Show mine

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A mine, i.e. an industrial facility for the underground extraction of mineral commodities, has three operating phases: it may be open or running, or closed or it may be a working museum. Most mines are simply closed once they are no longer productive. For safety they are usually partially destroyed (filled in). However, many mines are at least partially accessible today to visitors.

In such cases they may be referred to as show mines or visitor mines if the focus is mainly on visiting the former mine, or mining museums if the mine only forms part of a museum. Most show mines have been set up in abandoned mines. In recent decades, however, they have often been established immediately after the mine has closed. As a result, at least some jobs have been preserved, but their funding comes from cultural tourism and subsidies, not the extraction of natural resources.


Fireman practising the rescue of an injured group of visitors in the Fell Visitor Mine

A show mine is often just a small part of a much larger mining facility that is developed, secured and provided with educational exhibits and installations. Such mines are usually equipped with fixed electrical lighting, which rarely existed in earlier mining operations. A few mines offer more authentic guided tours, by not using electric lights and equipping visitors instead with miners' lamps. In Germany and Austria, the respective mining offices are entrusted with the supervision of the show mines within their areas of responsibility. This specifically includes the observance of safety. For example, show mines, must have a second exit and the fire service responsible must agree to practise the rescue of accident victims from the mine at regular intervals.

Preserved pit railways, needed to reach mining works deep within a mountain, are especially popular. A few visitor mines still have working winders that transport visitors down into the mine. They are also an important element of the mining industry, without which a portrayal of the technology would be incomplete. In addition, the ride for young and old is an experience that often represents an additional highlight of their visit.

There are show mines in many nations around the world, but they are of course particularly common in industrialized nations. The longer a country's mining history, the more interesting are its abandoned mines. In Germany there are more than 100 such show mines, but many may only be visited on Sundays or by appointment. In Austria there are just over 30 visitor mines. Some of these mines have been closed in recent years, because they no longer meet significantly higher safety standards introduced after the Lassing mining disaster. Examples include the Arthur Gallery (Arthurstollen) and the shale oil mine in Pertisau.

Many show mines have only been established for the purpose of demonstration, without ever having served for extraction of mineral resources. These include the Mining Museum in Bochum, the Barbara Gallery at the University of Cologne and the so-called German Slate Mine in Mayen.

List of show mines[edit]


List of show mines
Name Native name (if different) Country State Municipality Remarks
Kochendorf Salt Mine
Salzbergwerk Kochendorf Germany Baden-Württ. Kochendorf near Bad Friedrichshall rock salt (visitor mine owned by the Südwestdeutschen Salzwerke AG since ca. 1960)
Berchtesgaden Salt Mine Salzbergwerk Berchtesgaden Germany Bavaria Berchtesgaden rock salt
Deutsches Museum Germany Bavaria Munich
Fortuna Pit Visitor Mine Besucherbergwerk Grube Fortuna Germany Hesse Solms-Oberbiel former iron ore mine
Ypsilanta Pit Visitors' Gallery Besucherstollen Grube Ypsilanta Germany Hesse Dillenburg-Oberscheld former iron ore mine
Hüttenstollen Osterwald Germany Lower Saxony Osterwald on the Osterwald former coal mine
Klosterstollen Germany Lower Saxony Barsinghausen on the Deister former coal mine
Rammelsberg Mining Museum and Visitor Mine Bergbaumuseum und Besucherbergwerk Rammelsberg Germany Lower Saxony Goslar UNESCO World Heritage Site
Raumland Slate Show Mine Schieferschaubergwerk Raumland Germany NRW near Bad Berleburg
German Mining Museum Deutsches Bergbau-Museum Bochum Germany NRW Bochum It has the pit frame of the Germania Pit as its symbol
Nachtigall Pit Visitor Mine Besucherbergwerk Zeche Nachtigall Germany NRW Witten former coal mine with underground area
Ramsbeck Ore Mine Erzbergwerk Ramsbeck Germany NRW Bestwig former lead and zinc mine with underground area and pit railway
Kleinenbremen Visitor Mine Besucherbergwerk Kleinenbremen Germany NRW Kleinenbremen former iron ore mine
Fell Visitor Mine Besucherbergwerk Fell Germany Rhineland-Palatinate Fell historic roofing slate mine
Bindweide Pit Grube Bindweide Germany Rhineland-Palatinate Steinebach/Sieg
Am Königsberg Limestone Mine Kalkbergwerk am Königsberg Germany Rhineland-Palatinate Wolfstein
Schlossberg Caves Schlossberghöhlen Germany Saarland Homburg greatest bunter sandstone caves in Europe
Pöhla Tin Chambers Visitor Mine Besucherbergwerk Zinnkammern Pöhla Germany Saxony Pöhla tin / uranium
St. Anna am Freudenstein Visitor Mine Besucherbergwerk St. Anna am Freudenstein Germany Saxony Zschorlau silver
Büchenberg Pit Erzgrube Büchenberg Germany Saxony-Anhalt Büchenberg former iron ore mine
Drei Kronen & Ehrt Visitor Mine Besucherbergwerk „Drei Kronen & Ehrt“ Germany Saxony-Anhalt Elbingerode (Harz) former pyrite mine
Röhrigschacht Show Mine Schaubergwerk Röhrigschacht Germany Saxony-Anhalt Wettelrode former copper shale mine
Volle Rose Show Mine Schaubergwerk Volle Rose Germany Thuringia Ilmenau fluorspar and baryte
Rabensteiner Stollen Visitor Mine Besucherbergwerk „Rabensteiner Stollen“ Germany Thuringia Netzkater/Ilfeld former and only coal mine in the Harz
Saalfeld Fairy Grottoes Feengrotten Germany Thuringia Saalfeld alaunschiefer
Glückauf Experience Mine Erlebnisbergwerk „Glückauf“ Germany Thuringia Sondershausen potash mine
Hühn Visitor Mine Besucherbergwerk Hühn Germany Thuringia Brotterode-Trusetal former fluorspar and baryte pit
Finstertal Visitor Mine Besucherbergwerk „Finstertal“ Germany Thuringia Schmalkalden former iron and lignite pit
Fairy Tale and Sandstone Cave Märchen- und Sandsteinhöhle Germany Thuringia Walldorf (Werra) actually a sand mine
Terra–Mystica Show Mine Terra–Mystica–Schaubergwerk Austria Carinthia Bad Bleiberg
Knappenberg Show Mine Schaubergwerk Knappenberg Austria Carinthia Knappenberg includes an underground area and accessible mine
Oberzeiring Show Mine Schaubergwerk Oberzeiring Austria Steiermark Oberzeiring
Radmer Copper Show Mine Kupferschaubergwerk Radmer Austria Steiermark Radmer
Schwaz Silver Mine Schwazer Silberbergwerk Austria Tyrol Schwaz
Gonzen Switzerland St. Gallen / Rheintal Sargans Above-ground extraction inside a rock massif


List of show mines
Name Native name (if different) Country State Municipality Remarks
Copper Queen Mine United States Arizona Bisbee copper
Pocahontas Exhibition Coal Mine United States Virginia Pocahontas coal mine; National Register of Historic Places
Beckley Exhibition Coal Mine United States West Virginia Beckley coal mine; National Register of Historic places
Soudan Underground Mine United States Minnesota iron mine; National Historic Landmark

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