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Living and Working Conditions of the Miners

by Theresa König last modified 2008-02-19 15:31

Living and working conditions of the miners at Bartholomaeberg

As the occurrence of ore at Bartholomaeberg has always been small, mining was often done by loosely connected cooperatives. There was a great difference to the mining activities in the Tyrol where families like the well-known Fuggers or large companies dominated the field of mining, whereas in the Montafon valley mining was carried out in most cases by the inhabitants alongside of farming.  Even so, these mining farmers were able to excavate a 484 m long tunnel by just using a hammer and pick axe. 

To save time, the cross section of the tunnels was kept as small as possible and they followed the veins of ore. Looking at the walls of the tunnels, you can still see the signs of excavating. Weak zones were secured with timbering. Transportation of the excavated ore and the barren rock was done by placing it in goat skin-bags and pulling it along the floor of the tunnels. Mine cars were only used in the main pits to transport the excavated rock. At the adit entrance barren rock was separated from the ore bearing rock and the ores were transported to the smelting pits.

As lighting in the mines was provided by pine wood chips and torches, working in the cramped, humid tunnels was extremely unhealthy.  The life expectancy of miners in those days was only around 30 years. To get an impression of what the economic situation was like in those days, you should know that a successful year meant that enough ore for a single axe was won!  That is why mining was only a part-time job, with the miner’s main source of income being farming.

 We would like to thank for your interest in the geology of the Montafon valley and hope that we were able to provide some interesting and new information on the evolution and the changes of the Earth’s crust in this part of the Alps.


P07-2 Living and Working Conditions of the Miners.mp3

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