Insights into our daily work

Here we report at irregular intervals on the work of the geoscientists, geopark and mine guides, tourism experts and planners behind the scenes of the Geopark. Look forward to new insights into our daily work at the desk, in the Geopark, in the visitor mines and on research excavations.

No. 2 – Mine maintenance

"Hühn" Visitor Mine, Brotterode-Trusetal, 13 April 2022

Today we are talking to the trained miner and operations manager of the "Hühn" visitor mine, Thomas Kaebel from Brotterode-Trusetal. Together with his colleagues from the association Bergbau und Heimat Trusetal e.V., he is responsible, among other things, for mine tours and the technical maintenance of the visitor mine.

Thomas, tell us what you do in mine maintenance, abbreviated to "GU" in miners' language.

Essentially, we are responsible for the safety and maintenance of the visitor mine. It starts with daily safety checks, continues with structural repairs, and ends with measuring gas concentrations and ensuring that the mine is well ventilated. The work is especially hard when massive stamps have to be renewed and the tunnels have to be relined so that our visitors remember a safe mining experience and nothing falls on their heads.

When do you do all this?

Most of the mine maintenance takes place in the winter months, when visitor activity is still at a standstill, i.e. shortly before the start of the season. That's when we have our hands full, repairing the damage that water penetration has caused to the wooden fixtures. The mine devours huge amounts of wood in the process. From time to time, the technical installations such as lighting and power supply for the compressors also have to be checked. Actually, as in any business, something always breaks down. Even if it's just a small light bulb. In the mine, however, even that is a challenge because you can't just go to the materials store and get a replacement. You have to think carefully about what to do and how, because some of the ways are long and difficult.


Let's stay on the subject of long distances. How far does the mine actually reach underground?

In active times, you could walk from Atterode to Atzerode, which is quite a distance. Today, however, that is no longer possible, because some of the galleries and shafts are under water and most of them have been closed down because mining ceased with the fall of the Berlin Wall more than 30 years ago. It is also life-threatening because the galleries are no longer regularly secured and are no longer adequately ventilated. It would not be a good idea to go in there!

What would you describe as the most exciting thing about your job?

It's definitely the mining history around Trusetal, which we want to bring closer to our visitors. Here in Trusetal and the surrounding area, mining was carried out for centuries, so we have a very rich mining history. The diverse geology of our area with its ore and spar deposits is also very interesting - it is the basis of our mining.

What do you wish for the future of the "Hühn" visitor mine?

That we can welcome more visitors again! The "Hühn" visitor mine is unique in the region and offers many exciting discoveries and interesting facts about centuries of mining on the southern edge of the Thuringian Forest. In the meantime, the mine has become a cultural and industrial-historical treasure that we would like to develop further. But this is only possible if all those responsible pull together and are aware of the potential of our mine. The fact that Brotterode-Trusetal is part of the UNESCO Global Geopark Thuringia Inselsberg - Drei Gleichen makes us very confident that we can achieve something together. In 2020, with financial support from the state and the city, we were already able to renovate the dilapidated wooden bridge to the spar bunker, the Trusetal mining trail (GeoRoute 16) is currently being revised, and we have many ideas for other exciting projects that will increase the attractiveness of the visitor mine. However, I am concerned about the new generation of mine guides and technical staff, i.e. trained miners. That is an important point, which we hope to get under control over time. If our concept works and the guests come to us, then I see a good future for our visitor mine.

Thomas, thank you very much for the interview. We wish you and your team every success with your plans!

No. 1 - The work behind the Geopark's collections

"Hühn" visitor mine, Brotterode-Trusetal, 18 March 2022

Whether fossils, minerals, ores or rocks - behind every exhibition, presentation or even just a photo is the work on the collections available in the Geopark, which is usually not visible to the public. This includes a professional inventory of the pieces on site and in a database as well as the photographic recording for documentation or for publications. Geopark geologist Stephan Brauner supports this work with specialist knowledge and photographic technology - as here with the recording of the mineralogical and historical collection of the "Hühn" visitor mine in Brotterode-Trusetal.

The aim is to document the collection(s) as completely as possible, to secure the information about the collection pieces and to add to it if necessary, because a good collection consists not only of the pieces themselves, but also of the most varied information about the chemical composition, origin, circumstances of the find and the finder. This sometimes requires detective work and the deciphering of old manuscripts and collecion labels in Kurrent or Sütterlin.