The Minning and Geological Trails

The Minning and Geological Trails

Already in the Middle Ages, the Karkonosze Mountains saw the first treasure hunters who came to the region from western and southern Europe. They were called the Walloons. A legendary Walloon named Laurentius Angelus is said to have discovered rich iron ore deposits near the town of Kowary in the 12th century.

Those rich deposits of ore and gems attracted more and more miners, adventurers and ordinary trouble-makers. They described their explorations, leaving hints how to get to the underground treasures. The description were contained in the famous medieval Walloon Books and included depictions of paths leading to the valley of the Łomniczka River, Sowia Dolina, Kocioł Łomniczki, Biały Jar or the cirques of Wielki Staw and Mały Staw.

In the 16th century, the landowners of the Karkonosze area tried to control the treasure hunt by issuing permits allowing exploration and mining.

The turn of the 18th century saw the major development of mining activities at the foot of Śnieżka, in the region of Płóczki, Karpacz, Sowia Dolina and Kocioł Łomniczki. Several mines were founded in the area of present Karpacz. Some adits led 90 or even 300 m into the hills. Three mining associations (in German Bergrechtliche Gewerkschaft) were founded. They were organisations resembling present-day guilds in cities. Associates were free people who had permits to seek and extract ore and to hire other people for harder works. Mainly lead ore and silver ore were recovered in the area of Karpacz. At that time, also garnets were extracted in the valley called now Sowia Dolina. The gems attracted numerous tourists who descended from Śnieżka along the ridge of Czarny Grzebiet. The first garnet mines were recorded in 1703.

An 18th-century book about mineral deposits of Lower Silesia mentions the minerals of Sowia Dolina. Above Wilcza Poręba, on the slopes of Czarna Kopa, one could find copper, silver and tin ore, as well as lots of iron ore. The place was then called Schwarze Klippe.

In this particular region of Karpacz mines were established until the second half of the 19th century. At that time (around 1882) arsenic, cobalt, copper and silver were recovered, but after a few years the exploitation proved to be unprofitable, so the mines were closed.

Today, there are some remnants of the former mining activities in Wilcza Poręba and at Krucze Skały. In 1788 or 1790 Gottfried Exner is said to have established two kaolin mines that worked for manufactures from Berlin, which produced porcelain. It was rumoured that the mine owner received 20 francs in gold for one tonne of kaolin sent to the then capital of Prussia.

The first official document confirming the existence of a mine in the town is a short note that was once in the Royal State Library in Breslau (now Wrocław) dated 1713, according to which in 1712 a silver mine was established in Cromhübel and Plagnitz.

Throughout the whole 18th and the first half of the 19th century, there were smaller and larger mining adits in the area of Karpatka, Strzelec, Księża Góra, as well as Biały Jar and Kocioł Łomniczki. The ore was then usually sent to Miedzianka (then Kupferberg), where it was further processed.

The last mining activities in Karpacz took place in the 1950’s, when uranium ore was extracted, but without great success.
Time and people have covered most of the traces of the former mining activities in Karpacz

The MINING TRAIL (Szlak Górniczy in Polish), marked with thirteen stones that bear a carved stylised picture of a hammer and a pickaxe, shows a fragment of the mining history of Karpacz.
Walking along the Mining Trail we can also find old slag heaps and stone-carved crosses that once indicated mining plots. We can find traces of a medieval placer mining site or adits drilled at Krucze Skały. We can familiarised ourselves with the geological past of the region thanks to a didactic path, which includes interesting examples of rocks of the Sudeten Mountains and an attractive hornfels outcrop.

The Mining Trail marks the shortest way between Osiedle Skalne and the centre of Karpacz.

Interaktywny przewodnik został wykonany w ramach projektu wspólfinansowanego przez Unię Europejską ze śodków Europejskiego Funduszu Rozwoju Regionalnego w ramach Programu Operacyjnego Współpracy Transgranicznej Republika Czeska - Rzeczpospolita Polska 2007-2013.