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History of Mining in Český Krumlov

(including some mineralogical and geological objects of interest)

The surroundings of Český Krumlov has always had a rich mining tradition involving not only graphite mines but silver, gold and other metals including minerals and rocks. The very history of mining and processing graphite reaches back to year the 2000 BC when ancient Celts used to extract graphite and produced fire-proof ceramics.

Český Krumlov, graphite mine, miners in festive uniforms, historical photo

The outset of gold mining in South Bohemian gold-bearing deposits touches even further to the past. Under the Rosenbergs' rule, silver mining culminated here in 16th century as well as in the region of Rudolfov (near České Budějovice).

1. Gold, silver and polymetalic ore mining within the Český Krumlov region

The ore field in the Český Krumlov region belonged to the most important silver and gold deposits in South Bohemia. Even though a major part of the mines laid under the current town and the mining proceeded for more than 350 years, few particular and descriptive data has been preserved either on single mines location, extent and lodes and ores.

Zlatá Koruna school, classroom aid from 18th century, picture of miners at work

Mining for silver and gold has had an extensive history and tradition in this region. However, even though chroniclers wrote about rich deposits in ancient times without giving any source, we are not able to tell exactly when it all began. For example, a local name "Scatter" (gold-bearing deposit) undoubtedly relates to the ancient gold panning era in rivers around Český Krumlov.

The first written mention on silver and gold mining around and within Český Krumlov comes from 1475. In those days, the brothers Heinrich and Peter Wok von Rosenberg granted five miners, including those from Alpine countries, "right of mining". The privilege also mentioned some ancient roll-aways that referred us to the ancient minings.

..The best age for mining dawned in 1519-1550. A smelting facility was set up in Krumlov and processed ores imported from the Ratibořice highlands.

Under the rule of Wilhelm von Rosenberg, mining in the region was still successful. It was even proved by one of his letters saying that the huge costs he had invested into mining paid for itself twice. Any further documentation on his ruling period, however, is missing.

The most often mentioned miners of those days were Jiří Stingelheimer von Turnteingen, Šebestián Winner von Salzburg, Hans Stengel von Augsburg (royal mintmaster in Linz), Antonín Rummel von Weltenau, Petr Doudlebský and others.

Further, the mention of the re-establishment of mining rights was granted by the descendant of Wilhelm von Rosenberg, Peter Wok von Rosenberg, in June 24, 1582. Miners and clercs were referred here to a so-called "mining rule of Jáchymov".

Temporal display of workshop, where  precious metals were processed  and their quality tested, reproduction of woodcut from 1574 In August 29, 1603, Emperor Rudolf II. granted Český Krumlov a re-established mining privilege with tax release and dismissed the necessity of buying up gold and silver from poorer ore deposits that produced less than a tollar revenue per field. A decline in mining was thus diverted. The decline was caused in particular by floods of large and deep mines; more and more floods could not have been managed by means of the known drainage systems of those days.

In1622, a new era in mining history of Český Krumlov began. The Eggenbergs became the owners of the Krumlov estates and, even though for a short period, they succeeded in silver and gold mining. Extracted silver was used for minting their own coins (see coinage). This short but productive period was interrupted by the thirty-years war that stopped the mining completely. There isno documentation available from that period.

In 1719, the Schwarzenbergs took over the mines, but they never interfered significantly with the mining history. Municipal council tried several times to re-establish silver and gold mining within some adits but never succeeded. The last attempt to mine was carried on in St. Johann Nepomuk's gallery under Křížová hora (Cross Hill). In 1849, then, mining history ended for good within the Český Krumlov region.

Český Krumlov and surroundings, map of old mines where silver and gold were mined Following are the most important historical mine localities:

  1. Cross Mountain - The northern slopes of the Cross Mountain involved the most excessive ancient mining within the region. Stingelhammer Guild tracked the "main" 0.5 Mts. strong lode into a 200 Mts. depth. Other guilds involved there later on were St. Lawrence, St. Cross, Three Brothers, a hereditary adit called Golden Eagle, an adit of Johann Nepomuk (218 Mts. long).

  2. Horní (Upper) Gate - Main guilds: St. Christopher (with St. Linhart, St. Magdalena and St. John the Baptist' mines), and King's or Queen's guild.

  3. The Scatter - Following guilds are stated: Schwatzer, Virgin Mary, Barbora, Albert's adit and a hereditary adit called Habakuk (over 200 Mts. long).

  4. Přísečná - a hereditary adit of St. John was located south of Přísečna. It was approximately 145 Mts. long and opened out as a pit.

  5. Domoradice - mining was carried out in Nove Zvolani, Johann Nepomuk and Three Kings southwards of the village; then in 16th century in Holy Trinity mine (the local name "Trinity" has been used till these days).

  6. Dobrkovice - St. Sebastian's pit used to be called "At the waterfall" (today "At the fountain").

  7. Surroundings of Krumlov's Castle - according to N. Miniberger (1955), while extracting graphite, miners often discovered very old pits south of the Castle that probably related to the ancient-time precious metals mining within the region.

  8. Area located south of the town - several ancient pits open out to the both banks of Vltava river. The Holy Spirit Mine was the biggest of them (its name lasts until today). Both Hessenbrunn and Anna pits were quite important, too. Nicholas Pit was to be found on Plešivec.

  9. Other regions - there were some mines by Zlatá Koruna, Spolí, Sloupenec, Mackovice, Zátěs, Mirkovice, Věžovatá pláň, Zátoň, Rožmitál, Rožmberk, Svéráz, Hašlovice and others. However, considering either the extension of mining or revenues, those regions are hardly comparable to mines within mine fields of Český Krumlov.

Geological conditions:

Geotectonic map of the Český Krumlov region Two series of Moldanubicum meet in the vicinity of Český Krumlov - one of them "uniform", formed by biotite paragneisses and migmatites, the other "diverse", containing biotite paragneisses, limestones, erlans, amphibolites, gneisses, graphite related rocks etc. The series are parted with a tectonic borderline.

Ore mineralization has created mineralized fault zones. They are actually filled in fissures created close to the tectonic border between the two Moldanubicum series. In most cases, however, no regular ore veins are found.

The ore veins in the area of Český Krumlov include mainly the following minerals: pyrite, arsenopyrite, sphalerite, pyrrhotine, chalcopyrite, galenite, quartz and calcite. Most of the extracted silver came from galenite which contains nodules of Ag-containing minerals. Gold carrier is probably electrum ( a rare natural alloy of gold and silver, with Au content up to 2%).

Thickness of ore "veins" varied from several centimeters up to one meter (exceptionally). Maximum length could be estimated at 1000 meters, however, it pertains so-called "main vein" only. Side veins length did not supposedly exceed 500 meters. Behind the vein's bow, the track went on in maximum 30 meters depth under the level of Vltava (it could run more than 260 meters deep into plain terrain).

According to F. Pošepný (1895), over 100 kgs of gold and 6000 kgs of silver were extracted during the best times. Volume of silver extracted by single guilds differed. For example, ore from the "main" Stingelhammer lode contained approximately 200 - 250 gr./t of Ag. Ore from St. Lawrence mine contained approximately 65 gr./t of Ag and, exceptionally, up to 1300 gr./t of Ag. Both details come from 1559.

Chronological data:
1475 - the oldest written mention on silver and gold mining within the region;

1519 - 1550 - best times for mining (establishment of ore smelting facility);

1519 - 1523 - the Rosenbergs extended further "mining privileges";

1526 - King Louis Jagellon awarded the town a coat of arms and a Red Seal right which other independent Mining towns had (done on request of Heinrich von Rosenberg);

1530 - "General Mining Privilege" issued by Johann von Rosenberg;

1549 - following joint miners were granted further significant privileges - Albrecht von Guttenstein zu Žirovnice, Jeroným Šlik, count of Passaum, Ulrich Holidský von Sternberg;

1555 - Wilhelm, ruler of Rosenbergs, granted mines in Krumlov the privilege and re-establishment of mining;

1582 - Right of Mining was re-established again - miners and clerical workers were referred to a so-called " Mining Order of Jáchymov" - based upon the will of Petr Wok von Rosenberg;

1603 - Right of Mining Reform with tax dismissal - Emperor Rudolf II. von Habsburg (an attempt for another mine boom);

1622 - the Eggenbergs' reattempted mining and minted their own coins;

1719 - the Schwarzenbergs became the new owners;

1849 - mining closed under Křížova hora (Cross Hill) which meant the end of golden and silver ore mining in the region;

2. Graphite Mining

Graphite While silver, gold and ore mining had consequently declined and disappeared completely by the end of the 16th century, mining for graphite took a new significant role in the economy of the 18 - 19th centuries. Graphite had obviously been utilized in the Bronze Age and in later periods was utilized for so-called graphite ceramics excavated out of Celtic oppidus at Třísov, 8 km from Český Krumlov, which was dated to 800 BC.

Pencil production started only after a graphite deposit discovery at Barrowdale in northern England in 1546.

First mention of graphite mining in Černá at Hůrka (Český Krumlov region) came from 1767. It was not proved but probable that graphite mining had started even before 1767.

Graphite deposits utilization was proceeded within two main regions:

  1. Černá v Pošumaví and surroundings
  2. Český Krumlov and surroundings

ad 1) By the first half of the 19th century, the major part of mining was controlled by The Schwarzenberg Mining Association, however, a new boom in graphite mining caused a "graphite rush" in 1846. Mining in villages of Černá, Mokrá, Hůrka and Bližná significantly expanded. Those of Schwarzenberg, Eggenberg and Mokřany Associations were the most important ones.

Ida, Pavel, Prince, Jan, Rudolf and many others, nowadays flooded by Lipno Lake, were quite well-known in those days. Joseph's and Ferdinand's pits can still be entered through a stony portal ( 2 km far from Bližná village).

Almost a thousand miners worked in graphite mines during the seventies of the last century.

Český Krumlov and surroundings, map of mine works ad 2) From the 1820's, graphite was extracted without permission in some places by local businessmen and farmers. First measure loans come from the thirties only. Most significant miner of those days was A. Neveklovský. Only after the first half of the sixties, the so-called Krumlov Association owned by the Porak brothers edged him out (1856). It had been operating in the southern part of the town (Plešivec) until the I. World War.

Several miners operated within the north-east outskirts of Český Krumlov (Domoradice-Přísečná). Joseph's pit owned by Eggert Association (1879) and located southwards of Oudolen Mine was very well-known for its 34 Mts. depth.

In second half of the 19th century, more mines were located around Spolí, Větřní, Němeč, Dobrkovice, Slupenec and Kladný.

Arnošt Mine (by the Castle Garden) and other pits opened out on the left bank of Vltava in Rybarska street in Český Krumlov. The later development of graphite mining of 20th century began after WW II. in deposits of Domoradice, Lazec, and particularily in Městský vrch (Town Peak) where mining controlled Lazec Mine was carried out as well.

Geological conditions:
Grafity jsou geologicky vázány na pestrou sérii moldanubika, procházející oblastí od německého Pasova přes oblast Lipna a Českého Krumlova k českobudějovické pánvi.

Grafitonosné struktury (bliženská, mokřanská, podkleťská, domoradická) dosahují délky cca až 10 km. Grafitické polohy se především vyskytují na kontaktu biotitických pararul a krystalických vápenců. Směrná délka dobývaných ložisek se pohybuje od 300 metrů do 1 km. Mocnost bývá průměrně okolo 2-6 m (max. 25 m), úklon od 35 až do 80 stupňů. Výskyt grafitových poloh směrem do hloubky u Českého Krumlova byl potvrzen až 350 m a u Novosedel až 1500 m.

Obsahy uhlíku na těžených lokalitách se pohybují mezi 10 - 30 %. Předpokládá se, že grafit je organogenního původu a vznikl regionální metamorfózou bituminózních sedimentů (grafické ruly a vápence).

Mokrá near Černá v Pošumaví, view of drainage gallery Josef Mokrá near Černá v Pošumaví, portal of drainage gallery Josef

Z hlediska mineralogického se v grafitických ložiscích vyskytují pyrit, pyrhotin, kalcit, galenit, aragonit, evansit, stewensonit, granát, zoisit, molybdenit, torbernit, glockerit aj.

Chronological Data:
800-500 BC - graphite ceramics production (Celtic oppidum by Třísov, 8 km southwards from Ceský Krumlov);

1250- first historically evidenced mention on graphite mining within region of Šumava - graphite as a tax fee to the gentry - Pfaffenreuth settlement near Passau);

1432 - fireproof graphite jars production for alchemic trials;

1767 - first mentions of graphite extraction nearby Černá and Mokrá (extracted from surfaces and, after being finished manually, sold out to Austria and Bavaria);

1811 - graphite announced an important raw material - extraction carried out according to mining rules;

1846 - demand for graphite increased - new mining associations founded (total 38 registered);

1850 - main associations: Eggert's, Prince Schwarzenberg's, Krumlov association owned by Porak Brothers (1865) and Mokřany association;

1865 - a deposit opened on Plešivec - Teresa Deposit, four 300 Mts. long pits, Barbora Pit from 1872, main extraction pit named Arnošt from 1893 (-90 Mts.), Teresa Pit(-106 Mts.), end of mining in 1925;

1886 - Schwarzenberg buys Eggert's mine property;

1870-1905 - mining at Městský vrch (Porák Brothers' claims - Anna, Jan, Marie);

1913-1931 - mining carried out by České tuhové závody (Czech Graphite Works) in Hůrka at Černá;

1930 - general mining decline, maintenance works only;

1942 - total end of Schwarzenberg's Mines;

1948 - nationalization of all mines;

1957 - extraction re-establishment in Bližná, Václav Pit (still active);

1958-1974 - mining in Domoradice, Odolen Pit - Ore Mines Works in Příbram;

Český Krumlov, graphite mine, working with a mine drill

1962 - beginning of mining in Lazec Mine;

1975 - launch of mining in deposit at Městský vrch;


Further information:
History of Mining in the Český Krumlov Region