The beginning of salt mining in Berchtesgaden
The chronicle of salt mining in Berchtesgaden goes back to the 12th century. In 1193, salt mining starts on the Tuval near Schellenberg. In 1194, salt mining is mentioned on the Gollnbach in Berchtesgaden.
Founding of the current Salt Mine
In 1517, the Petersberg gallery is struck, and the Salt Mine Berchtesgaden was founded by Prince-Provost Gregor Rainer. The brine created here is initially channelled to the Schellenberg Salt Works. In 1564, the Frauenreuth Salt Works initiates operations in Berchtesgaden.
A Bavarian political issue
Berchtesgaden remains an independent Prince-Provostry until 1803. By means of the Final Act of the Vienna Congress on 9 June 1815 and the Munich Agreement of 1816, it finally falls to Bavaria. Salt mining and salt works are integrated into the Königliche General-Bergwerks- und Salinenadministration (Royal General Mine and Salt Refinery Administration) in Munich.
Reichenbach builds the brine pipeline to Bad Reichenhall
In 1816, the Royal Bavarian Salt Refinery Council, Georg von Reichenbach, receives the commission from King Max 1st and his minister, Count Montgelas, to plan and build the brine pipeline from Berchtesgaden to Bad Reichenhall. As early as 22 December 1817, the first Berchtesgaden brine was already flowing in the wooden “deicheln” (wooden pipes) to Bad Reichenhall.
The brilliant designer overcame 29 km of length and significant differences in altitude with water column lifting machines. This machine – the Reichenbach Pump – is regarded as an ingenious design for its time and pumps the brine 356 metres uphill at Ilsank. This brine pipeline remains in constant operation until 19 February 1927 – a master feat, which still does just as much credit to the inventor now, as it did then.
Today, one of the 14-ton bronze pumps can be seen in the Salt Mine, while others are in the Old Salt Works in Bad Reichenhall and in the Deutsches Museum in Munich. The course of the brine pipeline can be followed on the beautiful hiking path from Berchtesgaden to Ramsau.