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Actually, Clausthal-Zellerfeld consists of two towns: Clausthal and Zellerfeld were merged in 1924 to form an administrative unit. Clausthal is well known for the old Clausthal University of Technology and its magnificent buildings, while Zellerfeld is a typical tourist resort for hikers and winter sportsmen. Clausthal-Zellerfeld is the largest town in the area that is situated in the mountains rather than on the edge.
Mining in the area began in the 16th century. Modern wire rope was invented to service the ironmines in the 1830s by the German mining engineer Wilhelm Albert in the years between 1831 and 1834 for use in mining in the Harz Mountains in Clausthal. It was quickly accepted because it proved superior to ropes made of hemp or to metal chains, such as had been used before and soon found its way into diverse applications, including most notably, suspension bridges. The Innerste Valley Railway was inaugurated in 1877 and extended to Altenau in 1914. The impressive station building and 70 buildings in the town were destroyed in an air raid on 7 October 1944. 92 people lost their lives.
Mining activity halted in 1930 because the ore deposits were exhausted and no longer financially valuable. Today, there are large remains of mines in the surrounding Harz region, some of which are now tourable museums. The railway line was closed in 1976. The former railway station, which was rebuilt from 1961-1963 after being destroyed in 1944, houses the tourist information and the municipal library today.