Miners' Houses

GPS: 49°49'39.720"N 17°43'2.881"E – map



The emerging slate industry had a significant impact of the structure of employment of the local population. Farmers and loggers gradually became miners and workers, who cut and cleaved extracted slate on the surface. Farm owners then used their horse-drawn carriages for distribution of slate even to a greater distance. However, the local people did not have much experience with mining and processing slate. Therefore, mine owners brought here skilled workforce from other mining areas as well as slate mining experts from Thuringia. They began settling here in the 19th century, and in addition to their invaluable experience, which they passed on local miners, they also brought their typical dialect. Many elements of their dialect then transferred into the local German dialect, which had survived here until the post-war resettlement of the German-speaking population after World War II.



Around the mines, miners were built new houses from slate, so-called berghauses. These were rented houses built from slate waste where dwelt miners and their families who had no other property of their own.

Here, near the first Nittmann's Mine, several of them were built. Only two berghauses have survived until now: No. 19 and No. 39. From a third one, No. 38, there are only the foundation wall and stairs leading from the well which have left. The exposed walls of Berghaus No. 39 clearly show that their builders did not use any mortar but merely soil from the field. Down by the end of the road, you will also find Nittmann's House No. 20.



In times well past, when there was still a dense forest under the Moraberg hill between Zálužné and Mokřinky, a poor charcoal burner lived here in a shack. One late summer evening, he was sitting in front of his poor dwelling and wondered how make life better for him and his family. Then, in the forest, he saw a light approaching to where he sat. Suddenly, a small bearded man with a lantern – a mine dwarf – stood in front of him. "I know your suffering," said the dwarf. "Every hundred years, I help a good man. And today, I will help you. Come with me, you will not regret it." The charcoal burner woke up his eldest son and the three headed for the flashing light into the dark forest. Suddenly, the light lost in the thicket, and when they pulled it apart, they saw before them a brightly-lit cave with beautifully coloured dripstones. There were dry autumn leaves all over the cave floor. The dwarf said: "Help me sweep these leaves and I will reward you richly". The charcoal burner and his son swept the cave, and the dwarf thanked them and told them to take the dripstones that they liked. "What would they be good for?" they said and disappointed went on their way home. But before they left, the son took a piece a bright blue dripstone. On the next morning, when they went to the forest to check the charcoal kiln, the boy found the piece of the dripstone in his pocket. He pulled it out and couldn't believe his eyes – it was of pure gold! He showed it to his father, and they went to look for the cave at once. But they never found it again.

In the place where they had seen the thicket last night, there was suddenly a strange, dark grey rock. They tried to break into the magic cave with pickaxes, but there was nothing there. But then they noticed the strange rock can be split into thin plates – it was slate. They mended their house with slate and started to sell it to neighbours and people from near and far. And so they became the first slate miner, and the dwarf did as he had promised.



Slate and shale are fine-grained (grains of less than 0.063 mm) rocks that can be easily cleaved, which is caused by the rough parallel arrangement of clay minerals and formation of organic membranes. Slate is formed by sedimentation and by the following very weak metamorphism (anchimetamorphism). In most of these rocks, temperature and pressure caused recrystallization of clay minerals into large units, the shape of which substantially conditions foliation and thus cleavability into differently thin plates.

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