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.
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
|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|
|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|
|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|
- List of Show mines (German Wikipedia)