|Location:||Neuves-Maisons. Metting point: iron bar gate at the mine.|
All year after appointment.
Adults EUR 4, Children (7-18) EUR 2, School Pupils EUR 2, Unemployed EUR 3, Students EUR 3.
|Light:||Incandescent Electric Light System|
|Guided tours:||D=1 h.|
|Address:||Atelier Memoire Ouvriere (A.M.O.), Place de la gare, 48 bis rue général Thiry, 54230 Neuves-Maisons, Tel: +33-383-471908, Fax: +33-383-472180. 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.
|1884||new railway Le Coucou links mine and furnace.|
|1885||four mines united by a decree of the mining authority, which resulted in the formation of a single mine.|
|24-JUN-1894||syndicat de mineurs (Miners Union) founded.|
|1992||inscribed as monument historique (Historical Monument).|
|2009||Agence du Patrimoine et de la Culture des Industries Néodomiennes (APCI, Agency for Industrial Culture and Heritage Neuves-Maisons) founded.|
The Mine du Val de Fer (Iron Valley Mine) is one of numerous iron mines in the Lorraine. The rich iron ores were one of the reasons, why Germany and France quarreled about the ownership of this area during the early 20th century. One piece of this puzzle are the explorations of Victor de Lespinats, a mining engineer from the Ecole des mines de Paris, in 1869. He had to stop his exploration because of the outbreak of the German-French war in 1870. But the industrial revolution needed iron, and so Lespinats and seventeen other shareholders founded the Société Métallurgique de la Haute-Moselle (Smelting Company Upper Moselle) in 1872. In 1874 the first minette ores were extracted from this mine.
The problem with the minete ores were the difficulties to smelt it into good iron. The ores had impurities, namely phosphorous, which could not be removed easily at first. In 1878 the British inventor Sidney Gilchrist Thomas discovered an inexpensive industrial process for the mass-production of steel from ores with such impurities. Oxygene was blown into the molten iron ore and the phosphrous oxidzed, a process called basic Bessemer. Now the minette ores could be converted much cheaper into high quality iron.
The next development was the construction of an ore train named Le Coucou (The Cuckoo) which linked the mine with the furnace at Neuves Maisons. In 1885 the concessions of the four mines Val-de-fer, Val-Fleurion, Maron-nord, and Fond de Monveaux were united by a decree of the mining authority, which resulted in the formation of a single mine.
The mine was also the location of social changes and labor movement. In 1890 there was a strike in the mine, in 1894 the Union was founded, and finally in 1916 the occupation of disabled and women for surface jobs was introduced.
After World War II the demand for iron increased dramatically. The results were massive modernizations of the mining and the smelting. However, during the sixties the internationalization made the local iron too expensive. It was not able to compete with the low prices on the world market. And so after a last boom the iron mining ended abruptly in 1968.
In 1977 a group of interested people, including some former miners, founded the Atelier de Mémoire Ouvrière (AMO) which restored some galleries and made them safe for visits. This group is part of the Foyer des Jeunes et d'Education Populaire (Center for Youth and Public Education). When the city of Neuves-Maisons becomes owner of the mine Carreau minier du Val de Fer in 1980, they start to restore it. They opened on the Journées du Patrimoine (Heritage Days) and were a great success with more than 1,000 visitors. The mine was declared a monument historique (Historical Monument) in 1992. Since 2009 the Agence du Patrimoine et de la Culture des Industries Néodomiennes (APCI, Agency for Industrial Culture and Heritage Neuves-Maisons) which was founded by the municipality, is developing the site.
The mine visits are guided by former miners of the AMO, who show the restored underground mine. They are made only after appointment, there are no regular tours. The mine is open on special events, namely the European Heritage Days.