Today we will take a tour in a place out of common. Let me invite you to a special visit in the Bergwerk Käpfnach, a genuine coal mine located in the picturesque town of Horgen, on the shores of the Zurich Lake.
Nowadays, most of Swiss energy consumption is covered with nuclear and hydro power. Therefore, coal mines like the one in Horgen are no longer needed. They remain however witnesses of the industrial heritage of the region.
The entire area of the Käpfnach coal mine is large, including around 80 kilometres of tunnels below the Zimmerberg mountain.
To move the coal around such area man needed help. I have heard that in some coal mines they used horses to do this work! How outrageous. I did not receive a clear answer how these wagons were moved around, but looking at their weight I can only trust this was steam power or electricity.
Look, here comes a little model of the mine. This definitely looks like a locomotive. What a relief, no horses were harmed here my friends. We can get in!
First we can take a look at the overground museum, where different types of coal are exhibited. In the Käpfnach mine the so-called brown coal was mined.
But looking at artefacts in a museum is no fun. So let's jump on the red train called Barbara. Saint Barbara is the holy patron of miners, who celebrate with great care her day, being 4th December. The inscription on top of the tunnel says "Glück auf!" which is a traditional greeting of German-speaking miners, expressing a wish for successful mining and safe return on the ground.
The little red train will take us inside the tunnels that used to be production lines. They are narrow just enough to accommodate the train, so you can literally touch the walls next to you.
They are also low, so helmets are a must.
The brown coal is not really brown. But it is also not black like the charcoal you would normally have in mind when thinking of a mine.
The layer of coal in Käpfnach is only one meter tall, which you can clearly see here.
Did you notice the thermometer? Do you have any idea how many centigrade are here? Less than ten in fact.
Do not be surprised, after all we are 500 meters below ground level.
I think that you are staring to realise that mining in a place like that was not a piece of cake. It was dark, cold and narrow. The miners were digging the coal out lying on the floor, in a hole that was just about one meter high.
Then, they were putting the coal into the mining wagons so that it is brought up.
The Käpfnach mine was mainly used during war time. First during the French-Prussian war in 1870, then during the First and Second World War. It was finally closed in 1947. A group of enthusiasts keeps the memory of the old times by introducing tourists to the hard life of the miners.
I hope that you have enjoyed this unusual trip below the surface of the Earth. Now the last stage. Grab your carbide lamps and try to find your way out! Glück auf!"