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03 The Emperor Leopold – tunnel


Stud Name:             "Emperor Leopold - Stollen"

                                    Emperor Leopold II (son of Maria Theresa), reigned 1790 - 1792

Struck:            May 1, 1794 - together with "Unteren Kaiser Franz - Stollen"

Length:                          1,800m

Altitude:                     643 m

The Emperor Leopold Stollen was built together with the Lower Emperor Franz Stollen on  Struck May 1, 1794.

Around 1800, the Kaiser Leopold tunnel had only been extended to 100 bars (119.5 m).

In 1815, the Ischl mountain jury member Michael Kefer submitted a plan to the Salt Office to make the Kaiser Leopold tunnel dispensable by installing elevator machines and to stop driving it. In return, Kefer wanted the Lower Emperor Franz Stollen to continue to operate vigorously.

This would have created the first blind horizon in the Kammergut. The Court Chamber, however, did not respond to the suggestion because it saw no advantage. The operation would become very difficult and the cleaning up would become more cumbersome and expensive. The Kaiser Leopold tunnel was to be driven further in the opposite building, but with lower ascents in order not to lose any of the usable mountain thickness.

Until 1850 neither the Emperor Leopold reached Stollen nor the  Lower Kaiser Franz tunnel also only the salt limit.

The work in the dense and hard limestone of the Leopold tunnel caused great difficulties for the workers, the field site only advanced by 1 ½ bar (1.8m) in four weeks, the yearly advance was therefore limited to an average of 18 bar (21.5m) for a long time.

In 1827, the court chamber complained about the little progress, in ten years only 171 rods (204.3m) had been advanced. It would therefore take a good 30 years to reach the salt dome, which is still 541 Stabel (646.5m) away. In order to speed up the advance, both the counter and the forward construction with two passes should now be initiated from the Pohl - Schurf.

A water inrush in 1832 delayed the advance of the main town and prompted the mining administration to temporarily stop the counter building. In 1834, however, all places were in operation again. It was hoped that with the increased workforce, the Leopold tunnel could be completed in eight years up to the Wokurka dig and in another 15 years to the Pohl dig. A water drum set up at the Dicklberger - Schurf was used to ventilate the tunnel.

In 1842, according to the program, the breakthrough from Dicklberger to Wokurka dig took place. Five years later, in the 840th fathom (1,592.6m) of the main tunnel, the huts came across the sulfur springs from the Maria Theresia tunnel.

The Kaiser Leopold tunnel was driven to a height of 2.2 m and a width of 1.15 m; This resulted in a cross-sectional area of around 2.5 m². Its gradient was around 2.2%.

The Kaiser Leopold tunnel led 1800 m through a deaf medium until it reached the Hasel Mountains. The tunnel was initially driven in a purely N-S direction, and then later turned towards the NNW-SSE towards the salt boundary.                     


In 1850 the Mining Directorate approved the driving of the Lobkowitz bend in the dead end of the Kaiser Leopold tunnel. From the Lobkowitz-Kehr, the alignment of the salt storage should be carried out by transverse parallels in a southerly direction towards the hanging wall.

In the years 1874 – 1875, the Dunajewski exploratory shaft was sunk from the Rosenfeld bend in the Leopold tunnel to a depth of 94 m and another borehole was drilled from the base of the shaft, which got stuck at a depth of 160 m in the Hasel Mountains. This proved the extension of the Perneck salt storage towards the depths.

In 1895, the Kaiser Franz Josef heritage tunnel was dug near Sulzbach, not far from Lauffen, in order to capture the deeper parts of the salt mine.

In addition, the Freiherr von Distler shaft was sunk 180 m deep from the Kaiser Leopold tunnel as the deepest horizon of Perneck.

In the years 1957 to 1960 the central shaft from the Maria Theresia - tunnel to the Franz Josef - Erbstollen with a height of 203.8m was sunk by our own staff.


In 1964, the central shaft in the limestone replaced the Freiherr von Distler shaft built between the Leopold tunnel and the level of the Franz Josef Erbstollen. The Distler shaft, which was excavated in the Hasel Mountains, required an excessive amount of maintenance work.

In 1923, the salt mines on the Radgrabenbach not far from the Maria Theresia tunnel converted a dam for a small power station. The dam was originally used for a water wheel to drive the blacksmith's hammer in the Maria Theresia tunnel.

A pressure pipeline DN 120 mm was laid from this dam to the mouth of the Kaiser Leopold tunnel. This had a length of 250 m with a gradient of  45 m.

The hydromotor device consisted of a Pelton turbine with two inlet nozzles and a water consumption of 13 to 15 l/s. The turbine was made by the Josef Oser company, Krems, and had an output of 6.5 hp. The driven DC generator supplied a voltage of 220 V with an output of around 4 kW.

According to the Wasserbuch, the system was used to illuminate the saline buildings and the salt mines. This small power plant was closed after the Second World War and the Salzberg was supplied with electrical energy via the Kaiser Franz Josef - Erbstollen from Lauffen's own power plant.

In 1954 there were several major factory failures in the Kaiser Leopold tunnel. Brine had drained into the Sulzbach and destroyed the fish population.


From the 1920s, the Leopold tunnel was used as an exit route for visitors. As a result, the attractive slide of the Pohl - Schurfes, which leads from the Maria Theresia - into the Leopold - tunnel, could be installed in the guideway.      From about 1953, after the tunnel was demolished and the Ruhrthal mine locomotive G22 Z was put into service, crew hoists were again driven out of the Maria Theresia tunnel.

From 1957 all the leaching works of the Pernecker tunnels, which lay above the horizon of the Leopold tunnel, were used up and the brine produced in the lower horizons has since been released via the central or Distler shaft and the Franz Josef Erbstollen. As a result, in 1957 the brine pipelines in the Leopold tunnel and subsequently also the entire Pernecker Strehn including the brine rooms could be closed.

In September 1978, February 1980 and March 1981, about 130,000 m³ fell from the Zwerchwand - SW - side of the 120 m high rock face, whereby the boulders of Tressensteinkalk, up to the size of a house, flowed down the valley on the Haselgebirge and marl. These landslides can be linked to leachate collapses in the Ischler Salzberg, especially in the horizon of the Leopold tunnel.


Leopold Stollen – weirs around 1966:    

21 weirs (18 weirs in operation around 1966, 2 weirs under construction)

Mayerhofer (XIX) - weir (under construction), Vogl (XX) - weir (under construction around 1966),                       Schauberger (XVIII) - weir (under construction), Ressel - weir, Rotter - weir, Münzer (XIV) - weir, Mayerhoffer (XIII) -  Weir, Krenn - weir, Griessenböck - weir, Backhaus - weir,         Balzberg - weir, Janiss - weir, Pickl - weir, Sorgo - weir, Posanner - weir,               Kirnbauer - weir, Haupolter - weir, Schraml - weir, Bretschneider - weir, Krempl - and Birnbacher - weir (cut).

In 1983 the desolate tunnel building was demolished, a concrete retaining wall was erected to protect the slope and the pink limestone ashlar portal was restored. Additional parking areas were created on the tunnel forecourt for visitors to use.

At present there is a firing channel in the Kaiser Leopold tunnel that is used privately by the Rieger "Ischler Waffen" company. For this purpose, the tunnel was closed after 100 m and the entrance area was blocked off with a massive steel door.

Not far from the Leopold tunnel in the area of the parking lot and the garages you can still find iron slag, which probably comes from a smelting works operated in the 16th century, in which the ores extracted from the Rainfalz were smelted.


In order to save time-consuming and long tunnel driving from above ground, 2 underground mines were created below the Leopold tunnel. These underground works can only be reached via the two pits (Distler and Central pit) and via several pits (sloping pits with stairs) from the Leopold and Erbstollen level.

Originally it was planned to create a total of 6 civil engineering sections, each 30 m thick, in the 180 m high mountain center between the Erbstollen and Leopold levels.

I. Civil engineering:

After completion of the Dister shaft in 1895, the preparatory work for the exposure of the first blind horizon at the Ischler Salzberg could begin.

Starting in 1904, starting from the Distler shaft 30 m below the Leopold level, the drivage for the first civil engineering began.

The first civil engineering served to derive the brine from the workers laid out in the Leopold horizon. In addition, a total of 13 plants were built in the first civil engineering.

In December 1944, Plant XII, the so-called Ebensee plant, was released for the storage of works of art in the first civil engineering works. The plant had a storage area of 1100 m² and a capacity of 2700 m³.

A trench leading from the first to the second civil engineering was buried in 1945 so that nobody could reach the storage uninvited.

In the 1950s, a place of honor was created for the fallen salt miners in the Pernecker Salzberg. In the first civil engineering works, a leaching plant was baptized as a “heroic work” to commemorate the fallen. A plaque with the names of the im       2nd World War remaining work comrades attached.

However, since the route had to be closed in the 1980s, the plaque was moved to the mountain chapel on the Salzberg.

I. Civil Engineering - Weirs around 1983:

13 weirs

Lepez - weir, Köck - weir, Grundmüller - weir, Krieger - weir, Rettenbacher - weir, Heldenwerk, Gmunder - weir, Lauffen - weir, Ebensee - weir, plant 6, Hampl - weir, plant 8, Mock - weir, Mitterauer - weir.


II. Civil engineering:

Starting in 1934, starting from the Distler shaft 37 m below the 1st underground construction and 67 m below the Leopold level, the roadway drivage for the 2nd underground construction began.

In the area of the Distler shaft, a spacious, two-track filling point, the so-called "Bahnhof", was driven up. The Häuerberge was excavated via the Distler shaft and the Franz Josef Erbstollen to an above-ground heap.


If you climbed out of the conveyor shell of the Distler shaft in the II. civil engineering, you first arrived at the "filling point", a room that measured about 8 by 4 m and was used for loading and unloading the elevator. From there, the "Bahnhof" branched off diagonally to the right, equipped with 2 tracks for moving the mine railway, which was also built for this mining horizon and was therefore wider than the other tunnels in the mountain.


II. Civil Engineering - Weirs around 1983:   


6 depth workers (putten) and 3 borehole probes

Pütte 2, Pütte 3, Pütte 4, Pütte 6, Vogl - Pütte, Pütte 9, boreholes 1/II, 2/II and 3/II

In 1989, extensive construction and device work was carried out in II. Civil Engineering for underground brine extraction. Boreholes 4/II – 6/II were drilled.

At the time brine production was stopped in 2010, Pütte 4/II was being used as a spillway for Häuerberge and Pütte 6/II was being used to extract bath mud.


Sources used:

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

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

Leopold Schiendorfer "Perneck - A Village Through the Ages", Linz 2006

Walter Medwenitsch "The geology of the salt deposits Bad Ischl and Altaussee", communications from the Geological Society, 50th vol. 1957, Vienna 1957

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