The “Tauerngold”, a special precious metal surrounded by many myths, sagas and much speculation today as in times past. Myths aside, what is sure is that already several hundred years before Christ, precious metals were searched for in the Hohe Tauern. Various finds and lore attest to this today. But as life for gold seekers in the Hohe Tauern was very arduous and dangerous and the search simply became unprofitable, the goldrush eventually came to an end …
A 6000-year old iconic site at Danielsberg attests to gold, silver and iron having been dug for already around 500 BC on this 960 m high mountain. The mountain must have wanted us to know about this, seeing that it kept revealing tools made of stone time and again. The history of Mölltal Valley is closely linked with mining well into the 18th century, experts even agree that the Illyrian Veneti already looked for iron in the Tauern region around 1000 BC.
Gold, silver and iron around 1480
The oldest still existing mine register in Obervellach clearly documents that silver mines existed around 1480 in the “Teuchl”. The Teuchl is a tributary valley in the municipality of Reisseck, which today is known mainly for scenic hikes. At the time of mining, this undertaking as it is written “involved considerable difficulties” due to the alpine location. A nice way of paraphrasing the hardships the miners faced in this inhospitable region.
The arduous life of the miners
The life of the miners was by no means easy. Because the Mölltal ore mines, silver and goldmines were mostly located in the high mountains, the miners day-to-day life was an arduous one. Reaching and climbing down into the tunnels and mines was a difficult endeavour, especially in view of the heavy equipment that also had to be transported to the tunnels. To start the working week, the miners had to bring food for 6 tough working days with them up to mountain, and then worked for up to 12 hours a day underground.
Success didn’t last long
Despite the considerable effort, up to 80 mines were on record in the area of the Teuchl in 1535. But this does not hide the fact that mining had no great future in the region. Because of the effort and the resulting lack of profitability, mining in the Teuchl took a downturn from 1600, or rather, it was mainly relocated to the mining district of Steinfeld in upper Drautal Valley. House ruins, so-called stockpiles or tips can still be seen today in the Teuchl and attest to this turbulent time.
If you, too, are interested in the exciting era of gold-seeking in the Hohe Tauern and like to hunt after ancient myths and sagas, then you should travel to Obervellach-Reisseck and go on the search for information, answers and lore in the Nationalpark-exhibition.
In the era of mining precious metals, the current town hall was the residence of the Schlaminger mining family who were among the most important mine operators in the Mölltal valley.
When gold mining began to yield less and less profit during the second half of the 16th century, numerous mines experienced substantial financial difficulties. In order to generate the funds for social spending, the Bruderlade was created in 1537 and every miner had to pay one Kreuzer for ever Gulder generated each month as a contribution. The Bruderlade was a precursor to our current social security system.
St. Martin Parish Church – Jan van Scorel Altar
St. Martin Parish Church was built in around 1500 and is one of the most beautiful and best-known sacred buildings in the country. The most magnificent and admired work of art in St. Martin Parish Church near Obervellach is the triptych by the 25-year old painter Jan van Scorel from Schoorl near Alkmaar, which he was commissioned by the Lang von Wellenburg-Frangipani donor family to create at Falkenstein Castle in 1519 and 1520. This takes the form of three panel paintings integrated in a Baroque altar.