Charles V, Augustus the Strong, Johann Wolfgang von Goethe: Royals and famous poets always made part of the many visitors to Tarnowskie Góry in Upper Silesia. They came to see a cradle of European metal ore mining. The first silver mines are dating back to the late Middle Ages. In 1526 the landlord of the area, Duke of Opole John II called the Good Duke, granted Tarnowskie Góry the status of an independent mining town. Two years later he installed one of the first mining acts in Europe called “Ordunek Gorny”. Following a temporary decline due to numerous wars and plagues newly discovered silver deposits led to a rise of silver mining operations in the 18th century. In order to drain the water that flooded the underground galleries Tarnowskie Góry became one of the first place in Europe to witness the implementation of a steam engine: In 1788 Fryderyk Wilhelm Hrabia von Reden, by then the Prussian minister of industry, arranged the machine’s transfer from England and its installation in the Deep Adit Fryderyk.
The mining industry in Tarnowskie Góry ceased in 1912. It left behind a unique maze of subterranean gangways, rooms, pits and drain adits the width of which is estimated to surpass 150 kilometres. The “Black Trout” Adit, named after the fish living in its waters and housing bats as well, is the final segment of the Deep Adit Fryderyk. The idea of making it accessible to the public by boats was conceived already before World War II. In 1957 the Society of Friends of Tarnowskie Góry Region was able to successfully carry out this project for the first time. The historical silver mine, just a few kilometres to the east, can be visited since 1976. One of the highlights is the elevator ride down to the pit. The following underground tour is 1.700 metres long of which a 270 metres section is travelled by boat. The adjacent heritage park of steam machinery boasts 31 exhibits including a narrow gauge locomotive made by Henschel & Son in 1906. Both mines – the “Black Trout” Adit and the historical silver mine – are part of the Industrial Monuments Route of the Silesian Voivodeship and one of the Anchor Points on European Route of Industrial Heritage. The Society of Friends of Tarnowskie Góry Region applied for to be included on the World Heritage List.
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