Carreau Rodolphe

Clair de Mine - Mine de Potasse Rodolphe


Useful Information

Location: Rue de Guebwiller, 68840 Pulversheim.
North of Mulhouse. A36 exit Mulhouse, N430 north, exit 5 Écomusée. A35 exit Enisheim, through Enisheim, D2 to Pulversheim, D429 towards Bollwiler. Signposted.
(47.846700, 7.281590)
Open: All year Wed 9, 14.
Kalistoire 9-18.
European Heritage Days 10-17.
Open house during summer one Sun monthly.
[2022]
Fee: free.
Requested donation: Adults EUR 10, Children (6-16) EUR 5.
[2022]
Classification: MineSalt Mine Potassium Mine
Light: LightIncandescent Electric Light System
Dimension:  
Guided tours: D=2.5 h, L=500 m.
V=400,000/a.
Photography:  
Accessibility:  
Bibliography:  
Address: Association Groupe Rodolphe, Rue de Guebwiller, 68840 Pulversheim, Tel: +33-389-48-86-54, Cell: +33-627-70-63-43. 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.

History

1910 mine opened.
1911-1913 Rodolphe I shaft sunk.
JAN-1915 engine house destroyed by a bomb,
1925-1928 Rodolphe II shaft sunk.
23-JUL-1940 greatest disaster in the history of Alsace potash mining kills 25 people.
1954 Rodolphe II shaft becomes the extraction shaft for the entire Bollwiller division.
09-JUL-1976 mine closed.
1980 begin of demolitions, with cloakroom, factory, and bromine plant.
1984 both shafts backfilled.
1986 potash-mine acquired by the Écomusée d'Alsace and demolitions stopped.
1994 non-profit Association Groupe Rodolphe founded.
2001 historic standard-gauge tourist trains.
2008 as the result of a procédure de sauvegarde (safeguarding procedure) sold by the Écomusée to the Conseil Général du Haut-Rhin for the symbolic price of EUR 1.

Geology

The basin at the southern end of the Alsace contains the biggest deposit of potash in France. Potash is a salt, potassium carbonate, which is mined since antiquity and needed for the manufacture of glass, soap, and fertilizer. Very important is it for agriculture because it improves water retention, yield, nutrient value, taste, colour, texture and disease resistance of food crops. The mine contained a combination of sodium chloride (salt) and potassium chloride (potash) which is called sylvinite. Between 1910 and 2002 the mines of the potassium basin produced 567 million tons of raw salt or approximately 140 million tons of potassium chloride.

Description

The mine de potasse Rodolphe is one of the few potash mines of the Bassin potassique Alsace which has been preserved. Several mining buildings are still there, also two headframes and two restored extraction machines. The Rodolphe 1 headframe, of the German type, has metallic lattice beams. The Rodolphe 2 headframe, of the English type, was built with reinforced concrete. It is the only one of its kind in France. Both headframes still have their engine, both were lately restored by the Rodolphe Group. In the open air part of the exhibition are also numerous machines and vehicles which represent the mechanisation of mining between 1950 and 2002. This includes full height and thin layer cutting machines, transport machines, tracing machines, and fans for fresh air. The museum shows wheels, skips, cuffats, rescue and safety equipment, and tools from various periods.

The area of the former mine was acquired in 1986 by the Écomusée d'Alsace, one of the largest open-air museums in Europe. Started by a handful of enthusiasts who wanted to save authentic Alsatian houses from destruction. They purchased the mine for the huge areas of slack heaps, which were re-cultivated, to re-erect buildings from other parts of the Alsace. It became an ensemble of 70 houses, grouped in villages and quarters. With this purchase they also got the mine buildings and headframes and included it into the museum. This prevented the further destruction of the mine buildings, which had started after the mine closed. The Rodolphe mine is 1.2 km from the center of the museum, and it was reached on a train ride from the historic 1844 Bollwiller train station. The train rides were started in 2001, when only a single train daily was scheduled during August. The number of trains subsequently increased, but still trains were only running during high season. They also created an underground tour through the mine, where a 500 m long tunnel had been opened to the public.

When the museum had financial problems around 2006, they almost closed, and as a result the mine was separated from the museum and sold in 2008. It is now owned by the Conseil Général du Haut-Rhin, in other words the government, and the exhibition is operated by the non-profit organisation Groupe Rodolphe. They stopped the underground tours for unknown reasons and renamed the site Carreau Rodolphe (Rudolph Site). The Clair de Mine multimedia show, which explains the geology, history and technology of the potassium mining is still shown.

During the operation of the mine Rodolphe, during some 75 years, about 46 million tons of rocks have been extracted. On the surface there are the huge piles of schist, marl, and rock salt, which are a remains of the mining. Much of it has been re-cultivated, but the salt from the heaps is still dissolved by the rainwater and causes a threat to the groundwater.