|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. |
|Classification:||Coal Mine Mining Museum Mine Replica|
|Light:||Incandescent Electric Light System|
|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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|1934||museum opened to the public.|
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. Coal was initially mined in quarries or near-surface galleries. The increasing demand made deeper shafts profitable, and the developing mining technology made new ways of mining possible.
The seams were comparatively thin, only one to two metres thick. The miners followed the coal layers underground to a depth of several hundred metres. Depending on the technology and the world market price of coal, only mining layers of several metres is profitable today. The mining of these much thinner coal layers was profitable until the early 1970s, but later it was no longer profitable. But then came the oil crisis and the continuation of coal mining suddenly became a political decision. Later, in the 1980s and 1990s, coal mining was still promoted by politicians to secure jobs. But at some point the last coal mines were closed, even before coal mining in Germany was officially ended because of the climate crisis. This was just a final prank on the citizens by the outgoing black government: to officially close mines that had already been closed years before, but this time because of climate protection. Another absurd detail on the side, the remaining amount of coal here in Saarland alone would be enough to supply Germany with energy for several hundred years. And what's more, it would be much cleaner energy than the lignite-fired power plants that will continue to run until 2029.
The mining museum in Bexbach shows the history and technology of coal mining in the Saarland. It is housed inside a former water tower. The visit begins on the 7th floor of the tower, from where there is an impressive view of the coalfield. Floor by floor, the visitor learns about coal mining from Roman times to the present day. Documents, maps and pictures explain the geological and social background of coal mining. The typical equipment of the miner can also be seen, such as safety lamps, surveying equipment, gas masks and the equipment of the underground fire brigade. A collection of plant fossils from the coal is also very interesting.
Finally, the tour ends with a visit to an underground gallery with heavy mining equipment. When visitors reach the first floor, they are handed miner's jackets and helmets. A steep ladder leads down into a coal layer, this first part of the mine is only 1.20 m high, the same height as the coal layer, and shows mining at the seam. Another wooden staircase takes the visitor to a higher gallery, which houses heavy mining machinery from the 20th century. At the end of this gallery, a door opens into the park. The visitor walks back through a Japanese garden to the entrance of the museum. The entire mine was artificially constructed. The park was filled in, using overburden to create a level terrain. So the show mine was first built by placing the wood and steel support structure in the open field and then covering it with the overburden.