Vordernberg was for many centuries the main centre of iron smelting south of the mountain. Most of the surviving monuments date from the reorganization of the trade in the mid-19th century. The centre of the town is a well with an elaborate wrought-iron cover of 1668. Adjacent to it is Radwerk IV, a blast furnace of 1846 which has been preserved intact since it was finally blown out in 1911, with its charcoal barn, calcining kilns, bellows and casting house. It is now a museum in which the methods of furnace operation can be studied in amazing detail – one of the exhibits is a press for the clay balls used to close the tapping holes.
Less than 100 m north is Radwerk III, where the steam engine of 1873 that powered the bellows is preserved, and a further 150 m north is Radwerk I, where the charcoal barns and all the buildings apart from the furnace stack remain. Also in the centre of Vordernberg are the mining academy of 1840, the Lehrfrisch-Hütte or apprentice forge where smiths learned their trade, the stack of furnace Radwerk X and a plinthed 0-6-2T tank locomotive of 1908 which worked on the Erzbergbahn.
Vordernberg was linked with Eisenerz by an early railway with inclined planes, the Vordernberger Förderbahn, of which archaeological evidence can still be seen. The line was replaced in 1891 by the Erzbergbahn, a standard gauge rack railway on which steam traction was employed until 1981. The line is no longer used for carrying iron ore and regular passenger trains have been withdrawn. Since 2003 the track and the railcars that use it have been owned by a voluntary organisation, the Verein Erzbergbahn, which operates trains for visitors in the summer months. A huge 2-12-2T tank locomotive built for the line in 1941 is preserved at the main station at Vordernberg, the terminus of a branch from Leoben.
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|Gift and book shop on site:
daily on request