Penzberg mine

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Penzberg mine
General information about the mine

Herzog-Karl-Theodor-Schacht in the foreground and Henleschacht in the background around 1908

Funding/total 25 million t
Information on the mining company
Operating company Oberbayerische Aktiengesellschaft für Kohlenbergbau
Employees 2.000 (peak in 1951)
Start of operation 30. March 1796
End of operation 30. September 1966
Raw materials extracted
Degradation of Pitch coal
Geographical position
Coordinates 47° 45′ 9″ N, 11° 22′ 39″ OCoordinates 47° 45′ 9″ N, 11° 22′ 39″O
Bergwerk Penzberg (Bayern)
Bergwerk Penzberg
Location Penzberg mine

Community Penzberg
County (NUTS3) Weilheim-Schongau
Country Free State of Bavaria
State Germany

The Penzberg mine was one of five pitch coal mines in the Bavarian foothills of the Alps between the Lech and Inn rivers, along with those in Peißenberg, Peiting, Hausham and Marienstein. From 1796 to 1966, over 25 million tons of coal were mined.[1] The most powerful relict is the Berghalde on the eastern edge of the town, today a leisure and recreation area. In addition to the mining museum and the mining round trip trail[2] several mining monuments[3] remind of the importance of the mine for the town.

Coal deposit

The mining field of the Penzberg mine was bordered by the Isar river (near Bad Tölz) in the east and by the so-called Olympiastraße in the west.[4] The miners extracted the coal from the “Penzberger Mulde”, the small “Langsee-Mulde” and the large “Nonnenwald-Mulde”. In the Penzberg hollow 5 out of 24 seams and in the Nonnenwald hollow 9 out of a total of 31 seams were worth mining.


Isabellenschacht around 1860

The first mining attempts took place there as early as 1557, but great economic importance and high production rates were only achieved in the course of industrialisation from about the middle of the 19th century. From 1840 onwards, the Karl shaft was sunk to a depth of 99 m and abandoned in 1874.[5] Before that, mining had been carried out via adits. In 1851 the sinking of the Isabellen shaft took place. In 1865, the Tutzing-Penzberg railway line went into operation, which greatly simplified the transport of coal.[6] In 1869 the mine was merged into the Miesbacher Kohlengewerkschaft; at that time the mine had 150 workers.[7] In 1870 the mine was transformed into a joint-stock company, the “Oberbayerische Aktiengesellschaft für Kohlenbergbau”,[6] often referred to as “Oberkohle” for short. This joint-stock company subsequently built accommodation for miners who were to come from Bohemia, Croatia, South Tyrol, Lombardy, Upper Austria and the Upper Palatinate.[8] In 1875 the Isabellen shaft was closed and the Herzog-Karl-Theodor-Schacht was opened. The sinking of the Henle shaft began in 1890. In 1907 a coal washing plant was built. From 1913 the miners sank the Nonnenwald shaft down to a depth of 800 metres and mining began in 1919. From 1933 they only extracted coal from the Nonnenwald shaft, as mining in the other shafts was finished from then on. In 1951 the 2000-man workforce achieved an annual output of just under 360,000 tonnes of usable coal.[9] The operating company stopped mining on 30 September 1966 due to lack of profitability and soon after the Nonnenwald shaft was backfilled.

Today, the most striking sign from the mining era is the Penzberg “Berghalde” leisure and recreation area. This huge elongated hill, which has been landscaped and planted since 1974 on the basis of a design by Penzberg landscape architect Josef Probst, consists of the overburden that had accumulated during the long period of mining and had been shipped here from the mine shaft. “Penzberg Dolomites” was the name given by the locals at the time to the often sliding and swaying spoil heap that was piled up in the middle of the moorland. The overburden was brought in by cable car from April 1910 onwards. When it had become irreparable, American pioneers blew up the supports, which were up to 50 metres high, for training purposes on 31 January 1955. Now the overburden was transported by lorry until the colliery was closed down. In October 2006 the Penzberg miners’ association inaugurated a memorial on the mountain slagheap, which reminds of this cable railway.[10]

In 1951, the power station, which had been planned in the 1930s and started during the war, was commissioned with a railway siding. The power station was the main consumer of the mined coal. It generated an electrical output of 12.5 megawatts. The building complex consisted of an administration wing, the 20-metre-high and 3,000-square-metre machine hall, a 34-metre-high boiler house and the 98-metre-high chimney. After the colliery’s closure it was fired with coal from Peißenberg and from the Saarland. The chimney was blown up in 1998 and the railway tracks were dismantled.[11]

By 1966, 246 people had suffered fatal accidents at the mine.[12]

Mining Museum

The mining museum, built and furnished by former miners, contains a permanent exhibition. Original route extensions of the miners form the centrepiece. Together with the miners’ gear, hunts, mine telephones, signal stations, a simulated blasting and a blind shaft from the mine, they convey a realistic picture of working life underground. The various stages in the development of coal mining – from hand mining to fully mechanised operations – are illustrated. Also on display is a collection of original pit lamps, surveying equipment, maps, photographs and contemporary documents. Models, media stations and film documents also explain the work processes in the mine.[13] The city of Penzberg took over the sponsorship in 2012 and modernized the museum by summer 2013.[14]


  • Karl Luberger, Stadt Penzberg (ed.): Geschichte der Stadt Penzberg, 1st edition 1969; 2nd edition 1975; 3rd edition 1983.
  • Karl Luberger: Penzberg and the mine. In: Lech-Isar-Land 1988, p. 175-177
  • Michael Mayr: The cable railway to the Berghaufen. Bergknappenverein, Penzberg 2006.
  • K. A. Weithofer: Das Pechkohlengebiet des bayerischen Voralpenlandes und die Oberbayerische Aktiengesellschaft für Kohlenbergbau, Denkschrift aus Anlässlich des 50-jährigen Bestandes dieser Gesellschaft (1870-1920), C. Wolf & Sohn, München 1920, 344 pp.

Web links

Commons: Penzberg mine– Collection of pictures, videos and audio files

Individual references

  1. Karl Luberger, Stadt Penzberg (ed.): Geschichte der Stadt Penzberg, 2nd edition. 1975.
  2. Penzberg Mining Trail.(PDF; 30 KB) In: GeoLehrpfade inBayern, Nr. 152. Bayerisches Landesamt für Umwelt, November 2013, retrieved 28 December 2015.
  3. Bergknappenverein Penzberg OB. e.V. / Reiter Mining Monument
  4. Information brochure: Penzberg Mining Museum
  5. Chronology of the Penzberg mining industry(Memento of August 4, 2012 in the Web Archive) Website operator: Knappenverein Peißenberg.
  6. a b Karl Luberger: History of the town of Penzberg, page 59
  7. Karl Luberger: Geschichte der Stadt Penzberg. Ed.: City of Penzberg. 1. Edition. 1969, S.  58–59.
  8. Karl Luberger: History of the town of Penzberg, page 60
  9. Karl Luberger: History of the town of Penzberg, page 89
  10. Karl Luberger (ed.): Geschichte der Stadt Penzberg, 3rd edition Year = 1983. Buchdruckerei Michael Laßleben, Kallmünz via Regensburg, various places
  11. Karl Luberger (ed.): Geschichte der Stadt Penzberg, 3rd edition Year = 1983. Buchdruckerei Michael Laßleben, Kallmünz via Regensburg, various places
  12. Barbara Greinwald: Mining in Upper Bavaria. In: Brigitte Raab (ed.): Der Oberbaierische Fest-Täg und Alte-Bräuch-Kalender 2016. Raab-Verlag, Iffeldorf 2015, ISBN 978-3-9814583-4-3, p. 64.
  14. The Retrieved November 12, 2015.