Tour de Ruhr
The German Mining Museum
When it comes to mining, I tend to think of coal mining, mainly the post-war industrial-scale excavation of hard coal, but mining has been done since prehistory. The fall of the Roman Empire in the fifth century precipitated the loss of most mining know-how, so the history of mining becomes an interesting subject from the Middle Ages onwards. The newly opened permanent exhibition at the German Mining Museum in Bochum takes you on a tour of 30,000 years of mining history and presents the importance of mineral resources, with an emphasis on hard coal, the enabler of industrialization & raison d’être for the Ruhr region. The museum shows not only technological developments, but also the social & cultural aspects of mining.
The coolest part of the museum is located 20 m below the ground, where a wide range of heavy mining machinery, such as a shearer loader & 50-m-long scraper conveyor with hydraulic roof supports for longwall mining, is on display in a 2½-km-long visitor mine. It’s probably the only one left in the country after the last German coal mines in Ibbenbüren & Bottrop closed a year ago. This doesn’t mean that all mining activities have come to an end: pumping out pit water in the Ruhrpott will continue into eternity, because the salty groundwater influx into the obsolete mineshafts poses a threat to potable water reserves in the higher layers of rock. The exhibition upstairs looks at this, as well as other issues related to the end of the coal-mining era.bergbaumuseum.de