At Gonzen, near Sargans.
Tours: approx. once a month, schedule is published every year on the website below.
Only after appointment!
Meet 15 min earlier at the Knappenhaus (signposted from the parking lot).
Adults CHF 30, Children (12-18) CHF 25.
Groups (20+): Group (20) SFR 550, Additional Person CHF 27.50.
Ferien-Führung: Adults CHF 15, Children (10-18) CHF 10.
Restaurant Gonzenbergwerk: All year Wed-Fri 9-22, Sat 10-22, Sun 9-16.
|Light:||None, helmets with lamps provided.|
|Dimension:||L=90,000 m, VR=1,180 m (320 m asl to 1,500 m asl), T=13 °C, H=90%.|
L=2,000 m, H=85 m, D=3-4 h.
Ferien-Führung: L=2,000 m, H=85 m, D=2 h.
J. Oberholzer (1923):
Das Eisenerzvorkommen im Gonzen bei Sargans,
Beiträge zur Geologie der Schweiz, Geotechnische Serie, XIII. Lieferung, Band 1, Bern 1923.
W. Epprecht (1946): Die Eisen- und Manganerze des Gonzen, Beiträge zur Geologie der Schweiz, Geotechnische Serie, Lieferung XXIV, 1946.
This Adank ed. (1984): Das Eisenbergwerk Gonzen>, Verlag Pro Gonzenbergwerk, Sargans.
Sekretariat Pro Gonzenbergwerk, Rheinstrasse 22, 7320 Sargans, Tel: +41-81-723-1217.
Restaurant Gonzen Bergwerk, Vild 17, 7320 Sargans, Tel: +41-81-710-6861. E-mail:
|As far as we know this information was accurate when it was published (see years in brackets), but may have changed since then.
Please check rates and details directly with the companies in question if you need more recent info.
|200 BC||first iron mining by Romans, proven by slag from that time.|
|1396||first written account.|
|1919||Eisenberkwerk Gonzen AG gegründet.|
|1920||1,800 m long cable car for the transport of ore from Naus to Malerva completed.|
|1951||base tunnel built, cable car decommissioned.|
|1983||show mine opened, non-profit association Pro Gonzenbergwerk founded.|
In Gonzen primarily iron ore, with a certain content of manganese, was mined. The Gonzen mountain is called the most iron rich mountain of Switzerland. During the mining activities until 1966 about 2.7 Million tons of ore were mined.
The iron and manganese deposits at Gonzen are a layer in sedimentary limestone from the Malm (Upper Jurassic). Its is found in the upper part of the Unterer Quintnerkalk. There are three different layers with ore, the Gonzenlager and the Tschuggenlager in one horizon, the Valenalager in a second one below. They are about five to eight meters apart.
The whole deposit is three kilometers long, 300 meters wide and up to two meters thick. However, this is the undisturbed size, before the limestone was folded during the Alpian Orogeny. The formerly horizontal layers form now a huge fold, with a shear in the center.
The iron ore is of a rather good quality, with a little more than 50% iron. The total amount of already mined 2.7 Million tons is about half of the deposit. 2.3 Million tons are certain, 2.4 Million tons in all likelihood, and 0.8 Million tons are possible.
The iron mining at Gonzen was started about 2,000 years ago by the Romans. It continued for almost the whole time, with some ups and downs. But in 1966 the mining was not profitable anymore and was finally shut down.
The iron ore was mined from the surface, then underground. The mines where high up in the slope of the Gonzen mountain (1,830 m asl) at a height of 1,000 to 1,400 m asl. The ore was lifted in the mine to the surface, and then transported down to the furnaces in the valley. Originally this was made with special sledges. When the mining grew, a cable car was built, from Naus, a mining village at 1,000 m asl, to Malerva near Sargans. It was used to transport the ore to the valley floor. Finally, a base tunnel was built to transport the ore directly to the valley floor. It opens at 462 m asl.
Today a small part of the mine is opened to the public by the registered association Pro Gonzenbergwerk. The tour includes a two kilometre train ride on the surface and into the mine. A multimedia show introduces the visitors into the local mining history. Then the mine is toured and mining equipment, machinery and the old workings are shown. After 1.5 hours by foot, the mine is left on the train. The whole tour takes three to four hours, and as the mine does not have electric light, the visitors are equipped with helmets with lamps.
A special offer is the two-day tour, which starts at noon and returns the next day at 17. Starting with the train ride, the modern iron mining is visited first. So the tour is travel back in time, at first to the mining of the 1930s. At the evening the center of the mine called Nausgrube is reached, where the participants will stay overnight. The bag with sleeping bag and clothes is brought to this place. In the evening a party is made in the mine. On the next day the travel back in time through the mine is continued, by ascending to the oldest and topmost parts of the mine. The mine is left and the walk back is done through the Gonzenwald, a pleasant forest.
The two day tour is a little strenuous, although there is no necessity to climb. Appropriate clothes for the cold and humid mine, good walking shoes, clothes to change and so force must be brought. If visitors have no helmet with a lamp, this is provided. These tours are only for adults, and a reservation at least a fortnight in advance is necessary.