Coal mining is a dominant feature of the industrial and social history of the Saarland. But in Düppenweiler they used to mine copper. In 1723 a peasant came upon a lump of cupriferous rock whilst ploughing and in 1725 copper mining began. In the 19th century the copper mine passed into the ownership of the Dillinger mill. Copper was mined for the last time here in 1915/16. In 1992 the Friends of the Historic Copper Ore Mine in Düppenweiler took over the site and have reconstructed it both above and below ground.
At the start there was a lot of wild mining. But then a copper smelting expert by the name of Remacle Renard Joseph de Hauzeur bought up the site. Colliers from the Erzgebirge region mined copper, cobalt and lead for him in wet and cramped conditions: the galleries were only one and a half metres high. In 1776 plans were made to install the first steam engine in the Saar region, but its sheer size caused a flood. So winch-boys underground drew off the water and horses raised it to the surface by turning a capstan. Prayer and work went hand-in-hand in the reconstructed St Barbara Chapel and the neighbouring smithy, the remains of which have been preserved. An open area of low-lying spoil tips and the entrances to four shafts mark the surface area of the copper mine.
The visitor mine contains a 600 meter gallery below ground, along with four reopened shafts, complete with their corresponding equipment, going down between 10 and 18 metres,. The whole ensemble leaves a powerful impression of what work used to be like here. You only have to go down 80 steps to find yourself in the middle of cramped, damp and stressful conditions. The magical “mystallica” tour of the galleries uses lighting effects and texts in the small gangways to tell visitors about water, the natural enemy of copper miners, all the way up to the “cathedral” built on several wooden stage areas. On the surface, text boards tell visitors about the history of the mine, the techniques used in the shafts, and how the copper ore was processed. In the former administrative building the Friends of the Museum have set up a small restaurant. In the future they are aiming to install a smeltery and a “knocking” work. The latter was used to help miners distinguish between ore and waste rock. On action days they intend to put it all into operation.