TERRA.vita-Infohütte at the Gaststätte zum Jägerberg, Zum Jägerberg 40, 49170 Hagen am Teutoburger Wald.
MAY to OCT Sun 11:30, 13:45, 16.
Registration via eMail required.
Adults EUR 7, Children (7-16) EUR 3.
|Limestone Quarries and Mine
|helmet and headlamp provided
|D=90 min, L=480 m, MinAge=6.
Hans Morlo (2013):
Sagen von der Gertrudenberger Höhle und deren Deutungsversuche.
Gertrudenberger Höhlen Osnabrück e.V. (Hrsg.), 2013.
Silberseestollen, Natur- und Geopark TERRA.vita, Am Schölerberg 1, D-49082 Osnabrück, Tel: +49-541-501-4217, Fax: +49-541-501-4424.
Tourismusgesellschaft Osnabrücker Land, Tel: +49-541-323-4567. 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.
|Extraction of iron ore at the Hüggel near Hasbergen is mentioned in documents for the first time.
|A "Silverkule" (silver, probably polymetallic ore) near Hasbergen is mentioned in a document for the first time as being subject to taxes.
|Count von Tecklenburg establishes a "Berchwerck" (mine), which, however, did not last long.
|Prince-Bishop Ernst-August II has a 700 m long tunnel driven into the Silberberg.
|exploration shafts are drilled in the Hüggel.
|Ironworks built in Hagen-Beckerode.
|Beckeroder ironworks mines iron ore on the northern slope of the Hüggel.
|Georgs-Marien-Bergwerks- und Hüttenverein founded, industrial mining begins in large opencast pits.
|First blast furnace is blown in.
|Osnabrücker Zinkgesellschaft (Osnabrück Zinc Company) founded.
|First commercial production of a mineral fibre called Schlackenwolle (slag wool) or Hüttenwolle.
|Construction of a cableway over the Hüggel to transport the lime to the loading station of the Hüggelbahn by Klöcker-Werke AG.
|After the lime deposit is exhausted, the quarry is closed and the cableway dismantled.
|End of iron ore mining.
|Mining ceases for good.
|Lake dries up.
|Dinosaur tracks discovered in the quarry.
|Opening of the Silver Lake Adit as a show mine.
The Hüggel is a hilly and forested region, which was raised by salt tectonics, by the rise of a salt dome from the depths. Sedimentary rocks from the Mesozoic era, which would actually lie several hundred metres lower, have been raised and now tower above the surrounding land. This surrounding land is in turn covered with a thick layer of ground moraine, debris and sand brought from Scandinavia by the glaciers of the Ice Age and left behind after the glaciers melted. To reach the ores, limestones or coal there, one would first have to dig a deep shaft. This explains why the Hüggel was historically important for a diverse mining industry, here the resources were available at the surface.
In areas where the layers of the Carboniferous are found near the surface, coal seams occur. In addition, there are sedimentary iron ore deposits from other ages. The limestones of the Silbersee (Silver Lake) are from the Lower and Middle Muschelkalk (Anisium, 247-245 Ma). At this time, this area belonged to a shallow, oxygen-rich marine bay, the Germanisches Becken (Germanic Basin), so shallow water and tidal flat sediments are found. The most common facies are Wellenkalk, dolomite and shill. You can find fossils of double-fanged mussels, snails, cephalopods and horseshoe crabs. The traces and dwellings of crabs and lobsters dug into the silt, lugworms' feeding tunnels and dinosaur tracks have also been found. The fossilised polygonal dry cracks and the ripple marks are also spectacular.
In the Hüggel between Silberberg, Roter Berg and Domprost-Sundern, non-ferrous metal ores occur in nests and as veins. The ores galena and zinc blende were formed hydrothermal, calamine is their weathering product. Mining of these ores was carried out several times, but never had any economic significance.
The Hüggel is a wooded mountain range south of Osnabrück, between Hagen am Teutoburger Wald and Hasbergen. In the forest on the southern edge, only about 200 m from the Jägerberg inn, there is an abandoned quarry with a lake called the Silbersee (Silver Lake). In this abandoned quarry there is also a gallery that is operated by the TERRA.vita Nature and Geopark as a show mine. The gallery probably doesn't actually have a name, but because of its proximity to the Silbersee it is therefore called the Silberseestollen (Silver Lake Gallery).
Iron was already being produced in the southern Osnabrück region in what is now Georgsmarienhütte in the Middle Ages. Iron ore was mined at the Hüggel, among other places, and coal came from Borgloh and from Kloster Oesede. The short transport routes provided ideal conditions. Old pits can be found on the north side of the Hüggel, and large quantities of iron slag interspersed with charcoal have also been found.
From the 16th century until the 1960s, iron ore was extracted from the Hüggel both underground and above ground. The Beckeroder Hütte (Ironworks Beckerode) with a steam hammer and a mechanical workshop was built in 1836 by the Osnabrück merchant Johann Carl Förster in Hagen-Beckerode. It produced bar iron and numerous cast products. When the owner wanted to sell in 1856, the Georgs-Marien-Bergwerks- und Hüttenverein (GMBHV) was founded as a public limited company to prevent a sale to Westphalia. The area belonged to the Kingdom of Hanover, and the newly founded mining company was set up by the banker Adolf Meyer, an official of the court, and with the non-material and material support of King George V of Hanover and Queen Marie. The latter two were then also the namesakes for the society and the village Georgsmarienhütte. Thereafter, mining and smelting was greatly intensified, but hampered by a lack of infrastructure, insufficient supplies of coal due to the flooding of the Glückauf shaft in the Düte valley, and passive resistance from the local population. Nevertheless, the pig iron produced was of good quality and sold well, company profits rose steadily, shareholders were paid dividends of up to 33%. The disturbed relationship with the population developed positively, as locals could now find a job opportunity outside agriculture. The construction of railway lines improved the infrastructure, including the Hüggelbahn in 1866, a railway connection for transporting machinery and tools and for taking ore away to the smelter.
A second phase began with the end of the First World War. In 1918 a majority shareholding was acquired by Geheimrat Peter Klöckner and August Thyssen. The new owners cooperated with the Lothringer Hütten- und Bergwerksverein and already in 1923 the merger took place. The name was changed to Klöcker-Werke AG. The world economic crisis, the National Socialists and finally the Second World War led to an economic rollercoaster ride. After the war, production was resumed, experienced the after-war Wirtschaftswunder period and, from 1970, the steel crisis. After many loss-making years, it was sold in 1993 to Dr.-Ing. Jürgen Großmann, who turned it into one of Europe's leading suppliers of bar steel, semi-finished products and bright steel.
The mining of non-ferrous metal ores, lead and zinc ores with a small amount of silver, did take place at Hüggel, but was never of economic importance. Between 1722 and 1726, Prince-Bishop Ernst-August II had a 700 m long tunnel driven into the Silberberg. The Osnabrücker Zinkgesellschaft (Osnabrück Zinc Company) was founded in 1860 and sank a short adit and five shafts to a depth of 20 m on the Rote Berg near Hasbergen. Operations were discontinued again in 1873, and the results were obviously not very lucrative. A total of 1,150 t of non-ferrous metal ore was mined at the Aaron and Kronprinz mines.
The name Hüggel sounds like the modern German term Hügel (hill), which seems logical, but it is assumed that it was actually derived from Höhle (cave) long ago. In the Middle Ages, the name was Huyle, Huile, or Huyel and was probably derived from the words for cave at that time, Hul or Hôl. A variety of cave names have also been preserved in documents and maps, like Hüggelhöhle, Wunderliche Höhle, Wunderloch, or Düvellöcker. Even Athanasius Kircher mentions a cave and its legendary inhabitants.
Huic affine referam atque annectam, quod communi omnium ore excepi in Westphalia non procul Osnabrugo in montibus vicinis (credo Iburgensibus) antrum fuisse inexploratorum recessuum, ac Labyrintheis perplexum erroribus, habitatum ab hujusmodi pumilionibus, ac spectris montanis, qui hominum erant mercenarii, maxime exercendo artem fabrilem, pretioque exiguo omnis generis instrumenta culinaria, aliaque affabrè è ferro fabricabant, quae ubi confracta ruptave fuerant, nulla poterant arte humanà
refici aut ferruminari.
Cujus generis climacem seu instrumentum pro suspendendis lebetibus me Osnabrugi vidisse memini, quod à gente hac montium inquilina confectum affirmabatur.
Plurima de hisce passim vulgi rumor ad me deferebat: Feras videlicet venantum elusisse industriam, dum ad speluncae istius asylum refugerent, canesque sectatores vestigia ferarum insecutos hisce in latebris disparuisse, nec reversos unquam.
Ego cum locum non viderim, de eo quoque plura non referam.
Dicuntur Montani hi Pygmaei solita haec cum hominibus commercia intermisisse, postquam eo in loco, ubi & res & pretium pro iis deponabatur, quispiam ingratus in ignominiam ipsorum alvum exonerasset.
Commorari autem communiter spiritus subterraneos, quos vulgus Pygmaeos vocat, iis in locis, ubi divites metallorum sunt minerae, vel thesauri reconditi, exemplis duobus mihi notissimis comprobabo.
Adjacent to this I will report and add what I have overheard from the common mouth of all in Westphalia, that not far from Osnabrück in the neighbouring mountains (I believe the Iburger) there was a cave with unexplored nooks and crannies, tangled by labyrinthine labyrinths, inhabited by such dwarfs and mountain apparitions, who were the peons of men, especially by the practice of the blacksmith's trade, and for a low price made kitchen utensils of all kinds and other artifices of iron, which, when broken and cracked, could not be restored or welded together by any human art. Of this kind I remember to have seen a ladder or a device for hanging up kettles in Osnabrück, which, it was assured, was made by this mountain-dwelling people. There was much talk about them among the people everywhere, namely that wild animals escaped the activity of the hunters by taking refuge in the open space of this cave, and that dogs and hunting companions, following the tracks of the wild animals, disappeared in these hiding places and never returned. As I have not seen the place, I will not give any more account of it. These mountain pygmies are said to have interrupted this customary trade with the people after some ingrate had defecated in the place where the goods and the price for them were deposited, to the shame of his body.
But that subterranean spirits, whom the people call pygmies, generally dwell in those places where there are rich metal mines or hidden treasures, I will prove with two examples very familiar to me.
Athanasius Kircher (1678): Mundus subterraneus Tomus II, S. 110
The mystical and legendary cave was probably not a natural cave, but an abandoned mine tunnel. People had simply forgotten that a gallery had been driven a few generations earlier. Some publications have even recognised this: "The appearance shows that this crypt or cave was made by human hands".
The countless legends of hill dwarfs, but also the misinterpretation of pits as sinkholes caused by the collapse of caves, contributed to the legend. At the same time, however, the cave is believed to contain silver ore, and the dwarves living in it are believed to have mined it. As already mentioned, the polymetallic ores were mined again and again, but it was never really profitable. The legends are well known and occur all over the world, we even have a separate page on which they are listed. Here, the The Far Connection Legend (Cave Legends) is particularly worth mentioning. The passages are said to have reached far beyond Osnabrück. Be that as it may, the legends are certainly entertaining.
Two hours from Osnabrück lies the Hüggel, which is said to have once had rich gold and silver mines.
The inhabitants of the surrounding area have many miracles to tell about the wide cave in the mountain.
Where on the steep slope of the Hüggel the wooden path leads through the mountain gorge to the village of Hagen, a blacksmith is said to have lived a long time ago, who was not like other people, but nevertheless delivered the best blacksmith's work.
He was a faithful husband, a careful father to his children and his servants, charitable to strangers and never let a poor wanderer pass by his door.
One Sunday, however, as the blacksmith's housewife was returning from church to the town, she was struck by lightning.
The blacksmith fell into despair over this, grumbled against God himself, did not want to know of any consolation and even did not want to see his children any more.
After a year he fell into a fatal illness, and in the last hour an unknown man came to him, of venerable reputation, with a long white beard, who carried him into the hollow crevices of the old hill, that he should wander about in the hill for the atonement of his iniquity and for the purification of his soul, and that he should be the metal king until the mountain yielded no more; at the same time he should rest during the day and at night continue to do good for his earthly brothers.
In the cool shafts his pious, benevolent mind awoke again. Gold and silver, he knew well, did not make him happy, so he laboriously dragged useful iron from the weakest veins, and in earlier times he is also said to have made household and farming tools. Later, his work was limited to shoeing horses. In front of the cave, a stake was sunk, to which the countrymen tied their horses for shoeing, but they were not allowed to refrain from placing the appropriate traditional wage on a large stone next to it. The Hüggeler, as they call the blacksmith, did not want to be seen by anyone and did not want to be disturbed in his cave.
Once, a bold fellow, out of greed, tried to get into the cave. He gathered an armful of green twigs, lit his miner's lamp and stepped under the high black ceiling of the cave. It was difficult for him to choose, because there were passages to the right and to the left. With a bit of luck, he chose the passage on the right. Soon his supply of twigs, with which he wanted to mark his way, was exhausted; he did not want to turn back and fetch more.
So he came to a high iron door at the end of the passage, which gave him little trouble: two powerful blows with the axe and the door flew wide open, but the draught blew out his miner's lamp. Come in! cried a bright, shrieking voice that went deep into his soul; half stunned, he stepped closer. A wonderful light shone from the vault of the ceiling and from the side walls, strange twitching images floated up and down like shadows on the strong pillars and smooth walls; the metal king, in the midst of small misshapen mountain spirits, and his servants on either side of him, sat on a long beam of solid silver, around a considerable shining pile of gold; they must have just been carousing. Come in, friend! the voice shrieked once more; take a seat at my side. There was still an empty seat, but the fellow didn't seem to like it at all. Why so despondent? Rest assured, no harm shall come to you; we will send you home again just as you came. But we want to give you a few good lessons along the way. If you follow them, you can still save some things where otherwise all would be lost. Come here to this table. Pale as a corpse and staggering, the lad approached. Displeasure at the ruin of your possessions and goods tempts you to become dissolute, to neglect your work and to search for forbidden treasures. Change your obstinate mind, and you will turn stones into gold; abandon your arrogance, and you will have gold and silver in abundance in your chests and cupboards. You will gather immeasurable treasures at once without your doing; consider how dangerous this is, and how often it fails. Rake your fields and gardens, cultivate your meadows and hills, and you will create rich mines of gold and silver.
When the metal king had said this, there arose a cawing as of ravens, and a hissing and whirring as of night owls, and a storm wind roared towards the man, and drove him mightily and irresistibly through the dark, damp passages out of the cave. When the lad was happily out in the open again, he vowed to do as the old Hüggeler had said, but never to return to his hermitage.
Some said that the Hüggeler's anger had finally returned, that he was no longer benevolent towards the peasants, but often hurled red-hot ploughing irons into the air, and thus unnecessarily frightened the peasants, from which they suspected that the silver mines would soon come to an end.
Osnabrücker Bürgerblatt, S. 89-94, Sage "56. Der Schmidt am Hüggel."
The Silbersee-Stollen (Silver Lake Tunnel) is located at the bottom of a large quarry which was created in the 1920s as a limestone quarry by the Klöcker-Werke AG. The limestone was needed as an aggregate in iron smelting, it improves slag formation. To transport the lime, an 820 m long cableway was built over the Hüggel to the loading station of the Hüggelbahn. When the lime was exhausted, the quarry was abandoned and the cableway dismantled. After the pumps were switched off, the opencast mine filled with water, the so-called Silver Lake. At the end of the Second World War, in 1945, there was a skirmish with the British army nearby and a tank was captured. The tank was quickly sunk in the Silver Lake. The name Silver Lake became familiar to the population when the lake became a popular bathing lake in the 1960s. It is probably due more to the colour of the water than to the historical silver mining in the area. The lake reaches a depth of 7 m and the water was crystal clear despite, or perhaps because of, the lack of inflow and outflow. At that time, the gallery could only be entered by divers.
Since the 1980s, the lake's water level has been dropping; at first it was dry only in summer, but now it only fills up after heavy rainfall. Sometimes, therefore, the gallery is inaccessible due to flooding and the guided tour has to be cancelled. A few years ago it "dried up", a fact that is unfortunately not explained, it is more likely that the groundwater level dropped.
The gallery was obviously an exploratory gallery for lime mining to determine which lime deposits were still present. So no silver or iron ores were mined here, the adit is also quite young, around the year 1932. However, a variety of fossils can be found here in the shell limestone. Horseshoe crabs lived in a shallow, oxygen-rich sea, and during storms large quantities of shells and other creatures were washed together and then fossilised. Many of the fossils can be seen at the Geozentrum Hüggel in Hasbergen. However, it is currently  closed because it is looking for new premises.
The Geopark offers regular guided tours under the name "The Secrets of the Silbersee Tunnel". For this purpose, 12 guides have been trained, as they proudly report on their website. Nevertheless, the guided tours are only offered irregularly on two or three Sundays a month. Since these days are different every year, those interested have to download the respective annual programme from the website, and it is also necessary to register by email. We recommend sturdy shoes or even better rubber boots and warm clothing that can get dirty, helmet with headlamp is provided. The quarry is privately owned and not open to the public outside the guided tours.
A Geologischer Lehrpfad Hüggel (geological nature trail Hüggel) with 23 stations, created by the Geopark, leads to the most important geological and mining points. The small circular trail is a 3 km long, well-maintained trail with no inclines that is also suitable for families, the elderly and the disabled. The large circular trail is about 6 km long, but has several inclines, is more arduous and requires sturdy footwear. The starting point for both is the Roter Berg hikers' car park, Roter Berg 8, 49205 Hasbergen.