The Beginnings

The discovery, at the end of the 15th century, of rich silver and lead ore deposits in the Tarnowskie Góry area started the local ore mining. It is considered that the town establishment took place in 1526, when the then owners of these lands granted a charter called the Mining Freedom Act encouraging local free miners to work here. Two years later a very unique at the time labour code was issued, called “Ordunek Gorny”, which regulated mine activities and the level of wages. Its objective was to support ore mining development in Upper Silesia. In exchange for charters for free miners and newly established towns, local dukes received part of mine profits. Mining in the Tarnowskie Góry area started to thrive. While extracting ores, free miners had to cope with all elements. Simple extraction methods were conductive to many threats arising. There were collapses and tearing off rocks, air or efficient lighting were lacking. Shafts and workings were flooded by water constantly. In times of high water inflow, exploitation of deposits had to be temporarily suspended.


Water in mine workings was always unwelcome. Sources of water flooding mine workings included precipitation, surface flowing or standing water and groundwater. Coarse-grained and porous rocks are highly water-permeable. Such a structure is characteristic for ore-bearing dolomites in the area of the Tarnowskie Góry basin. Even a few metre deep shafts filled up with water fast. This was one of the main problems of mining in Tarnowskie Góry.

In case of heavy precipitation, two small rivers, Stoła and Drama, running across Tarnowskie Góry are not able to carry water away swiftly and efficiently before it gets deeper underground. The cause for it is a relatively flat land - a slightly undulating plain with surface difference between the highest and the lowest point of about 50 m. In addition, the Tarnowskie Góry geological basin is situated on a waterproof clay loam and carbon substratum, thus creating a huge underground water reservoir which, when filled up, raises groundwater level and so floods mine workings directly above it.

Workings dewatering methods

At first, mine workings were drained using the same methods as by output transportation. Instead of a bucket, a leather sack called “bulg” was hanged and then drawn up to the surface. But the deeper ores were sought, the higher water inflow. This situation required looking for more efficient and cheaper dewatering methods. Therefore as soon as in the 16th century, when mining in Tarnowskie Góry was at its peak, designers of elaborate machines and dewatering devices appeared, promising miracles. Among the most popular in the then mining world were chain water-scooping devices called “Paternoster”. Later on, vertical dewatering pumps driven by horse treadmills were introduced. According to the data from 1550s, about 600 to 700 horses worked in Tarnowskie Góry constantly, day and night, powering dewatering devices.


Adits in Tarnowskie Góry

As soon as in the first half of the 16th century, it became clear that existing dewatering methods did not work, so in order to get rid off water efficiently, mining in Tarnowskie Góry began to apply more cost-intensive solutions. Miners built adit systems to drain water by gravity. These systems operated as sort of collecting pipes which drained water from galleries, tunnels and workings in ore deposits located above the adits. Water was discharged by a main adit tunnel to rivers situated below. Adit dimensions were governed by special adit regulations issued in 1544 and aimed at putting in order all existing customary laws related to mine dewatering. In areas with low elevation levels, adits ended with discharge channels. These were artificial beds running from an adit mouth to a spot where the level of water discharged by the adit became the same as the water level in a river.

During the whole mining exploitation period in the tarnowskie góry and bytom area, 13 adits were bored

Daniel Adit

The first adit submitted by free miners for approval in 1547 was the Daniel Adit, currently located in a district of the town of Repty Śląskie. Very little information is available on this project. All we know is that free miners of this adit registered with the mining authority four shafts in the area.

St. James’s Adit

The most important adit in the 16th century was the St. James’s Adit of 1564. Its construction was initiated by Jakub Rapp, a bergmeister from Zgorzelec. The adit’s task was to dewater mine workings located in the town centre. This was the longest - 4.7 km - and the most important adit for ore mining in Tarnowskie Góry in the 16th and 17th centuries. Its mouth was in Sowice (now a district of Tarnowskie Góry). Adit water ran into the Stoła River there.

God’s Gift Adit

Another adit entered into mining control books was the God’s Gift Adit of 1566, in other sources known as “a small adit behind Mr. Hornig’s ironworks”. It was located in the area of Sowice (now a district of Tarnowskie Góry). Other adits mentioned in registers are: Promised in the Name of the Lord of 1567 and God Aid in Sowice of 1568.

Cracow Adit

In 1568, miners from Cracow and Olkusz reported a new adit to be constructed. It was named the Cracow Adit. According to the constructors’ notes: “we must drive this adit 2310 lachters long across some dangerous sections and hard rock”. Its construction had never been completed, and the adit did not play any significant role in mining in Tarnowskie Góry.

St. George’s Adit

Wishing to revive the bankrupt mining in Bytom, town residents decided to build the St. George’s Adit. Construction works started on 1 June 1584. Measurements for the design were made by Jan Trapp, a bergmeister from Tarnowskie Góry. The Adit was supposed to start behind the then village of Szombierki and run as far as to the vicinity of Miechowice, Bobrowniki, Strzybnica and Szarlej.

New Bytom Adit

Another adit connected with Bytom was the New Bytom Adit, of which unfortunately little is known except for the fact that its construction started in 1603.

God Assist Adit

On 22 July 1652, the construction of the God Assist Adit began, the new adit meant to replace the worn-out and in a huge part collapsed St. James’s Adit. Still, it did not bring the expected benefits. Upon boring 1665 m, no ore deposits were found and the project was abandoned. The next adit, named “Help, God”, was bored starting from 1656. Upon boring 866 m in very difficult geological conditions, no ore deposits were found, and in 1695 further works were given up. For political and economical reasons, mining in Tarnowskie Góry began to decline. The Help, God Adit was completed later on and significantly contributed to the new golden age of mining.

Tarnowskie Góry Adit

The last adit about which we may find some records from the period before putting local mining back into operation in 1784 was a concept of a chief foreman Scholle. He intended to build it with free miners’ help, under the name of “The Deep Heritage Adit near Tarnowskie Góry”, with the opening in Stare Tarnowice. Although its construction started in 1769, due to an accident (a man drowned there) nobody wanted to work on the site anymore.

Kunst Rösche Adit

The adit, built probably in the year following putting the Friedrich Mine into operation, started in the Abt Shaft. It was bored because the land where machinae hydraulicae were located was at the same or lower level than the Stoła River surface. In order to allow water run into the river, the adit had to be driven to a river section located lower. The total underground length of the adit amounted to over 500 m. It is not known whether the adit had timbering or was partly laid with stone. The word “Rösche” in its name suggests it was built as an open excavation and then covered with earth. The adit was discovered on a plan dated 1785-1792.

  • 1547 - Daniel Adit
  • 1563 - St. James’s Adit
  • 1566 - God’s Gift Adit
  • 1567 - Promised in the Name of the Lord Adit
  • 1568 - God Aid Adit
  • 1568 - Cracow Adit
  • 1584 - St. George’s Adit
  • 1603 - Nowa Sztolnia Bytomska
  • 1652 - New Bytom Adit
  • 1769 - God Assist Adit
  • 1785 - Tarnowskie Góry Adit
  • 1806 - Kunst Rösche Adit
  • 1834 - God Help Adit

God Help Adit - The Northern Dewatering System

In 1784, the Friedrich Mine was established. Massive amounts of water were encountered in shafts and galleries. It was decided that, irrespective of getting back to horse treadmill drainage and planned introduction of a steam engine, in order to drain deposits located lower also adit dewatering should be applied anew. For this purpose, the uncompleted Help, God Adit was utilised. The Help, God Adit may be considered the basis for the God Help Adit (German: Gotthelf), one of the two main components of the Friedrich Mine’s dewatering system. The Help, God Adit was supposed to be used as the system adit, but upon clearing up its discharge channel it turned out that underground only its 40 m long section was unobstructed. Using its discharge channel, the course for a new adit, named God Help, was marked out. The works began in 1785. 29 shafts were sunk along the adit’s line and the faces of galleries driven from them faced one another. Once adit construction works had been completed, the shafts were plugged.

The God Help Adit constitutes the Northern Adit System (also called the Central one), which was an ambitious project carried out in the years 1785-1807. The boring progress is illustrated by dates and details noted on preserved, original plans. These are confirmed by discoveries of underground archaeology, and in particular by characteristic tables built in the adit sidewalls, on which such information as date when a given adit section had been completed or a distance to the adit mouth were scrupulously engraved. The entire, now expanded mining field of the Friedrich Mine in Tarnowskie Góry was divided into four mining districts: Sucha Góra, Bobrowniki, Town and Adit District. Each district had its own underground crosscut draining ore deposits located above it.

Works were performed simultaneously in crosscuts of all districts, the faces of their galleries, driven from two neighbouring shaft, facing each other. For this huge project, eight Newcomen- and Boulton&Watt-type steam engines were used, moved from one shaft to another as the work progressed. Temporary and mostly wooden engine buildings have not been preserved, and the total head of pumps of the engines on all shafts in the years 1802-1807 is estimated to be ca. 170 m.

The plan was to connect all these crosscuts into one thread of the system together with the God Help Adit built from 1785 onward at 267 metres above sea level from the Stoła River in Strzybnica. The idea was to lift water from the Reden Crosscut to the adit running precisely 5.86 metres above. The goal was finally achieved in 1807 and then water from the whole mine was lifted there by pumps of one 60-inch engine, only to this minor height. The pumps’ capacity amounted to 22 thousand m3/day. The central dewatering system, built at the cost of 100 k thalers, operated 30 years. And profits resulting from the decrease in dewatering costs were significant.


Friedrich Deep Adit - The Southern Dewatering System

Further development of the Friedrich Mine was possible following the exposure of deposits located below the existing dewatering system. A need arose to build a new, deeper adit which would be able to drain water by gravity from below the exploitation area. The most favourable location to start its construction was the valley of the Drama River - a tributary of the Kłodnica River in the Odra River basin. The 56-metre deep Adolph Shaft in the Friedrich Mine was the destination. Therefore, the adit was named “Friedrich Deep Adit”.

Taking geological conditions into account, it was planned to bore an adit consisting of four broken sections having the total length of 4570 metres. Their boring was supposed to take 15 years. Estimated costs amounted to 231 thousand thalers.

The Friedrich Deep Adit construction works began in 1821, with digging a ditch - an 888 metre long discharge channel connecting the adit mouth with the Drama River. Owing to great mastery of measurers of the era, adit boring was performed in 14 mine faces at the same time. For ventilation purposes and to dewater mine faces, 26 shafts were sunk.

In order to drain workings during works, two steam engines, with a 24-inch and 40-inch diameter, were used, installed on engine shafts. Due to variable geological conditions, distances between shafts oscillated between 79 and 401 metres. On average, 326 metres of galleries were bored per year with 100 workers hired for the purpose. During 10 years, the mining works were supervised by the Chief Inspector of the Tarnowskie Góry Mining Office, Rudolf von Carnall.

The Friedrich Deep Adit was put into operation with great pomp and ceremony and was related to the 50th anniversary of the Friedrich Mine. On 15 November 1834, in the early morning, 28 mining and metallurgical officials, chief foremen, foremen and miners gathered around the adit mouth. Accompanied by the miners’ orchestra and choir, they traversed the lower section of the adit by boats. A 40 blasthole salute was fired. Once everyone had reached the ground level through the Adolph Shaft, awarding of honorary miner patches accompanied by toasts and a breakfast took place, and 30 non-qualified workers were promoted to mine shift bosses.

Putting the Friedrich Deep Adit into operation started a new era in the mine development. For the purposes of deposit recognition and water drainage, the adit was lengthened by so-called roadways. Connections with other mine galleries were made. These connections were designed to drain water by gravity and to shut down the last steam engines. Thanks to this operation, the Friedrich Mine saved 7 thousand thalers per year. The dewatering system based on the Friedrich Deep Adit was being extended until 1880.

In the following years, the adit was extended to the south-east and then south in the hope of getting to new ore deposits. The aim was to create a loop by way of connecting the side gallery leading from the Adolph Shaft, through the Heinitz Crosscut all the way to the Fortunate Help Shaft. Boring of the second loop started in 1875, it joined the main gallery in the vicinity of the Urban Shaft. Both shafts were connected on 17 December 1880. The second central adit dewatering system for the Friedrich Mine, so arduously made, reached the total length of almost 15 km.

Apart from workings drainage, the Friedrich Deep Adit served another important purpose. Due to the expansion of an industrial district south of Tarnowskie Góry, water was in high demand. It was decided to use for economic purposes part of mine water until then discharged by the adit into the Drama River. In 1884, waterworks was raised on the Adolph Shaft. A steam engine was installed 56 metres underground to pump water directly to a pipeline supplying it to the entire Silesian conurbation. Later on, the steam engine was replaced by electric pumps. The waterworks operated as long as until 2001.

After the World War I, the adit, divided by the Polish-German border, became even subject to a special international agreement concluded in Berlin on 2 December 1927, because a part of the adit, including the “Gwarki Gateway”, was then located in German territory. Still, water was flowing along it continuously, paying no heed to any borders, and it has remained so, even though with the cessation of ore extraction the adit lost its value for mining. Instead, it became valuable in a different way.


Heritage protection and opening an adit section for visitors

As soon as before the World War II, endeavours were made to protect the underground mine in Tarnowskie Góry and open it for touring. In 1938, municipality bought mine fields from the state treasury. An exhibition mine King Bolesław the Bold was established. The event was broadly discussed in the press, which attracted a great number of those willing to visit the Tarnowskie Góry underground system. Among them were not only individual tourists from the vicinity of Tarnowskie Góry, but also large organised groups from more distant regions of Poland.

The development of industrial tourism in the Tarnowskie Góry underground system was stopped by warfare. After the war, due to political changes, the authorities abandoned the concept of opening the underground mine for touring. But a group of enthusiasts from Tarnowskie Góry, led by a mine foreman Alfons Kopia, revived the bold projects from before 1939 related to opening the underground system for tourists. The idea to build an exhibition mine and give tourists access to underground tunnels was reactivated. The initiative was adopted and boldly implemented by the Tarnowskie Góry Land History and Monuments Lovers Association founded in 1953 (later on the Tarnowskie Góry Land Lovers Association).

At the first stage, in order to present the beauty and charm of the mine underworld as soon as possible, a great community effort was put into opening the Black Trout Adit for tourists in 1957. The Adit is a section of the Friedrich Deep Adit, back then the longest one in Europe.

Tourists may visit the 600 m long section of the adit located between the shafts Ewa and Sylwester. Shafts were named after the patron of the calendar day when a given shaft had been discovered. All the works connected with preparing the adit for tourists were performed within less than two years, and the first tourists traversed the adit by boats on 15 September 1957, during I Tarnowskie Góry Gwarki Days.

The adit, put into operation and opened for tourists, was considered the first, temporary stage of granting access to the underground system. It was supposed to operate only until the reconstruction of the Historic Mine and then cease its activities. But due to the facility’s huge popularity, a great interest in it, its unique construction and a fascinating boat ride illuminated by carbide lamps, the adit remains an interesting and charming tourist spot. The boat ride provides tourists with unforgettable experience as they can admire the underworld of Tarnowskie Góry almost 30 m underground.

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