Bergbaumuseum Oelsnitz

Useful Information

Location: Oelsnitz. A 72 exit Stollberg. A4 exit Hohenstein-Ernstthal, then towards Lugau.
Open: All year Tue-Sun, Hol 10-17, tours at 11, 13:30, 16.
Closed 24-DEC, 01-JAN.
Fee: Adults EUR 4.80, Children (6-16) EUR 2.40, Children (0-5) free, Students EUR , Family (2+2) EUR .
Groups (10+): Adults EUR 4.30, Children (6-16) EUR 1.80.
Classification: MineCoal Mine SubterraneaReplica Underground Mine
Light: LightIncandescent Electric Light System
Guided tours: D=90 min.
Address: Bergbaumuseum Oelsnitz, Pflockenstraße 1, 09376 Oelsnitz/Erzgebirge, Tel: 037298-93940, Fax: 037298-939449. E-mail: contact
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.


1844 begin of coal mining at Oelsnitz.
1946 Kaiserin-Augusta-Schacht renamed Karl-Liebknecht-Schacht.
1971 mine closed.
1976 begin of preparations for the museum.
1986 museum and show mine opened to the public.
2000 premises added to the museum.


In the basin around Oelsnitz, which is still part of the Erzgebirge, but geologically has a completely different structure, several coal deposits were deposited during the Carboniferous. Obviously it was a basin which was subject to progressive subsidence. Plant remains became thicker and thicker until they were finally covered by sand or mud. High pressure and medium temperature solidified the sediments into sedimentary rocks, and the plant remains were transformed into coal.


The Bergbaumuseum Oelsnitz is one of the biggest mining museums in Germany. It is dedicated to the Saxonian coal mining industry. It is located at the colliery Kaiserin-Augusta-Schacht, which was later in the GDR renamed Karl-Liebknecht-Schacht. The tour starts at the 50 m high head frame with a ride on the mine elevator. Some 400 m of tunnel were developed as a show mine. Here the technical development of the collieries is explained. Many machines are still fully functional and are shown in action during the tour. Several innovations form the Saxonian collieries were exported to the west German Ruhrgebiet.

The museum is located in the mine buildings, which were declared a cultural heritage. It explains the geologic background of the coal deposits, which were formed by the lush forest of the Carbon 300Ma ago. Another important topic are the social aspects of the mining. The history of the mining is connected with the political situation of the GDR. In the Karl-Liebknecht-Schacht the miner Adolf Hennecke made his controversial Sonderschicht. This was the begin of the activist movement in the young GDR. The shift was well prepared, and so he was able to produce 24,4 m³ of coal instead of the average 6,3 m³. This was intended to motivate the miners to work harder. But this political event was disapproved by many miners as an unsocial norm breaking.

Since April 2000 the premises also belong to the museum, which has a lot of room to display heavy machinery. There is a 17 m high head frame with a drum hoist, a reel and a steam railroad with a waggon. The central exhibit is the biggest still working steam engine of Saxony. Every guided tour ends with a demonstration of this steam engine.

At Oelsnitz coal was produced from 1844 until 1971. The coal was disovered at a depth of 9 m and the mining followed the seams undergound. At the end the mines were 1,200 m deep. The Frisch-Glück-Schacht was stared in 1871 and reached 931 m, which made it the deepest pit of the world for some time. The coal field at nearby Hohndorfer reached a depth of 1,200 m during the 1960s, which made it the deepest pit of Europe. The mining was finally abandoned because of the exhaustion of the deposit.

A newly built ticket office building at the entrance gate also offers some literature and souvenirs. Visitors start with a tour through the administration building and various machine rooms until they reach the shaft. Here, the tour starts at a fixed time. After some introductory words, the group takes the elevator up to the shaft tower. Up here the machinist of the elevator was sitting, on a place with large operating levers and a good view of the cable drums and various display instruments. Originally there was a small elevator for the machinist, which was built into the steel framework in a corner of the tower. This is no longer usable today. The elevator that takes the visitors into the tower was built into the original shaft of the winding tower, but it is a normal elevator that probably dates back to the 1960s. After visiting the tower and enjoying the impressive view, this elevator takes you underground. Here you can take a tour through the colliery and learn about the techniques used in the mining process.

In contrast to the ore mines in the nearby Erzgebirge, coal is mined in a rather soft, less stable cap rock. In addition, the quantities mined are quite considerable. If no material is available to fill these large cavities, there is a big risk of collapse. In order to avoid this, the mine was deliberately brought to collapse. Mining was carried out at the coal face, starting with a long milling machine that resembles a large chainsaw. At ground level it cuts three metres deep into the coal. The miners break out the coal and transport it to the conveyor which is running along the mining area. This is much easier because of the slit at the bottom. When the coal has been extracted to the end of the slit the newly created space is stabilized with wooden beams. After that the conveyor belt is moved up to the face. So the condition as before is reached again and the next shift can start.

In this type of mining it was important that the advance was uniform over the entire width. The cleared roadway had to be small enough to stand until the support was completed. The support was made with new material as well as with wood that was removed further back and was still usable. A few meters from the working area the support was carefully removed. After that the rock starts to move and subsequently breaks down. The cavity does not disappear, but moves upwards. In the process it is split into many small cavities until it stops at some point. If it does not, you can experience structural damage and collapse dolines on the surface, a typical problem in mining areas.

The many exhibitions on the site deal with very different topics. A geological exhibition shows coal, fossils from the Carboniferous, schematic representations and geological maps. The highlight is certainly a reconstructed carbon forest, with plants, dim light and animal sounds, which is especially popular with children. Another exhibition deals with the regional railway, or rather a overland tram, which once connected the villages of the area. Various installations of the headframe were used to house a historical exhibition about mining and the situation of the miners. There is also a very interesting photo exhibition.

Besides the buildings themselves, the outdoor area shows a historical steam locomotive, several other colliery railways, large wheels that were probably used to deflect the steel cables of the winding tower, and various other large equipment. Here and in the exhibitions you can stay until the beginning of the guided tour and then visit the rest. The last guided tour usually ends when the ticket office is already closed. The visitor cannot enter the exhibition buildings any more, but they can still stay in the outdoor area and then leave the area through a revolving door to the parking lot. This is very useful, and in summer, when the sun set rather late, it's a popular option.