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Regional route Saar-Lor-Lux | Germany

For centuries the region along the Saar, Lorraine and Luxembourg has been deeply influenced by the borders between them. Whereas now the area comprising the Saar, Lorraine and Luxembourg is effortlessly joined by two hyphens – Saar-Lor-Lux – in former times the borders between the three used to change ... more

Transcending borders …: industrial heritage in the Saar-Lorraine-Luxembourg area

For centuries the region along the Saar, Lorraine and Luxembourg has been deeply influenced by the borders between them. Whereas now the area comprising the Saar, Lorraine and Luxembourg is effortlessly joined by two hyphens – Saar-Lor-Lux – in former times the borders between the three used to change regularly at the end of wars. Nonetheless without the "Minette" (iron ore with a relatively small proportion of iron) from Lorraine it was impossible to make steel in the Saar because there were no borders underground. Iron ore deposits lay to the southwest of Luxembourg and stretched out in the direction of Nancy. Coal seams spread throughout both the Bavarian and the Prussian parts of the Saar. Later on the development of a global market for raw materials spelt the end of ore and steel in the area. That said, they still share a common industrial history and an omnipresent industrial heritage. Iron ore, coal and steel go together like the Völklinger Hütte world cultural heritage site, the Musée de la Mine in Petite Rosselle and the Industrial and Railway Park in Fond-de-Gras, Luxembourg.

The inhabitants were confronted with the challenge of both natural and political borders. The galleries in the Rischbach mine in St. Ingbert were extended underground to transport coal because the steep overground road made the journey too dangerous and expensive, and it was forbidden to deliver coal to the area across the nearby Prussian border. A steel trough carrying ships up a lift in Saint-Louis/Arzviller replaced a chain of sluices in the Rhine-Marne canal. By contrast salt mining in Marsal came to an abrupt end when a military architect by the name of Vauban transformed the town into a fortress on the orders of Louis XIV in 1699. The Franco-German war of 1870/71 resulted in further shifts in borders: the upshot was that the French village of Meisenthal where a glass merchant named Emil Gallé produced his wares now became a German village. This, however, did not prevent the patriotic Gallé from stamping his vases and bowls with the name "Nancy".

In the industrial age transcending borders made it a duty to produce superlative goods as efficiently as possible. In 1883 the first blast furnace to be erected in the region, the Völklinger Hütte, was simultaneously the largest in the Saar. In 1890 the largest beam rolling mill in the German Empire stood here. After 1945 the Petite Rosselle colliery comprising four shafts was one of the largest heavy industry sites in the whole of France. Although shaft 4 of the old Göttelborn colliery – the "White Giant" –was almost 100 metres high and 1200 metres deep, it was never really exploited to the full. Whilst the turbines on the engines of the fine mechanical workshop in the Fellenberg mill in Merzig continued, as ever, to be driven by hydraulic power.

Just as the underground treasures of nature paid no heed to political borders, so class boundaries dictated the industrial heritage of the Saar-Lor-Lux region. The architecture in and around the workers housing estates reflected the social hierarchy in the "empires" of the mill barons: these ranged from mansion to dormitory house, miner’s dwelling to manager’s villa. Such boundaries permeated right into the everyday life of the workers as can be seen by the way the housing was distributed in the old coal mine in Velsen. There workers and their families were kept apart according to their religious confessions, their family status and rank.

Industrial heritage means transcending past boundaries and other countries. The specific attraction of the museums and cultural venues in the Saar-Lor-Lux region lies in the fact that they can recount the history of coal, iron ore, steel, glass, ceramics and salt and remind visitors of a time long past.

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ERIH Anchor Points

Petite-Rosselle | France

The sheer size of the central tip is enough to ...

Parc Explor Wendel
F 57540 Petite-Rosselle, France

Völklingen | Germany

The Völklinger Hütte (ironworks) in Germany’s ...

World Heritage Site Voelklingen Iron Works
Europäisches Zentrum für Kunst und Industriekultur
Rathausstraße 75
66302 Völklingen, Germany

Rumelange | Luxembourg

Helmets on, enter the mine train and off it ...

National Museum of Iron Ore Mines
Musée National des Mines de Fer Luxembourgeoises
Carreau de la Mine Walert
3714 Rumelange, Luxembourg

Member Sites ERIH Association

Uckange | France

Blast furnace U4 is a rusty fossil. The oldest ...

Blast Furnace U4
Parc haut-fourneau U4
1, Jardin des Traces
57270 Uckange, France

Esch-sur-Alzette | Luxembourg

The southern part of the Grand Duchy of ...

Belval Blast Furnaces
Le Fons Belval
6 avenue des Hauts Fourneaux
4362 Esch-sur-Alzette, Luxembourg

Niederkorn | Luxembourg

At first sight the “vallée de la Chiers” looks ...

Minett Park Fond-de-Gras
2, Fond-de-Gras
4576 Niederkorn, Luxembourg

Arzviller | France

Competition between the waterways and the ...

Saint-Louis-Arzviller canal inclined plane
Association Touristique du Plan Incliné Saint-Louis-Arzviller
Route du Plan Incliné
57820 Arzviller, France

Aumetz | France

There´s no steel without coke. It was only when ...

Iron ore-mine museum of Aumetz
Musee des Mines de Fer d’Aumetz
Rue Saint Léger de Montbrillais
57110 Aumetz, France

Marsal | France

Marsal’s existence is built on salt. The ...

Marsal Salt Museum
Musée département du Sel
Porte de France
57630 Marsal, France

Meisenthal | France

Since the end of the 15th century there have ...

International Glass Center and Glass Museum
Place Robert Schuman
57960 Meisenthal, France

Neufchef | France

Lorraine iron ore was the first victim of ...

Ecomuseum of the Iron Mines of Lorraine
Musée des Mines de Fer de Neufchef
Vallée de Sainte Neige
57700 Neufchef, France

Saint-Louis-lès-Bitche | France

The first written record of the Münzthal ...

La Grande Place – The Saint-Louis Museum of Crystal
Rue Coetlosquet
57620 Saint-Louis-lès-Bitche, France

Sarreguemines | France

The French Revolution was followed by the ...

Museums of Sarreguemines
125, avenue de la Blies
57200 Sarreguemines, France

Bexbach | Germany

If you want to go back deep into the past, you ...

Saarland Mining Museum
Niederbexbacher Straße
66450 Bexbach, Germany

Düppenweiler | Germany

Coal mining is a dominant feature of the ...

Historical Copper Mine
Piesbacher Straße
66701 Beckingen-Düppenweiler, Germany

Losheim am See | Germany

Everything grinds to a halt if there are no ...

Losheim railway and museum
Streifstraße
66679 Losheim am See, Germany

Merzig | Germany

Coal is not the only source of power: but also ...

Fellenberg mill fine mechanical workshop
Marienstraße 34
66663 Merzig, Germany

Mettlach | Germany

When people talk about "cathedrals of ...

The House of Villeroy & Boch
Saaruferstraße
66693 Mettlach, Germany

Quierschied-Göttelborn | Germany

In Göttelborn nothing is as it seems at first ...

Göttelborn Pit and Housing Estate
Zum Schacht
66287 Quierschied-Göttelborn, Germany

Saarbrücken | Germany

The Velsen colliery is a typical Saarland mine. ...

Velsen Visitor Mine
Alte Grube Velsen
66127 Saarbrücken, Germany

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