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In mining, extraction is understood as the loading activity and the removal of mined rock from the extraction point (“excavation extraction”) via driven routes (“transportation”) or shafts (“shaft extraction”) to the surface. In addition to the conveyance of materials, the "man's journey" developed over time, which transports the miners to their underground workplaces.


Funding in prehistoric times:

From primeval to medieval mining, the mined rock was transported to the surface with troughs, baskets or disk chests.

The carrying sacks found in the prehistoric Hallstatt salt mine are particularly famous. With the more than 3000 year old sacks, up to 30 kg of salt could be carried on the back with day straps. A short stick, which was attached to the upper part of the sack and had to be held when carrying it, led over the left shoulder. The sacks were emptied to the side quickly and effortlessly by releasing the stick.


Figure 1: Prehistoric carrying bag, Hallstatt salt mine, Internet

Funding with Spurnagelhunten:

In the 16th century, small, wooden chests on four wheels ("pit haulers") were introduced to increase the conveying capacity. The first Hunte consisted of a simple, iron-bound wooden box with a capacity of about 150 liters.


 Figure 2: Spurnagelhunt, Agricola, 1556, Internet

There were two different versions of the first hunts: the "German" and the "Hungarian mine hunt". The German design had four wheels of equal size, whereas the front wheels of the Hungarian mine hunt were smaller, meaning that the car's center of gravity was in front of the rear wheels. This had the advantage that the Hunt could be easily lifted at the front by pressing down a rear handle bar, so that it only had to be pushed on the rear wheels in curves, saving energy.

The old salt mining tunnels all had a large outward gradient, mostly 2 to 5.5%.

This large gradient was mainly chosen because of the high frictional resistance of the conveying equipment and for the good drainage of water and brine, because the cross-sections of the wooden tubes were only 80 to 100 mm in diameter.


Figure 3: Hungarian track nail hunt, Salina manipulation description, 1807 – 1815, Archiv Salinen Austria


Figure 4: Track nail hunt for log transport, description of saline manipulation, 1807 – 1815, archive Salinen Austria


Figure 5: Laist conveyance with Spurnagelhunten, Kefer, 1836, Archiv Salinen Austria

In the beginning, the pit trains were moved on the mere sole of the tunnel. In order to make this strenuous work easier, wooden rails (“rods”) were laid on the floor from the middle of the 16th century. The poles were two thick boards mounted lying together, separated by a narrow, central longitudinal gap about 4 cm wide. This longitudinal gap served as a guide for the guide pin ("track nail") attached to the bottom of the hunt. The toe pin mounted between the front wheels of the Hunted protruded into the gap and thus prevented the Hunted from swerving sideways from the linkage boards.

The wooden track nail carts used in salt mining had a capacity of 4 to 5 Kbfs. (0.13 to 0.16 m³). The toe pin was fitted with a friction roller; the wheels consisted of wooden discs, the rims of which were shod with an iron band. One reason given for the steeply inclined position of the Hunte box and the resulting unevenness of the wheels was that the Hunte stomp needed to bend down less with the same capacity of the vessel.

The hunt also got its name from the track nail. Because when the track spike drove in front of it in the rut, there was a howling noise not unlike a dog.


Figure 6: Track nail hunt on rods, Kefer, 1836, Archiv Salinen Austria


Figure 7: Emptying the track nail conveyor at the lintel, Kefer, 1836, Archiv Salinen Austria

In 1748, the more important hairpin bends of the Ischler Salzberg were provided with new pole rides, which were not shod with iron but cut from beech wood for greater durability. As a result, the conveying capacity increased significantly.


Figure 8: Rod switch, Kefer, 1836, Archive Salinen Austria

The Spurnail railways could only be used with small trains and low speeds. Nevertheless, they survived in the narrow and low water places of the salt mountains until the 20th century. They are still in use today at the Bräunerberg tunnel in Altaussee.


Figure 9:  Track nail hunt on rods, Breunerberg - tunnel, Altaussee salt mine, 1954, archive Salinen Austria


Figure 10: Track nail hunt, Museum Bad Aussee, Bartos archive


Figure 11: Modern Spurnagelhunte, Breunerberg tunnel, Altaussee salt mine, 1993, Kranabitl archive

Hallein carts:

In addition to these track nail hoists, the Salzbergen also used a two-wheeled cart, the so-called Halleiner Karren, which required its own track on routes, but could be handled with great ease by workers on the bare, jammed and trampled sole.


Figure 12; Halleiner Karren, Dürrnberg salt mine, 1902, archive Salinen Austria

The cart initially used in Hallein consisted of a kind of frame made of two long pieces of wood, which were held together by tenoned bars. The cart was bumped against a transverse handwood. A fixed iron axle was attached to its own latch under the box's center of gravity. Attached to it were two light wheels made in the manner of wagon wheels, which were 18'' (0.47 m) apart. The boxes held 4 to 5 hundredweight (224 - 280 kg) of Laist or 6 to 7 hundredweight (336 - 392 kg) of rock salt, it was open at the front and instead of the front wall it was closed by a template board, which was removed before falling. When falling, the cart was tilted forward accordingly. The wheels were not equipped with brakes, but on steep places the conveyor helped himself by standing on the handwood or putting a bolt through the wheels.

For this cart, the track on the routes consisted of long trees, the "basic timbers" on which the transverse 1 ½ '' (4.0 cm) thick shutters, the "Tretholze" lay, which were nailed down by track slats, the "Joints". , held to the base timbers. The joists formed a track width of 22'' (0.58 m), within which the wheels ran as with angle rails.

The track for the Hallein carts was very wood-eating, without the conveying load being significantly greater than with a well-equipped hunt run. The advantage of the Hallein carts, however, was that they were very mobile on the mere worker's sole, as they could easily be rotated in a circle when standing on the same point.


Figure 13: Halleiner Karren, used for cleaning the works, Kefer, 1836, Archiv Salinen Austria


Figure 14: Halleiner carts, Leopold tunnels, salt mines in Bad Ischl, Feichtinger archives

English Hunte:

At the beginning of the 19th century, cast-iron wheels with "wheel flanges" (bulges on the inside of the wheels) came to Austria from England. For the "English linkage" it was necessary that correspondingly straight and level rails were laid on which the Hunte ran. In order to be able to ride on the existing wooden rails with such wheels, flat bars were initially attached to the tops of the posts. The wooden rails were not replaced by rolled iron rails until the middle of the 19th century.

Due to the lower rolling resistance of the new Hunte on rails, the conveying capacity could be significantly increased, which is why the "English tram" together with the driveway sloped evenly and slightly  Tunnels and routes interspersed.

In 1841 the first railway of the Ischler Salzberg was built on the Maria Theresia main shaft. For this purpose, however, the slope of the main shaft had to be compensated for by an expensive floor regulation in order to reduce the ascent for the large iron trains moving inwards. The wagons had cast-iron spoked wheels with a diameter of 14 inches (368 mm) and a capacity of four previous Hunten. The gauge was 23 Vienna inches (605 mm). With a level gradient, the filled Hunte slowly rolled out by themselves, the empty Hunte could be pushed inwards by a man ("Huntstosser").

The hauls were emptied above ground near the mouth of the tunnel on shoring scaffolding, which was erected like a grate over the channel of the streams flowing by.

In this way, the extraction of the exhausted Haselgebirge sludge (“Werklaist”), which accumulated in large quantities during the cleaning of the poor leaching works of the Ischler Salzberg, could be clearly rationalized.


Figure 15: English giant hunt, around 1840, Archiv Salinen Austria


Figure 16: English hunt, Berchtesgaden salt mine, around 1850, Archiv Salinen Austria


Figure 17: English Hunt, 1889, Archiv Salinen Austria

Pit hoist with wooden body:

For more than 100 years, the Grubenhunt type with spoked wheels, rigid axles and iron-clad wooden body was used in Austrian salt mines. This Hunte had an unladen weight of 300 kg, a capacity of around 0.3 m³ and a total weight of up to 1,300 kg when loaded. The track width was 500 mm. More than 100 of these trains were in use at the Bad Ischl salt mine.


Figure 18: Mining wagons at the Bad Ischl salt mine, 1906, Archiv Salinen Austria


Figure 19: Tram car with wooden body, 1940, Archiv Salinen Austria


Figure 20: Conveyor, cross section Scharf - and Riethaler - Kehr, Maria Theresia tunnel, 1932, archive Salinen Austria


Figure 21: Hunt with wooden body, around 1950, Herbert Fritz Archive


Figure 22: Hunt with wooden structure, heritage tunnel, salt mine Bad Ischl, 2013, Bartos archive

Mine hoist with steel body:

It was only in the 1980s that 750 liter capacity steel-body mine trucks were introduced. If you flip a lever on these hounds, they tilt to the side and the debris falls out of the wagon body by itself. Filled Hounds are very seldom seen above ground in the salt mines, since the saline heaps have to be dumped underground in old mining cavities for environmental reasons.


Figure 23: Mine hunt with steel structure, Erbstollen, salt mine Bad Ischl, 2013, Bartos archive


Figure 24: Mine hunt with steel structure, Erbstollen, Altaussee salt mine, 2010, Bartos archive

pit locomotives:

Mine locomotive “Barabara”:

The first electric mine locomotive in Austria, "Barbara", was built in 1897 by Siemens § Halske based on a design by Prof. Wendelin from the Montanistische Hochschule Leoben. Before it was taken out of service, the locomotive was used for transporting rock salt in the Ferdinandberg tunnel for 13 years and covered no fewer than 83,000 km in those years. The power was 2 hp, the operating weight was 700 kg and the operating voltage was 220 V DC.


Figure 25: "Barbara" mine locomotive, Altaussee salt mine, Herbert Fritz archive


Figure 26: Barbara mine locomotive, Altaussee salt mine, 1898, Herbert Fritz archive


Figure 27: Mine locomotive Barbara, foreign route, Altaussee salt mine, 2010, Bartos archive

Mine locomotives in the Bad Ischl salt mine:

"Ruhrthaler" motor locomotive:

The first motor locomotive for the Bad Ischl salt mine was built by the Ruhrthaler locomotive factory, Schwarz and Dykerhoff in Muellheim an der Ruhr, to drive the Kaiser Franz Josef Erbstollen and put into operation in 1909. The 4-ton petrol locomotive with a maximum engine power of 14 hp had a pulling power of 30 tons on a horizontal track; 12.5 t at a gradient of 1 per thousand. The maximum driving speed was 6 km/h. Power was transmitted from the engine to the wheels via a drive chain. The fuel consumption was around 4 l/h. The length over the buffers was approx. 2.8 m, the height over the upper edge of the rails on the driver's roof was approx. 1.75 m and the width of the locomotive was 0.76 m.  It was built with a wheelbase of 900 mm for a track width of 500 mm.

Since petrol exhaust gases are poisonous due to the high CO content, the locomotive was not very popular with the staff. Nevertheless, after several modifications, it remained in operation until 1954. Since 1999 the locomotive has stood as a memorial in front of the building of the producer in Moers.


Figure 28: Motor locomotive, Kaiser Franz Josef Erbstollen, around 1910, Archive Salinen Austria


Figure 29: Motor locomotive, Kaiser Franz Josef Erbstollen, around 1930, Archive Salinen Austria


Figure 30: Motor locomotive, Kaiser Franz Josef Erbstollen, around 1925, Archive Salinen Austria


Motor locomotive, Kaiser Franz Josef Erbstollen, around 1925, Archive Salinen Austria

battery locomotives:

Around 1930, 3 battery locomotives were purchased in the Bad Ischl salt mine. Two of the 17 kW locomotives powered by electric motors were supplied by AEG and one by Bartz. These zero-emission, low-maintenance locomotives made mine operations much easier.


Figure 31: Battery locomotive, Kaiser Franz Josef Erbstollen, around 1940, Bartos archives


Figure 32: Battery locomotive, art goods transport, Kaiser Franz Josef Erbstollen, 1944, archive Salinen Austria


Figure 33: AEG battery locomotive, Kaiser Franz Josef Erbstollen, 1987, Herbert Fritz archive

 In 1964 another battery locomotive of the type Ez 10 was purchased by the Jung Jungendthal locomotive factory. This locomotive was rebuilt and modernized in the 1990s. Finally, in 1990, the last battery locomotive to be installed at the salt mine in Bad Ischl was a type DGL 8.4 from ELIN. delivered, put into operation.


Figure 34: Battery locomotive Jung, type plan, 1964, Herbert Fritz archive


Figure 35: Young battery locomotive, heap fall, Kaiser Franz Josef Erbstollen, 1987, Herbert Fritz archive


Figure 36: Battery locomotives Jung and Elin, Kaiser Franz Josef Erbstollen, 1996, Herbert Fritz archive


Figure 37: Battery locomotive Elin, Kaiser Franz Josef Erbstollen, 2013, Bartos archive


Illustration 38 : Battery locomotive Elin, charging station, Kaiser Franz Josef Erbstollen, 2013, Bartos archive


Figure 39: Battery locomotive Elin, central shaft station, Kaiser Franz Josef Erbstollen, 2013, Bartos archive

diesel locomotives:

During the main inspection in 1948, it was decided to build a new blind shaft in the stable rock to connect the mining horizons between the Maria Theresia and Franz Josef Erbstollen. For this purpose, the Maria Theresia tunnel was torn down to a profile suitable for locomotive traffic and a 23 hp diesel locomotive from the Ruhrthaler company with a service weight of 5.3 t was purchased in winter 1951.

The length over the buffers of the diesel locomotive type GZ 22 was approx. 3.15 m, the height above the upper edge of the rails on the driver's roof was approx. 1.4 m and the width of the locomotive was 0.78 m.  It was built with a wheelbase of 840 mm for a track width of 500 mm.

A toothed gearbox was flanged directly to the diesel engine. This allowed the diesel locomotive to drive forwards and backwards in 3 speed stages at 3.7 - 6 - 10.8 km/h. The two wheelsets were driven by a drive chain. The axles were mounted in a roller bearing and the frame was sprung with hardened steel leaf springs. The locomotive's braking system consisted of a hand brake acting on all four wheels and a sand container that was operated by hand. The harmful diesel exhaust gases were cleaned in a flue gas scrubber.


Figure 40: Ruhrthal diesel locomotive GZ 22, type plan, 1951, Herbert Fritz archive


Figure 41: Ruhrthal diesel locomotive, Empress Maria Theresia Stollen, 1990, Herbert Fritz archive

In 1955, the new guided path in the Maria Theresia tunnel was put into operation. For the entrance to visitors, "stranger cars" were built, which were pushed in by the Ruhrthaler diesel locomotive around 1,450 m to the station at the central shaft in the Maria Theresia tunnel. Tourist carriages are 4-wheeled hounds with foot and hand brakes, on which up to 10 people per carriage could sit astride a seat board. Lamp holders are attached to the front and rear of the foreign caravans. Each foreign car was equipped with a foot and hand brake. A passenger train pulled by the Ruhrthaler diesel locomotive type GZ 22 could consist of a maximum of 6 foreign cars.


Figure 42: Ruhrthal diesel locomotive, group of visitors, Empress Maria Theresia Stollen, around 1974, Kranabitl archive


Figure 43: Ruhrthal diesel locomotive, group of visitors, Empress Maria Theresia Stollen, around 1955, Archive Salinen Austria


Figure 44: Ruhrthal diesel locomotive, group of visitors, Empress Maria Theresia Stollen, around 1980, Herbert Fritz archive

In 1982, a Jenbacher DH 40 G diesel locomotive with 40 hp was purchased to replace the Ruhrthaler locomotive. The new diesel locomotive could carry up to 7 cars per train.


Figure 45: Jenbacher diesel locomotive DH 40 G, type plan, 1982, Herbert Fritz archive

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Figure 46: Jenbacher diesel locomotive, entrance to Empress Maria Theresia Stollen, 1990, Herbert Fritz archive


Figure 47: Ruhrthaler and Jenbacher diesel locomotive, Empress Maria Theresia Stollen, 1990, Herbert Fritz archive


Figure 48: Jenbacher diesel locomotive, foreigners entering, Empress Maria Theresia tunnel, around 1990, Kranabitl archive


Figure 49: Jenbacher diesel locomotive, last journey by the mine staff from Perneck, 1989, Nussbaumer archives

The Ruhrthaler diesel locomotive was parked after the show mine operation at the Salzberg Bad Ischl was closed in 2000. In 2009 it was available for purchase from Erich Ramsauer. After a thorough renovation, the fully functional locomotive was set up with a foreign wagon in Erich Ramsauer's garden. It can be viewed at point 25 of the Via Salis circuit.


Figure 50: Ruhrthaler diesel locomotive with foreign cars, showroom 25 Via Salis Rundweg, IGM archive

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

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

Robert Stibich "Mine Hunt and Knappenross", Brixlegg, 2011

August Huysen "Salt Mining and Saline Operation in Austria, Styria and Salzburg", Berlin 1854

Anton Schauenstein, "Denkbuch des Österreichischen Berg- und Hüttenwesen", Vienna 1873

Herbert Fritz "Salt mines in the Salzkammergut and their mine railways", Vienna 2015  

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