents remain relatively stable.

Atmospheric water penetrates into mines especially during the rainy season and snow melt. Its quantity is variable. The largest amount of this water gets into mines in spring.
Surface water is that in streams and rivers. This water can penetrate into mines if its level exceeds that of the mine.

If the mine has no drains, mine water can be removed by constructing a drainage tunnel or pumping it up to the surface or in the drainage tunnel.

Examples from the local area:

The Pollak's adit is a self-draining mine constructed with a slight rise from the entrance to the cross-cut. The similar design was applied in Raab's mines. 

The Carl Mine in Mokřinky was originally a drainless mine, where at first water was pumped to the surface. Later, a 400 m long water tunnel was dug, and the mine thus became self-draining. The system was also used in the Nittmann's Mine.

The slate mine Lhotka – the most modern slate mine in the Czech Republic – was built in the 1970s. The drainage system was designed based on the abandoned mine of the same name, Lhotka. The new mining pit was connected at a depth of 41 m to the old self-draining mine by a cross-cut adit. As a result, mine water from the new mine was diverted by a slight slope to the old mine, which is located about 10 m below the level of the new mine.

Where it was not possible to build water tunnels, a water pit was usually dug, ended with a sump, to which all adits led. From there, water was eventually pumped out. Such mines were located primarily in Velká Střelná, where their depths often reached well below the level of the surrounding watercourses. It is interesting that during their operation these mines were several times completely flooded, especially in times of crisis when there was not enough money to provide coal for steam engines which powered water pumps.



In the past, water was pumped out of mine by using various pump types: from wooden piston pumps, through horizontal centrifugal pumps, to submersible pumps – Nautilus. Pumps used a different drive: water wheels, wind mills (Velká Střelná during the manager Burghauser around 1880), steam drives (Zálužné – Nittmann and Weisshuhn), and currently electric pumps (Velká Střelná – for the first time in a slate mine, Řihák 1932).

A similar solution was applied also in quarries on the surface. There were two technically unique quarries that can serve as an example: 



Its original depth was about 60 m. Today, the quarry is flooded. In the 50s of the last century, mining was stopped here and so was pumping of water. Given that there no drains constructed, the quarry was flooded up to 45 m.



In these day, we can still see how the brook – which was located above the floor level of the quarry – was adjusted for the need of the quarry. Among other things, it is still possible to see how the brook was used to drive the quarry machinery and possibly water pumps. Torque of the water wheels was transferred through a transmission.



During extraction of slate, water is used for drilling. Drills driven by compressed air are also connected to the mine’s water supply, and the water then flushes out dust and other waste during drilling. When processing slate, great amounts of water are also employed for cutting and grinding slate plates and for cooling machines. Cutting and grinding must be carried out using water as it prevents formation of dust harmful to health. When cutting, water washes away crushed slate and cools the cutting blade. Therefore, in self-draining mines, mine water is retained in sumps from where it is pumped into reservoirs for mining and processing of slate.


Select language