The beginnings of mining

Mine map

Do you know that one of the first mine maps in the world was developed in Tarnowskie Góry?

The map was designed by a bergmeister (equivalent to a foreman nowadays) Jan Trapp. It was the first mine map of an adit in Silesia and also one of the first of the kind in the world. This cartographer from Tarnowskie Góry was known not only for map drawing, but also for designing adits and supervising their construction. In 1564, he supervised the boring of the St. James’s Adit and twenty years later made measurements for the design of the St. George’s Adit which was to be constructed in Bytom.

Machinae hydraulicae

Do you know that the device called “Paternoster” was human-powered?

At first, miners used simple well winches with buckets, casks or leather sacks to drain underground tunnels. Later on, structures called machinae hydraulicae started to be built, reaching sizes that would surprise contemporary people. Among them were water-scooping devices called “Paternoster”, that is treadwheels, powered by people climbing on their paddles for a certain period of time determined by the prayer “Our Father” (“Pater Noster”) they were saying during the activity. The first machina in Tarnowskie Góry was built on the God Father Shaft in 1529 by Mikołaj Heindenreich. The second one was constructed in 1532 on Liszcz. Their more exact location is no longer known.

Horses in Tarnowskie Góry mining

Do you know that horses never worked underground in mining in Tarnowskie Góry?

Horses did not work underground, but on the ground level they were used to power historic dewatering devices. According to the data from 1550s, about 600 to 700 horses were kept in Tarnowskie Góry to power these machines. The machines had to operate day and night with only short downtimes for changing horses.

Water wheels

Do you know that machinae hydraulicae were not only human-powered, but also water-powered?

According to archives, one or two machinae hydraulicae on shafts in Sowice (district of Tarnowskie Góry) were powered by a water wheel raised on the Stoła River and pumped water from lower extraction levels to the St. James’s Adit. The device changed its rotation between reciprocation and swinging movement of many connected poles which served to power, located over a shaft a few dozen metres away, another wheel with bailers and a rope wound on it or cylindrical vertical force pumps.


Do you know that the expression “stuck on the treadmill” refers to a hard labour of horses?

Treadmills, to which horses were harnessed, served to drive winches with bailers or were installed in shafts to drain water from underground. The whole device consisted of a wooden, conical structure, covering in part or in whole the actual treadmill with a harness system, and a building over a shaft. One horse treadmill could power devices on a few neighbouring shafts. As to the concept itself, these improved devices were used as long as until the end of the 18th century, even after horses had been replaced by a steam engine.


Industrial revolution period

Steam Engines

Do you know that in Tarnowskie Góry the first steam engine in Upper Silesia was put into operation?

The fire-powered engine, as at first these, back then, miracles of engineering were called, was brought to Tarnowskie Góry from England. The first engine in ore mining in Tarnowskie Góry was put into operation on 19 January 1788. It served to dewater workings of the state-owned silver and lead ore mine named Friedrich, opened 4 years earlier. The engine not only supported the work of horse-powered dewaterers, but its maintenance was also three times cheaper.

Adit designers

Do you know that in the past adits were designed and their construction supervised by professionals using rather primitive tools?

While designing adits, ancient surveyors used relatively simple measuring instruments, such as compass, calibrated measuring rod, measuring ropes, plumb line or protractor. Above all a good knowledge of geometry, stereometry and geography was necessary. A unit of measure used was a lachter. Depending on its type, it was equal to ca. 2 m.

Adit portal

Do you know that adit mouth portals may be considered works of architecture?

Adit portals are real jewels of architecture. No surprise then that the grand construction of the God Help Adit, the mouth of which is in Strzybnica (now a district of Tarnowskie Góry), also had to be crowned with an ornamental structure. Although the original portal has not stood the test of time, notes of the initiator of the whole project, Count Friedrich Reden, have been preserved. In one of his letters, dated 1801, our attention is drawn to a sketch of recommended architectural style. The adit was completed in 1806.

Contributions to Adit construction

Do you know that there were contributions to God Assist Adit construction?

On 22 July 1652, the construction of the God Assist Adit, meant to replace the worn-out St. James’s Adit, began. Works had progressed quickly at first, but when it turned out that there were no more money to complete the project and town residents were not so eager to fund it on their own, the city council adopted a resolution to collect contributions (so-called samkosts). Unfortunately, the adit construction did not turn out to be a success. The adit only gained in importance as late as in early 1800s, when its location was appreciated by engineers of the time.

In order to ensure maximum convenience to users when using the website, this page uses cookie files.

Zostań Patronem