Mining educational trail
Mining fame of Nova Bana
Mining educational trail
The educational trail leads past the most significant mining-technical and historic sights related with mining of precious-metal ores in Nová Baňa. Trail is divided into two historical-thematic circuits. A Trail (black) is 4.3 km long with 210 m height-difference and leads past medieval surface- and underground-mining sights; leads in more challenging forest terrain in the area of Mýtny vrch hill and Gupňa hill, in southern part of deposit. B Trail (green) is 5.6 km long with 130 m height-difference, less challenging and leads mainly in built-up area in Vŕšky. It presents mainly 16th – 19th century mining including tools and devices for ore processing and of mining water management system.
(old plant). This shaft was chosen by English constructor Isaac Potter who built his atmospheric steam engine there. The engine operated in the shaft
between 1722 – 1729 and is considered the first functioning steam-driven pump device outside Great Britain. To make pumping of mining water moreeffective new shaft named František was carved out at the end of the 18th century. Tajch as the new water reservoir was also built and supplied wheels pumping water and ore-processing plants (‘stupy’). That enabled to process poorer ores more effectively. Also, thanks to these measures last boom of local mining came at the turn of the 18th and 19th century. Active mining, more and more unprofitable since the thirties of the 19th century, was discontinued in 1887. Attempts to sell off the mines to private investors were not successful as well as attempts to restore mining with help of state by the end of the First Czechoslovak Republic.
Ore deposits of precious metals in Nová Baňa are situated on southwest slopes of Háj (Himmelreich) hill, on the contact of Pohronský Inovec and Vtáčnik mountains. The deposit belongs to low-to-intermediate sulphidation type of epithermal vein deposits related to Neogene volcanism. It has developed in the environment of strongly altered volcanic rocks, mainly andesites and rhyolites. Ore veins are spatially and genetically connected with the Háj massive and follow the almost parallel north-south fault system. Veins were filled mainly with quartz and its low-temperature varieties (chalcedony, jasper and rare amethyst). In the beginning of mining, during the medieval period, the high-grade gold and silver ores (mainly acanthite and native gold/electrum) have been mined out from subsurface
parts of veins, mostly in the area of Gupňa hill. The low-grade pyrite ores were mostly mined in 18 and 19 century in the mining area of Vŕšky. In the deposit, the following rare mineral species could be found: proustite, pyrargyrite, matildite, primary orpiment, very rare uytenbogaardtite and secondary corkite as well as pharmacosiderite – the most well-known mineral species from Nová Baňa. Localsamples of pharmacosiderite from the end of the 19 century are preserved in expositions of numerous world museums. The significant veins are named: Reissenschuch (in the surroundings of Gupňa hill), Kreuz, Jozef, Jakub, Elisabeth and Laurenz (in the area of Vŕšky), Katarína, Matej, Maximilián and Ferdinand (below the Námestie slobody square and the parish church, close from current location). In the area of Calvary and Šibeničný vrch hill, the veins named Johana, Nepomuk and Krakauer were exploited, and the Freischurf vein was definitely mined out in the northern part of the town (Neufang). Main mining constructions in Nová Baňa were the adits named Reissenschuch, Finer and Ringl and a shaft named Klingsbittner in the southern part of deposit (under the Gupňa hill). Most exploited shafts were named Althandel, Himmelreich, Maria Geburt, František and Jozef, as well as adits Svornosť, Trojkráľová, Terézia and Ján Krstiteľ, were located in Vŕšky mining district. Other adits included Svätodušná under Cingrík hill, Kreuz in the proximity of town centre under Zvonička belfry, Johana and Nepomuk under Calvary hill and Sieben Kunsten in Neufang, in the northern part of the town.
Ján z Kríža (Kreuz) Lower Adit
Location: In the town urban area, on public land outside the no. 837 house at the Štúrova Street, near crossing with the Májová and Pod Gupňou streets, near the town centre (18° 38′ 32.9″, 48° 25′ 28.2″) and at an altitude of 226 m a. s. l. The adit entrance is under the road with a bridge above the adit. The entrance was renovated in May 2017 and since then is also protected with a decorative metal grilles.
From the Ján z Kríža lower Adit (along with the Upper Adit located in the valley approx. 100 m in an easterly direction to ‘Zvonička’) the ore from the short Kreuz Vein running in a southwest – northeast direction was being mined. It is the southernmost mine in the northern mining district.
The first written evidence on the adit dates back to 1764. Only seven miners worked there back in 1769, in 1786 the number increased to twelve and the mining plant made a profit of 250 Guldens. As a consequence of long-term losses, the operation was discontinued in 1805. In 1882, in days of the mining decline in Nová Baňa, only prospecting was being conducted in the adit.
Near the Kreuz Lower Adit, the Graner Hereditary Adit, that was dug through important operating Kreuz and Tobias shafts, is located. The Kreuz Shaft enabled access to the drainage level where the important branch called Herman’ crosscut conjoined. The Herman’ crosscut ran in a direction under today’s Námestie slobody Square. Two main branches of the Hereditary Aditconnected near the Tobias Shaft, approx. 100 m northwesterly: Graner and Neufang branches (for further information see the text on the Graner-Neufang Hereditary Adit information board – B13 station in the Banícke námestie Square).
Looking into the Lower Adit entrance, the stone reinforcement typical in the 18th – 19th century can be seen. According to maps from the 19th century the Ján z Kríža Lower Adit and the Ján z Kríža Upper Adit are connected underground with crosscut with winze, so this mining workings is a continuous system of underground passageways approx. 1 km long. These mines are currently not accessible since the passageway of the Lower Adit is filled with an extensive amount of the ochre sediment.
Ján z Kríža upper adit (Kreuz)
Location: Near the town built-up area, in the ‘Na Zvoničku’ valley (18.643471°, 48.425377°) and at an altitude of 255 m above sea level. An entrance is above the gully level (on the other side right opposite the forest path). The entrance was renovated in 2018 and is also protected with a decorated metal grilles.
The Ján z Kríža upper adit is the uppermost level of the Kreuz vein mining. This adit with the lower adit, winze and underground deposits form a complex of mining workings on this vein in the southern part of the central vein system. These mining workings were mined at the same time – during the second half of the 18th century. Based on its mineral filling the Kreuz vein is classified as so-called pyritous vein with pyrite as a prevailing ore mineral in form of little grains in quartz veins. The pyrite oxidises as a result of exogenic factors and changes to iron oxides and hydroxides (ochres) with the characteristic ochre colour. Pyritous ores (ore metal-like minerals) are classified as the low-grade ones with more demanding metallurgical processing technology. A large mullock heap can be seen in front of the adit.
Location: In the valley heading to Maria Chapel in Kohútovo, an abandoned shaft entrance was located the most likely in today garden belonging to the no. 553 land,
(18.643074°, 48.428965°) at the Mariánska ulica Street (the area of Vŕšky) at an altitude of 262 m above sea level; a large waste dump on the no. 548 land also belongs
to the workings.
The Althandel Shaft was the most significant mining workings in Nová Baňa regarding the economic importance and the scope of mining. To-date, the area of the shaft entrance where mining engines and operating building were located in the past, is called ‘Gápeľ’ (horse driven hoisting device).
There were six levels in the shaft. The first level – Baptista Adit – was located at a depth of approx. 35 m. The shaft reached the level of the Graner – Neufang Hereditary Adit (drainage level to Hron river) at a depth of 68 m. Under the Hereditary Adit three deep levels were dug: the first at a depth of approx. 25 m, the second at a depth of approx. 50 m and the last one at the bottom of the shaft at a depth of approx. 70 m below the Hereditary Adit. The total shaft depth was approx. 140 – 150 m.
The first written evidence on the shaft dates back to the second half of the 16th century. At the beginning, a high-grade ores mainly from the Jakub and Jozef veins were mined, later also (in the 19th century) the pyritous ores from the Vavrinec vein. A quartz gangue with residues of ores containing Au up to 6 g/t can be found in a waste dump under the shaft to this day. Ores from the surface to the Graner Hereditary Adit level were completely mined-out until the end of the 17th century. This Hereditary Adit was used for gravity draining of the shaft to the Hron River. The problems had come as the mining advanced below the Hereditary Adit and then it had been possible only with non-stop water pumping from the deeper workings. A number of variously-driven pumping engines were being installed on the shaft: horse driven hoist pumps and various waterwheels.
The so-called ‘fire engine’ by English engineer Isaac Potter inspired by the Newcomen engine should have been a solution to problems with water pumping. This engine was operating in the shaft from 1722 – 1729 and was the first engine of its type in Europe (except for England). The steam engine on the Althandel Shaft was dealing with several problems for the first two years. It had been in the full operation since 1724 spring as some adjustments were made by J. E. Fischer von Erlach. A number of the European experts and scholars came to see this engine as a great European rarity. Nová Baňa is indelibly imprinted on the history of technology just thanks to this engine.
Despite this the mining plant had not been able to maintain the profitability and after the private mining association had come apart it was administered by the state and the town. By the end of the 18th and at the beginning of the 19th century the Althandel mining plant was again highly profitable thanks to the measures of J. Lill, the mine administrator. More than 150 workers worked in the shaft at that time. After only short period of relative prosperousness the shaft was again running at a loss from the first half of the 19th century to 1887 when the mining had been discontinued.
Šturc and Himmelreich Shaft
Location: Information board is located in the Vŕšky area – Gápeľ, above the upper edge of the vast collapsed surface stope named “Šturc”, in the proximity of likely Himmelreich Shaft mouth (18.641894, 48.430260), at an altitude of 295 m above sea level. The whole structure is located on no. 723 and 729 private lands.
An extensive terrain depression (Šturc), caused by mining activity, was the most likely created as a result of collapse of subsurface mining on the Alžbeta, Terézia and Vavrinec veins. The surface mining and later mining in the ‘pingen’ – shallow underground mining – were conducted here likely in the 14th and 15th century but maybe even earlier. The rich ores from the upper vein parts were mined at that time. The mine waste heaps from this extensive stope were mined again in the 17th and 18th century and their location was often the subject of territorial disputes among the owners of the mining fields in the Vŕšky area.
The extent of the surface stope (approx. 50×100 m with a depth of approx. 20 m) shows the prosperous ore mining in the Middle Ages. It can be assumed that the town prosperity at the turn of the 14th and 15th century was a result of profits from the mining there. Many significant buildings were built: Parish Church, monastery, St. Elisabeth’s Church and Hospital.
The ‘Sturz’ surface pit is plotted on almost all historical maps and mine topography plans from the 18th and 19th century. With the spreading of population and the built-up area expansion directly to the mining areas (Vŕšky) the slopes and bottom of the pit were adjusted for building family houses. Despite that the morphology and extension of the mining works is observable with the naked eye even today.
The Himmelreich Shaft was dug near the Šturc pit and reached to the Ján Krstiteľ Adit at a depth of approx. 60 m. The shaft mouth was located relatively high (at an altitude of 305 m above sea level) and its name was probably related to the name of close Himmelreich Hill (a historic name of to-date Háj – 710 m above sea level). The main purpose of the shaft was to make accessible the underground stopes on the Vavrinec vein at Ján Krstiteľ and Ján Evanjelista adits’ level. To achieve this, J. Lill suggested to develop the shaft again in 1781. The shaft mouth cannot be clearly seen today but the mining engine (hoist) – ‘gápeľ’ – was probably located in its proximity.
Narodenie Panny Márie Shaft
Location: In the forest above Vŕšky Street, above no. 743 land (18.643206°, 48.432825°) at an altitude of 263 m above sea level. Access to the shaft is possible by walking taking the forest paths from Vŕšky.
Narodenie Panny Márie (Mariae Geburt) Shaft is the hoisting and ventilating shaft which started to be dug on September 1, 1783 in Dreikönig mining field according to the drafts by J. Lill, mine administrator, presented two years before. When these drafts were being implemented, the mining in Nová Baňa experienced its last great boom at the turn of the 18th and 19th
century. Such massive investment as digging this shaft was possible only, provided the state became more involved in the mining in Nová Baňa.
Lill in his 1781 draft evaluated the administration of mines in the Althandel area by Entzler, member of mining association and shareholder, critically. He evaluated also the scope of possible supplies of Jakub Vein. Lill commissioned the digging of number of crosscuts between the levels for improving the ventilation of deeper stopes and suggested to dig a new transport and ventilating shaft – Narodenie Panny Márie Shaft. In 1795 total depth of the shaft reached 66 fthm. (145 m) to the Graner-Neufang Hereditary Adit level where digging ended. The shaft levels were Trojkráľová and Svornosť adits and their bottoms were used for mining and transport of ore out of rich northern parts of the Jozef and Jakub veins. A shallow hole (collapsed space) is now in the place where the shaft entrance had been. In the shaft area a large waste heap can be seen also, ‘halma’ in regional mining dialect (locality in this part of Vŕšky is called ‘Pod halmou’ to this day). A probable place of horse-driven hoist (‘gápeľ’) can also be clearly seen (according to illustrations of J. Lill map from 1795, B6-1 Picture).
František Shaft (Emperor František II. Shaft)
Location: In the town urban area, Vŕšky area, near intersection of Moyzesova, Kamenárska and Čierny Lúh streets (18.639053°, 48.435436°), at an altitude of 286 m above sea level on public land. The exact location of the shaft mouth cannot be clearly seen today and can only be deduced from historical maps.
The shaft project dates back to the end of the 18th century in connection with building of a water reservoir – Tajch – and mine water management system aimed at restoration of local mining prosperity. The shaft should have made accessible the deep parts of the Jakub Vein in the northern part of the deposit. Hopes were pinned on this vein which should have ensured continuation of profitable mining.
Trojkráľová štôlňa Adit
Location: In the town urban area, in the area of Vŕšky, at the Vodárenská Street on public land between no. 1177 and 1182 private lands (18.639183°, 48.433161°), in the proximity of a so-called ‘Mine Chapel’ and building
of mine administration from the 18th century (Children’s Home today). A large mine waste heap overgrown with pines is right in front of the adit.
The Trojkráľová štôlňa Adit along with the Svornosť Adit and the Narodenie
Panny Márie Shaft form an interconnected passageway system in the northern part of mining district in the Vŕšky area. The mouths are approximately in line in a west – east direction and the passageways were dug to the east and perpendicularly to the course of the Alžbeta, Vavrinec (with Sauberer veinlet), Jakub, Jozef and Joachim ore veins which were mined via the above mine workings.
The Trojkráľová štôlňa Adit (275 m above sea level) along with the Tag Shaft
(located further south near the Althandel Shaft) are considered the highest
extensive mining level of mines in Nová Baňa (a second level above the Hron Hereditary Adit).
The first evidence on the adit dates back to 1697 when it belonged to the Svornosť Adit (lower) and these are connected by numerous runs. Mainly the Alžbeta and Vavrinec-Sauberer veins were mined in it and these contained mainly poorer ores, for example pyritous and hard (called also stamp-mill ores), in this part. These ores contained small pyrite fragments which oxidised fast exposed to air and decomposed into secondary sulphates. Despite low gold content but thanks to easy processability and fusibility these ores were highly demanded in the nearby iron and steel works in Žarnovica. Thanks to the demand for this ore type the adit was in operation (despite of operating mainly at a loss) till 1887 when the mines were closed.
In the direction from the mouth the adit is protected with the stone reinforcement up to the Alžbeta Vein crossing (approx. 70 m from the entrance) where the caved-in stopes are located. It leads further to the east with the stone reinforcement again as well as narrow passageway to stope on the Vavrinec-Sauberer Vein. There is more extensive cave-in comprising highly altered rock disintegrated to sandy sediment of light colour. According to historical maps the adit ends on the Narodenie Panny Márie Shaft bottom.
Mine Chapel and building of mine administration
Location: In the town urban area, at crossing of Vŕšky, Kamenárska and Banícka streets (18.638429°, 48.432355°).
Demanding character of miners’ work and its hazard made their faith stronger. They used to pray to patron saints of miners and asked for God’s protection before descending the underground and after work. One of the main and most worshipped patron saints was St. Anna. The Mine Chapel near Trojkráľová štôlňa adit is also dedicated to her and is located at the central point of the northern part of the district. Miners went to their workplaces – mines and stamp mills – from there. A so-called ‘Huthaus’ was also located there, that was the place where the miners were briefed on the work process and given the work aids.
The Chapel was built in 1822 in simple Empiric style with a barrel vault and ceremonially consecrated on 12 September of the same year. The mass celebrating mining was annually officiated there on St. Anne’s feast day. The Chapel was also the place from which also funeral processions started, bidding last farewell to deceased miners.
A baroque building where a state mine supervisor (‘Schichtenmeister’) was located from the 18th century, is in the proximity. Operation of the state mines in Nová Baňa was directly supervised by him. A top mine administrator in Banská Štiavnica was his superior. Today the Children’ House (Orphanage) is located in this building.
Among these preserved buildings were some operating buildings of the Althandel-Trojkráľová mining plant. These include former central sorting plant, ore washer and nearby also central store of gun powder
Ore processing in Nová Baňa – Stamp mills above Svornosť Adit
Location: In the town urban area, at the path leading from the mine waste heap of the Trojkráľová štôlňa Adit to the football field (18.63746°, 48.43286°), at an altitude of approx. 255 m above sea level. A cascade on which the particular stamp mills stood can be seen in the terrain.
It was necessary to mechanically process the ores to be fusible for the needs of their metallurgic processing. Hungarian mineral processing was considered one of the most advanced in Europe. The ore processing was a multiple-stage process resulting in product called heads (concentrate). This was further processed in iron and steel works in Kremnica and later also in the central silver works in Žarnovica.
Mineral processing was so significant part of the mining that the first written evidence on local mining dated back to 1337 is related to the ore mills. Later mainly the stamp mills prevailed which were the places for processing of poorer, so-called ‘hard ores’ (‘stupové’). But also ‘choice ore’ was still being processed to gold type called ‘mlynkové’. The process started with the ore sorting in sorting plant where mostly old miners worked along with women and children. Thereafter, the finest ore was milled and panning was performed to get gold particles. The poorer ore was also processed gravitationally. It was crushed in stamp mills first, then it was washed multiple times in water in weirs. Exactly in the 18th century the mechanisation of mineral processing reached its peak. J. Lill, mine foreman, suggested to innovate also the local mineral processing in 1781.
An innovative mineral-processing complex was built at the Althandel-Trojkráľová štôlňa Adit state mining plant within a few years. It was water-supplied by ditches leading from the local brook and newly-built water reservoir – Tajch. For water to be used as effective as possible its individual parts were built in cascade style from the mine waste dump of the Trojkráľová štôlňa Adit to the mouth of the Svornosť Adit.
Svornosť Adit (Einigkeit)
Location: In the town urban area, on the eastern part of the training football field, in the Dlhá lúka area (18.6367222°, 48.4330556°), at an altitude of 243 m above sea level. A passageway reinforced with stonework masonry is caved-in approx. to 15 m. The football field was built on the planed mine waste heap of this adit.
The adit belongs to the system of interconnected mine workings in the northern part of Vŕšky. It is the westernmost adit of three mines – Svornosť, Trojkráľová and Narodenie Panny Márie, located low above Novobanský potok Brook. The adit also served as a hereditary adit, draining higher mine workings and adits on the Alžbeta, Vavrinec-Sauberer and Jozef veins.
Location: In the town urban area (Vŕšky), at the Moyzesova Street and public land near waste collection port (18.6380555°, 48.4302778°). A large mine waste heap under the shaft can be clearly seen even today.
The Jozef Shaft was dug during the 17th century already and in connection with the digging of the Neufang Hereditary Adit. Rock was removed from the shaft at the beginning of the 19th century with the aim to dig the direct crosscut to the Jakub Vein from there. Its significance is mainly related to attempts to restore the mining in Nová Baňa in 1931 – 1939.
Banícke námestie Square – Hron Hereditary Adit
Location: Hron Hereditary Adit (Graner – Neufang) runs under the Banícke námestie Square and mouths in the Hron River at this place. It is on the grounds of the Knauf Insulation Company, behind the railroad embankment and approx. 30 m from the administration building (18.64196°, 48.40988°). Its portal was reconstructed in 2002 and the memorial plaque has been installed in it vicinity.
The Hron Hereditary Adit named Graner – Neufang served several generations of miners mainly for water draining of mines in the northern mine district of Nová Baňa in the area of Vŕšky and Najfang. The water from
higher mining levels and that pumped out of deep mines from the depth of 80 m under the Hereditary Adit itself (Althandel and František shafts) flowed gravitationally in it to the Hron River. Besides its draining function the Hereditary Adit served also as a significant mining level at Hron level (at an altitude of approx. 200 m above sea level).
the Neufang Hereditary Adit at this place. In the area of the Banícke námestie Square the crosscut reaches the Matej vein which is rich in pyritous ore. Water from the caved-in Hereditary Adit flows out at some places and so water in the Novobanský potok Brook (Ochreous) is coloured in ochreous-brown in approx. 500 m stretch from the Banícke námestie Square to the confluence with Starohutský potok Brook.
Štangelír and Maximilián Shaft (Kirchenberger)
Location: In the town urban area, on the Kirchenberg Hill (Kostolný vrch Hill), in the proximity of the Parish Church, in garden of land registry number (LRN) 363 house (18.6361111°, 48.4269445°; at an altitude of 252 m above sea level). The object is accessible by asphalt roads with parking possibility near the Parish Church and also by stairs between the church and the M. R. Štefánika Street (Štangelír).
The object is considered a representation of ore mining right in the town centre outside the Vŕšky mining area on Ferdinand, Albert, Maximilián and Matej veins. These so-called ‘city veins’ were being mined from the 16th century to the level of the Graner – Neufang Hereditary Adit. The veins were mined there by the crosscut called ‘Hermanov prekop’ leading from the Tobiáš shaft (Kreuz) under the main square and further under the Parish Church. The second crosscut driven across these ‘city veins’ is called ‘prekop Všechsvätých’ (‘Allerheiligenschlag’) and leads from today Banícke námestie Square in a westerly direction under Hrádza district.
Sieben Kunsten Adit (Siebenwerk)
Location: In the town urban area – the Havranov bridge area (Spodná Street) in the proximity of no. 1614 land (18.6351055°, 48.4433139°), at an altitude of 262 m above sea level. The adit entrance is relatively well-preserved and clearly visible from the road.
This mine workings represents mining in the northernmost area of precious metals’deposit in Nová Baňa called Najfang (Neufang). More extensive prospecting works were likely performed in this area during the Middle Ages already and the number of surface mine workings and prospect pits in the area between Najfang and Kňazova lúka evidence that. These objects were Sieben Kunsten mines originally and are hardly recognisable in the terrain today. The adit of the same name was probably dug in the 17th and 18th century. It was dug in an easterly direction under old stopes mentioned before and its total length is estimated at approx. 500 m according to old maps. Also, both Dominik adits (the Front and the Rear) were
dug more to the south in the same direction in the Najfang area.
Implementers of the educational trail of mining:
Mesto Nová Baňa, OZ Novobanský banícky spolok
Mesto Nová Baňa, OZ Novobanský banícky spolok, Gladiš Igor – FOGO, Nová Baňa
RNDr. P. Pauditš, PhD., P. Konečný, PhD.
Mgr. Z. Budinská
Translation to English:
Mgr. Z. Budinská, RNDr. P. Liščák, CSc.
Source and photo:
archív OZ Novobanský banícky spolok, mesto Nová Baňa a Pohronské múzeum, scan RNDr. K. Weis, PhD., RNDr. P. Pauditš, PhD., P. Konečný, PhD., P. Kopernický, I. Gladiš, Mgr. Peter Ondrus
Topography: © ZBGIS (GKÚ, 2018)
Logo: H. Trajteľová