|Location:||In Bexbach. A6 exit Homburg, turn north towards Bexbach, 4 km. Turn left in the village, 1 km uphill. Signposted.|
|Open:||MAR to SEP Mon-Fri 9-17, Sat, Sun, Hol 10-18. OCT to FEB Mon-Fri 9-16, Sat, Sun, Hol 13-17. |
|Address:||Saarländisches Bergbaumuseum Bexbach e.V., Niederbexbacher Strasse, 66450 Bexbach, Tel: +49-6826-4887, Fax: +49-6826-510884. 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.
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The area around Bexbach has sedimentary rock layers from the Devonian and Carbon Age. The coal is found in layers of some centimeters to about one metre. The layers are falling at an angle of 30°.
The museum at Bexbach is located near one of the many important coal mines of the Saarland. This area was famous for coal mining throughout centuries. From the mid 19th to the mid 20th century it was a motor of the industrial revolution and the economic development of central Europe. Belonging to Germany originally, this area was under French administration several times. First after Napoleon Bonaparte occupied most of Europe, later two times after both World Wars which were lost by Germany. Both times France claimed the ownership of this area as a reparation for the war. And both times after some time a referendum reunited the area with Germany.
The mining started already during Roman times, but it was intensified at the beginning of the industrial revolution. Coal and iron were the key to industrialization. Coal was needed to produce iron, iron was needed to produce and transport coal. So a self increasing process started. The coal was first mined in quarries or shallow tunnels. The increasing demand made deeper shafts rentable, the developing mining technology made new ways of mining possible.
The layers were comparably thin, only one or two meters thick. The miners followed the coal layers unerground until they reached depths of several hundred meters. Depending on the technology and - of course - the world market price of coal, today only the mining of layers of several meters is profitabile. However, the mining of this coal was profitable until the 1970s. Then after the oil crisis the continuation of coal mining was a political decision. Later during the eighties and nineties the coal mining was still promoted by the politicians to offer labour. But today the rentability of the coal is too low to allow further mining. Nevertheless, the amount of remaining coal would allow to produce energy for Germany for several hundred years.
The Mining Museum at Bexbach shows the history and the technology of coal mining. It is located in a former water tower. The visit starts at the 7th floor of the tower, with an impressive view on the coal mining area. Descending floor by floor, the visitor learns about coal mining from Roman times until today. Documents, maps and pictures explain the geologic and social background of the mines. Typical miners gear is also on display, lamps, surveying gear, gas masks and mining gear. Very interesting is a collection of plant fossils in coal.
The visit includes an underground mine adit with heavy mining gear. When the visitors reaches the ground floor, miner jackets and helmets are provided. A steep ladder leads down into a coal layer, this first part of the mine is only 1.20 m high, as ahigh as the coal layer, and shows the mining at the Flöz (German mining term for coal layer). going down another wooden stair, the visitor reaches a higher tunnel which contains heavy mining machinery of the 20th century. At the end of this tunnel a door opens into the park. The visitor walks back through a Japanese Garden to the entrance of the museum. The whole mine was made artificially. This park was created by dumping the remains of the mining activities, the rock debris at this place to get level ground. The show mine was built first and covered by the rock.