top of page


The salt miner understands watering to mean filling the weirs with water to produce brine. In addition to the water brought into the pit, water is also used for watering in from outside the pit, e.g. B. stream water, used, which is directed underground via its own watering pipes.


wooden tubes:

The drainage pipes were initially built from wooden tubes drilled by hand. To do this, tree trunks that had just grown and had no knots, mostly spruce or larch, were drilled open lengthwise with drills. The inner diameter of the wooden tubes was 80 - 100 mm, in exceptional cases up to 130 mm, the length between 1 fathom (1.9 m) and 15 feet (4.7 m).

To join the wooden tubes, each tube was tapered at one end and flared at the other end so that the tapered end of one could be driven into the flare of the other tube. The conically pointed end ("snout") was made with the carving knife, the widened end ("mouth") with the conical widening drill. Before binding, the muzzle was greased with animal fat (“tallow”) and wrapped with a thin strip of flax (“werch”). The tubes were actually fastened at the connection point by an iron ring, which was pushed open on the outside of the mouth .


Figure 1: Neuberg - Stollen, production of wooden pipes, Kefer, 1826, archive Salinen Austria


Figure 2: Production of wooden tubes, description of manipulation, 1807/1815, Archiv Salinen Austria


Figure 3: Production of wooden tubes using a tube drill, Internet


Laying of wooden tubes, Kefer, 1836, Kranabitl archive

The wood from which the tubes were drilled had to be drained. To do this, the tree trunks were placed in their own "tube troughs" that were filled with water or, better, brine. The finished drilled wooden tubes were also stored in brine until they were used, so that they did not crack and leak.

The wooden so-called six-pipes with an inner diameter of 10 cm and five-pipes with an inner diameter of 8 cm were used to supply the fresh water ("return water").  Due to the small inner diameter of the wooden tubes, a double tube run often had to be laid for larger amounts of water to be introduced.

The durability of the wooden tubes, which were laid without being debarked and could be used with a pressure of up to 2 atm, was up to 30 years with fresh water and up to 100 years with brine.

Since the wooden tubes often leaked due to the swelling of the tunnel floor, especially in the Hasel Mountains, an enormous amount of maintenance was required.

Cast Iron Pipes:

The wooden pipes are gradually replaced by cast-iron pipes from around 1840. Cast-iron pipes could be made in any ratio of diameters, while wooden pipes were usually only 80 to 100 mm in diameter. Furthermore, the cast-iron tubes withstood a significantly higher operating pressure of up to 10 atm.


Figure 4: Cast-iron pipes, around 1845, Archiv Salinen Austria

The cast-iron pipelines consisted entirely of sleeve pipes. The cast-iron pipes were connected by inserting the socket-like extension of one pipe into the second pipe, the other end of which also had a socket-like extension. Wooden wedges were driven in around the annular opening formed by the outer periphery and inner circumference. In this way, the cast-iron tubes could be connected to one another in a completely watertight manner. This type of connection also had the advantage that the cast-iron pipes could expand and contract when the temperature changed without the connection becoming leaky.

The running meter weight with a diameter of 125 mm was around 32 kg for cast-iron tubes.

Experience has shown that cast-iron pipes lasted a good 50 years. After that, they had to be replaced because the cast-iron tubes were subject to severe corrosion, especially from the outside.


Figure 5: Cast iron pipes, Hallstatt brine line, Internet

Watering into the Steinberg camp:

The Mitterberg tunnel, which was opened in 1563 as the first tunnel of the Ischler Salzberg, crushed heavy water inflows in the calcareous cover layers after penetrating through the salt deposit, which caused great difficulties to cope with. The water inflow was so great that the first water tunnel had to be built 7 additional Stabel (8.4m) above the Mitterberg tunnel and driven to a length of 93 Stabel (111.1m).

The water rushed in as early as 1596 and the amount of water brought in was even able to drive a mill wheel. Despite all efforts, it had not been possible to find and cordon off the point of entry. In the end, one had to content oneself with collecting the waste water in the main shaft and channeling it to the surface in gutters.

However, the mountain water that was brought in could be used to fill the 3 dams or discharge weirs set up in the Mitterberg tunnel. For filling, the water had to be conducted to the burrows in wooden pipes. The 6 water dams built in the old Steinberg tunnel could also be supplied with water via the main trench leading down from the Mitterberg tunnel.

The Mitterberg tunnel was already in use around 1656 and was only used to drain mine water. In 1689 the Mitterberg tunnel was finally completely abandoned. After 1725 the only pumping structure that was built in the new Steinberg tunnel had also soaked up, the Steinberg camp was finally abandoned in 1775 and the drainage in this area was shut down.


Figure 6: Steinberg camp, water tunnel, Kefer, 1829, archive Salinen Austria

Watering into the Pernecker warehouse:

In 1567, the Lipplesgraben tunnel was the first tunnel to be struck on the Pernecker camp. In this tunnel 5 bailers were built. In order to introduce the fresh water required for the watering, the "Niedere Wasserstollen" had to be tapped above the Lipplesgraben tunnel at 1,024m above sea level on the Rainfalz. The lower water tunnel was driven 75 Stabel (89.4m) long in the Tauben Mountains and was connected via a 31 Stabel (37.0m) long drainage pit to the Neuhauser bend in the Lipplesgraben tunnel. The fresh water was collected from a spring located above the watering pit during the day, led to the pit through vertical wooden pipes and distributed to the dams in the pit via wooden pipes. The often leaking wooden pipelines led to water leaks and the Haselgebirge to swell, which made the maintenance of the tunnel much more difficult and expensive.


Figure 7: Lower water tunnel with water scour on Lipplesgraben tunnel, Kefer, 1826, Archiv Salinen Austria


Figure 8: Lower water tunnel, location on Reinfalzalm, Kefer, 1826, Archiv Salinen Austria


Figure 9: Lower water tunnel, buried mouth, 2020, Kranabitl archive

Around 1654 the Lipplesgraben tunnel was almost completely drained. From this time on, the tunnel was only kept open to drain fresh water so that it could not cause any damage in the tunnels below.

In 1577 the Matthias tunnel was struck as the next, deeper building. A total of 9 waterworks were created in the Matthias tunnel. The fresh water required for the leaching was introduced from the stream and the springs in the area of the Matthias tunnel mouth hole. The water collected in wooden tubes was fed into the mountain via the Matthias tunnel – main shaft and distributed to the individual pumping stations. The water could also be fed into the weirs of lower-lying tunnels via trenches leading from the Matthias tunnel – main shaft.  


Technical improvements of the watering:

At the end of the 18th century, the watering of the outlet weirs still had major technical shortcomings. The biggest deficiency was the small flow cross-section of the wooden drainage pipes. That's why filling a larger leach plant took months. Of course, this long filling time favored the expansion of the work elm and thereby increased the danger of the neighboring workers cutting together. It was therefore necessary to construct and maintain many and large intersection dams, to heighten and lengthen them as required. This constantly required a considerable amount of housing and tamping.

A first attempt to reduce the filling times was to increase the pressure in the wooden drainage pipes. From 1769, the water needed to water down the weirs was routed through a surface dig above the St. Johannes tunnel, which had been struck in 1725, and from there via the Saherböck dig to the Matthias tunnel main shaft. The water could simply be taken from the Sulzbach stream that flowed past and fed into the mountain using wooden pipes.


Figure 10: Water digging in the area of the Johannes and Matthias tunnels, Kefer, 1829, Archiv Salinen Austria

From 1784, additional water was collected in a "watering hut" above the Matthias tunnel from the Sulzbach and from a strong spring and diverted via the newly built watering pit to the Matthias tunnel - main shaft.


Figure 11: Drainage scour on Matthias tunnel, around 1780, Archiv Salinen Austria


Figure 12: Orifice drainage scour, Matthias Stollen, 2018, Kranabitl archive

From there, the water got, depending on the need, either through the pastor Weissbacher - Schurf and the subsequent digging to the weirs located on the evening side (west side) in the deeper tunnels. The morning (eastern) weirs could be over the v. Adlersberg - conversion and the Weilenböcker - digging and the subsequent digging can be achieved.

In 1842, Bergmeister Schwind began laying cast-iron water pipes on the Ischler Salzberg. This made it possible to significantly shorten the long distance that the water collected in the upper horizons had to cover to fill the leach workers, since the iron pipes could be under higher pressure than the wooden pipes. It was now possible to quickly supply larger amounts of water to the production workers and to drain the sections that had been soaked by the weeping wooden pipes.

The installation of cast-iron brine and water pipes did not seem urgent to the Ischl mountain championship. They were forced to do so only when the previous water supply route in the upper horizon was abandoned and the drainage pipe was relocated to sections with a counter-slope in places, in which wooden pipes could not be used. According to Schwind's plan, the new line was to be laid from the Bader - Schurf (Frauenholz on Amalia tunnel) via the Springer - Kehr, the Scharf - and Liska - conversion (Amalia tunnel) to the Vasold - Schurf (Amalia on Elisabeth tunnel), the supply allow larger amounts of water into the production workers and drain the sections that have been soaked by the weeping wooden pipes. According to the decision of the Court Chamber, the procurement of the necessary iron pipes was to be spread over the years 1842, 1843 and 1844.

Those connecting structures that had become superfluous after the drainage pipe was relocated in 1842 were left open. These included the Niedere Wasser Stollen - Schachtricht and the Wasserschurf (Niederer Wasser -  on Lipplesgraben - tunnel), the rear Lipplesgraben - and Johannes - tunnel, some stretches in the Matthias - and Neuberg - tunnel as well as the Kößler - conversion in the Frauenholz - tunnel.

Subsequently, tests were also carried out with concrete pipes made from the "hydraulic lime" burned at the Ischler Salzberg. The relatively heavy concrete pipes could not assert themselves against the lighter cast iron pipes.

The dimensions of the cement pipe were 3.66 feet (1.16 m) long, 2½ inches (6.66 cm) wall thickness and 5 inches (13.15 cm) inside diameter. The weight of a cement pipe was around 100 kg.


Illustration 13 : Concrete pipe, Matthias Stollen, 2011, Kranabitl archive

In 1883, in order to secure the machine and watering operation in times of water shortage, the construction of a large water collection trough made of concrete near the Matthias tunnel was approved in place of the rotten collection box made of wood that had existed for ages.


Figure 14: Water - basin and water digging - hut, Matthias Stollen, 1891, Archiv Salinen Austria


Figure 15: Concrete basin, drainage pit Matthias Stollen, 2018, Kranabitl archive

This water collection trough, covered with a simple wooden hut, used to feed the winding machine and for watering purposes, caused a cost of 932 fl 85 xr.

Most of the old tunnels driven into the top of the salt deposits ran through the Hasel Mountains down to the water-bearing limestone layers surrounding the salt mountains. In particular, the heavily dolomitized and fissured Hallstatt limestone favored the penetration of even very high springs into deeper mountain layers.


Factory declines and collapses in 1843:

In 1843, as a result of the collapse of several factories in the Frauenholz and Elisabeth horizon, the aquiferous hanging layers collapsed extensively and large amounts of fresh water penetrated up to the horizon of the Ludovika tunnel. As a result, the entire operation of the Ischler Salzberg was massively endangered.

A commission made up of the most experienced miners of the Kammergut at the end of 1843 decided after measuring the area where the mine was broken and using a model of the Ischl salt mine that had been made, that the water that had penetrated was drained from the Lower Rosenkogel and through an extension from the Potie - dig between the Neuberg - and Frauenholz - Horizon could be intercepted. After several unsuccessful attempts to build, the stormwater was finally managed in this way, it was collected in the Ferro water vent and drained harmlessly via the Keeler rubble (60 m high water shaft) into the Amalia tunnel. In addition, the companionways made accessible by extension routes were secured by numerous support boxes and, from 1845, filled with rubble stones excavated from the surface. The waste water that was so successfully dealt with could be used for the watering.


Figure 16: Decline area 1843, pit plan 1865, archive Salinen Austria


Figure 17: Water drainage over Keeler rubble, 1848, Archiv Salinen Austria


Figure 18: Ferro Wasseroffen spring outlet, 1998, Kranabitl archive

Figure 19: Ferro Wasseroffen, 1998, Kranabitl archive


Figure 20: Ferro Wasseroffen, 1998, Kranabitl archive

Production figures around 1900:

The average amount of water that was intercepted in the pit around 1900 and diverted, or used in part for brine production, was around 2,566,000 hl per year in Ischl, of which 166,000 hl are for the Klebersberg (7 hl/h) and Stampfer springs (12th hl/h) in the Maria Theresia horizon. In addition, around 800,000 hl of stream water were fed into the pit through a drainage pipe from the Johannes and Matthias tunnels.

Around 1900, 700,000 hl of brine were produced annually in the Ischl salt mine. This required 22-26 washings of the leach works, each delivering an average of 30,000 hl of brine per washing. A medium-sized leaching plant required 31,000 hl of filling water, as experience has shown that a few percent of this remained in the Laist.

The existing water pipes were able to supply an average of 180 hl of filling water per hour. This resulted in a period of around 7 days for a factory filling.


Construction of the Törlbach watering pipeline:

Until 1932, the drainage route led via the drainage Schurf to the Matthias Stollen main shaft and on this further to the Plenzner Schurf leading down into the Neuberg Stollen. In addition, another, additional water pipe led from the St. Johannes tunnel via the Saherböck Schurf down to the Matthias tunnel – main shaft.

In 1931, during the main inspection, it was decided to leave the Johannes and Matthias tunnels open because future watering was to take place from the Sulzbach via an above-ground line into the Maria Theresia tunnels. For this reason, dams were built in 1932 at the end of the tunnel and at the head of the Plenzner and Weissbacher quarry. A final inspection to check the dams took place on February 5, 1934. The tunnel entrances to the Matthias tunnel and the drainage pit were then finally sealed.

In 1930, a new drainage pipe was built from the Sulzbach or Törlbach to replace the old drainage from the St. Johannes and Matthias tunnels.


Figure 21: Törlbach drainage pipe, 1930, Archiv Salinen Austria

The Törlbach drainage pipe led from the Sulzbach inlet object at 790 m above sea level on the Sulzbach along the slope 117.5 m to the path, in the body of the same 97.0 m to the filter building, from this back to the path 2.5 m, through its body 192 m to the meadow the same 169.5 m to the mountain forge and through the western main wall into the Maria Theresia tunnel hall.

The line consisted of cast-iron sleeve pipes with a diameter of 125mm. It was consistently embedded 1.0m deep. The total length from the inlet structure to the tunnel hall was 580.5m. At a distance of 214.5 m from the inflow into the inlet object, a filter box was installed with an inlet, flushing, outlet and overflow line. The gradient from the inlet object to the filter box – inlet was 15.9m, from the filter box – outlet to the Maria Theresia – tunnel hall 91.5m.


Figure 22: Törlbach drainage pipe, intake structure, 1934, archive Salinen Austria


Figure 23: Törlbach drainage pipe, intake structure, 2018, Kranabitl archive


Figure 24: Törlbach drainage pipe, Brunnhaus, 2018, Kranabitl archive


Figure 25: Törlbach drainage pipe, measuring trough in the Brunnhaus, 2018, archive Kranabitl

From the Maria Theresia tunnel hall, the line led on the right Ulm on foundation wood through the Maria Theresia main shaft to the Hintermaier scour and through this to the measuring trough in the Kaiser Josef horizon. The length from the tunnel hall to the measuring trough was 1,641.8m. The incline from the Maria Theresia - tunnel hall to the Hintermaier - Schurf was 37.3m, from the Hintermaier - Schurf to the measuring trough 36.8m. In the Maria Theresia tunnel hall, a cleaning box was installed at the lowest point of the line to remove dirt and drain the line.

The total length of the pipeline from the inflow to the measuring trough was 2,223.3m.

As compensation for the use of the forest's own reason for laying the line, the transfer of the Matthias - Stollenhütte to the property of the Bad Ischl forest administration from January 1, 1932 and the payment of an amount of 250 ATS to the same was agreed with the Bad Ischl forest administration .

In the negotiating document of the BH Gmunden from May 7th, 1931 it was stipulated that more than 200 hl per hour may only be taken from the Törlbach if the water works of Anton Rietzinger in Perneck are out of operation at low water levels or at higher water levels then, if the operation of the waterworks is not impaired. The withdrawal of 200 hl per hour for the purposes of salt pan management is permitted at all water levels.

In another notification from the BH Gmunden dated August 22, 1951, it was stated that Anton Rietzinger's sawmill in Perneck No. 13 was no longer operated with hydroelectric power, which meant that the restriction to a withdrawal of 200 hl per hour could be lifted.

The drainage line from the Sulzbach was used until March 2008. In the last few years of operation, between 20 and 40 m³ of water per hour were taken from the Sulzbach and fed into the pit's watering operation, depending on requirements.

Another important water inflow continues to come from the Keeler debris in the Amalia adit. Around 50m³/h of water are now collected in 2 plastic pipes at the head of the Keeler rubble and drained down the shaft. The pipelines lead over the Layer and Liska conversion to the Amalia tunnel - main shaft, from there via the Wimmer -, Veiten -, Erlach - and Hintermaier - Schurf into the Maria Theresia tunnel - main shaft and via the Werner shaft into the Leopold - Down the tunnel. At the foot of the Werner shaft there is an equalization tank with level measurement, from which the pipeline leads to the central shaft and via this to the 2nd civil engineering or to the Erb tunnel.


Figure 26: Drainage pipes Keeler Schutt shaft base, 2016, IGM archive

Since the brine production in the Ischler Salzberg has been shut down since February 2011, the water from the Keeler - rubble flows unused over the Amalia tunnel - main shaft to the surface.


Sources used:

Carl Schraml "The Upper Austrian salt works from the beginning of the 16th to the middle of the 18th century", Vienna 1932

Carl Schraml "The Upper Austrian Salt Works from 1750 to the time after the French Wars", Vienna 1934

Carl Schraml "The Upper Austrian Salt Works from 1818 to the end of the Salt Office in 1850", Vienna 1936

L. Janiss "Technical help book for the Austrian salt mining company", Vienna 1934

August Aigner "Salt mining in the Austrian Alps", Berg- und Hüttenmännisches yearbook, Vienna 1892

Ischl home club "Bad Ischl home book 2004", Bad Ischl 2004                                                                                                                                  

Kurt Thomanek "Grains of Salt", Leoben 2007

Michael Klade "ÖSAG - Alpine Salt Mining", Altaussee 1998

Thomas Nussbaumer "Ischler situation books no. 32, 50 and 64a regarding watering", transcription 2018

Alfred Pichler "Lipplesgrabenstollenhütte", State Association for Speleology, Linz, 2003

Carl Karsten "Textbook of Saline Science", Berlin 1847

Ischler Lagerbuch No. 32, "Draining hut at the Matthias tunnel", transcription by Thomas Nussbaumer, July 1, 2018

Ischler stock book no. 64a, "New drainage pipe", transcription by Thomas Nussbaumer, July 1, 2018

bottom of page