Besucherbergwerk Grube Ludwig

Useful Information

Location: Am Wetzel 19, 69483 Wald-Michelbach.
(49.565420, 8.852040)
Open: APR to OCT last Sat 10-15.
Fee: free.
Classification: MineIron Mine MineManganese Mine
Light: LightIncandescent Electric Light System
Dimension: T=8-11 °C, L=1,800 m.
Guided tours: L=160 m. V=1,200/a [2014]
Photography: allowed
Accessibility: no
Address: Besucherbergwerk Grube Ludwig, Zukunftsoffensive Überwald GmbH, Am Wetzel 19, 69483 Wald-Michelbach, Tel: +49-6207-942426.
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.


795 Mining of ores at Weschnitz on the edge of the Überwald is documented.
1870 Mining of iron ore profitable due to the high manganese content.
1888 The mining companies Hesse & Schulte, the Dillinger Hüttenwerke, and the company de Wendel, Hayingen, start mining.
1889 The Ludwig mine is opened.
1912 Mining ceases.
1918 Ludwig mine closed.
1994 Exhibition mine opened.


The manganese iron ore of the Odenwald is bound to the Zechstein, originally a low-thickness layer sequence of limestone. Later, the limestone was transformed into dolomite in many places and iron- and manganese-bearing solutions enriched these metals. Before the Zechstein period, the area was land and the erosion of the local granites formed a hilly landscape. After the sea flooded, the deposition of limestone began to fill in the valleys and depressions of these older rocks, levelling them with approximately horizontal layers. In other words, an unconformity occurred between the Zechstein and the older crystalline rocks below.

The deepening of the basin continued and more layers of sediments were deposited on top, starting with the red sandstone of the Lower Triassic, which are called Buntsandstein in German. Later tectonic movements caused the strata to dip slightly to the southeast. This uplift in the area of the Rheingraben (Rhine Graben) was accompanied by a lowering of the graben itself. As a result, weathering set in and retrograde erosion of cap rocks forming escarpement created the South German Scarplands. Here, in the vicinity of the Rheingraben, the erosion reached the crystalline basement. Between the bedrock and the red sandstone, the Zechstein forms a narrow band that peeks out from under the red sandstone. It visibly separates the eastern Buntsandstein-Odenwald from the western Granit-Odenwald for long stretches.

In the Ludwig mine, pyrolusite (soft manganese ore), psilomelane (hard manganese ore) and wad (manganese foam) bound to Zechstein dolomite were mined.


Besucherbergwerk Grube Ludwig (Show Mine Grube Ludwig) is a show mine in the Überwald, a part of the Odenwald. Mineral resources were mined in the Odenwald for many centuries, with the first evidence dating back to the 8th century. Initially, iron ore was mined, smelted with charcoal and processed in forges using water power. The heyday of mining in Überwald, however, was in the period from 1895 to 1912, when a wide variety of raw materials were extracted in numerous pits and galleries. The de Wendel company from Lorraine mined manganese and barite, among other things. A cable railway carried the ores over 2.8 km to the new railway station in Unter-Wald-Michelbach, powered by a steam engine.

Manganese has only been a valuable material for a relatively short time; for many centuries little was known about it. The same applies to barite and fluorspar, all of which were originally regarded as slag. This changed with the invention of converter technology for smelting iron. Other minerals were added to the molten pig iron to produce steel in various alloys. One of these is manganese which increases the strength of steel. This had been known for some time, and that is why manganese-rich iron ore was also very popular, but the artificial addition of manganese was not possible for a long time.

The iron ores of the Zechstein were very rich in manganese, among other things, and were mined in various pits. Around 1900, 300 miners were employed here. Why the mines in the area were closed relatively abruptly is unknown. Probably not due to the war, either the deposits were exhausted or mining was no longer profitable for some reason. During the Second World War, some galleries were used as air raid shelters, after which they were forgotten.

The Überwald Museum is a local history museum located in a beautiful boxwork building in Wald-Michelbach. Since mining and smelting are an essential part of this local history, large parts of the exhibition are dedicated to these topics. It also has an extensive mineral collection with finds from Wald-Michelbach as well as exhibits from the surrounding area. A special highlight is the water box lift, through which the quarried ore was brought out of the gallery by gravity. So it is not surprising that the mining enthusiasts of the Überwald Museum and Culture Association spent many volunteer hours working to open up the former Ludwig Mine and make it accessible as a show mine.

From 1889 to 1893, the Ludwig mine was operated by the Siegen mining company Hesse and Schulte, and from 1893 to 1918 by the Siegener Eisenindustrie AG. In 1893 the colliery house was built, which housed the mining office. It also served as accommodation for non-resident miners. The mine had two adits and four shafts. A total of 7,430 tonnes of manganese ore were mined here and in the neighbouring Morgenstern mine.

Adit I was made accessible again for the exhibition mine. Of the 110 m of the gallery, about 85 m are accessible. The gallery is 1.7 to 2 m high, so visitors have to stoop sometimes.