We love Thuringia and the people living in this ":new state" of the reunified Germany. In addition my son from my first marriage has moved his company to Suhl, the center of Southern Thuringia.
Our visit in 2006 was mainly intended to make contacts with people involved in tourism and to explore events and attractions which are only known by the locals.
We believe that after we have included all new experiences in our Internet travel guide that the tourist industry should be convinced that we are a reliable partner and should give us contracts for designing web sites or for translating information in museums etc.
By exploring the surroundings from Suhl I found a place called the "Schwarzer Crux".
I was on my way from Suhl in direction "Schmiedefeld" and "Ilmenau"" on a mountain road through the Thuringian forest, close to the famous "Rennsteig" when I saw on my right hand side a sign. I followed it because I wanted to know what a "Schwarzer Crux" is.
It was a dirt road and after a short distance I saw above building with only one car parking in front of it. Because it was lunch time I decided to have it here.
I was greeted by Marlis Rieger and ordered something from the menu which offered a variety of typical Thuringian dishes.
When I asked her what a "Schwarzer Crux" is she told me that it has something to do with mining iron ore and that I could get a tour through a little museum as soon as her husband is back.
I finished my meal and took some pictures of the restaurant. I also learned that they offer accommodation for reasonable rates.
I liked the sun room with a beautiful view in the forest. It was also interesting to see the displayed animals which can be found in the Thuringian forest. I also discovered almost everywhere minerals and other things related to mining.
Then suddenly Mr. Karl Rieger appeared. He is the president of the volunteer association which is promoting and working on the ore mine museum. He told me that their intention is to open in the near future a little part of an old shaft for the public.
As a welcome gift he gave me a little booklet which describes the "Schwarzer Crux". The word "crux" comes from Latin and means "cross" - "schwarze" means black. The German word "Kreuz" (cross) means also "pain, burden, grief, harm". However, their is no proof what "Crux" really meant.
Because there were no other guests in the restaurant or visitors of the museum Mr. Rieger had time for a special guided tour through the little museum.
It is mostly dedicated to the history of mining in this area. In medieval times the ore was of very high quality which helped to establish the weapon industry in Suhl and bring it to success.
Many samples of the equipment used by the miners over hundreds of years is displayed behind glass. It sounds unbelievable but "collectors" were stealing many of the items, even bottles with old schnapps which obvious helped the miners to do their job were taken away. Now an additional alarm system should help to stop that.
Mr. Rieger was an excellent guide. He could explain everything in German. Himself and the group of people from the association want to transfer much of their knowledge to interested visitors and they do all the labor for free and spend their own money. In order to support them I left naturally as small pledge. Please do the same if you visit the "Schwarzer Crux".
Lighting was always mandatory to work underground. Mr. Rieger told me in detail about the hazards of some of the lights which have been used. Fatal accidents happened.
Mr. Rieger explained the different kinds of ore and showed me samples. The museums has also collection of various minerals. Some of them are for sale to make some money.
He familiarized me with the history of mining in this area.
It is assumed that it started already around the year 900.
Mining is still hard work and it is still dangerous, but when you see the working conditions hundreds of years ago and the life expectation of the workers lots of progress has been achieved.
As I learned that many improvements had been performed on the museum after my visit. Please visit it and enjoy a home cooked meal there!
We do not want to replace an actual visit to the "Schwarzer Crux" with our brief web site. Please visit the friendly people here, enjoy a cup of good coffee with home baked specialities or have a full meal and spend some time in the museum. I do not know how good Mr. Riegers English is but I am convinced that he will do his best that you will not leave disappointed.
I believe that I was successful in finding highly motivated people in Thuringia which are willing to develop own initiatives to make this beautiful state even more attractive. We are willing to support them. But we are not willing to follow wrong directives given by government supported organizations.
When I learned from Thuringians how they managed to built their own houses or to keep a small family business alive under the communist system I recommended strongly to show this kind of flexibility again and not sit back complain and wait that somebody else takes care of their needs. Mr. Karl Rieger and his group are a typical example of such people who should be followed by others.
The entrance to the shaft of the old mine is under construction. All work is done by hand and by the members of the association. I am looking forward to come back next year and to visit the "Schwarzer Crux" again.
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