Discover Local Geology
China clay (Kaolin), quartz and feldspar have been mined in the Hirschau – Schnaittenbach district since 1833. This led, in the course of the decades, to the development of vast open-cast pits and of an enormous heap of quartz sand which is popularly known as ‘Monte Kaolino’. Kaolin, or china clay, used to be required for making china. Nowadays, about 60% of the kaolin that is mined goes into paper production. The same raw materials are also found a few miles away in Bohemia. This is because of the geology of this region. Following the erosion of the ‘Moldanubikum’, the bedrock in this whole area, the material that had been broken down into its mineral components was deposited in basins in which kaolin formed – the pre-condition for a flourishing china industry in the Upper Palatinate, Upper Franconia and Bohemia. Visitors are introduced to the Kaolin Mine Industrial Trail by ‘Talking Granite Blocks’ that speak German, Czech and English. All the information along the trail is provided in these three languages.
Discover a Changing Landscape
Mining is changing the landscape. You can see this for yourself as you walk round the six-kilometre circular route. At the 12 InfoPoints, you will find not only information boards but also displays of kaolin-based products, pillars with all sorts of information on them, and interactive games. While ‘discovering a changing landscape’, you will also find out how nature is reacting to the mining activities and how the kaolin pits will ultimately be re-cultivated. What is happening to the water on and under the surface? Will the site of the mine one day become a landscape with lots of lakes? The same questions are being asked in the Czech mining districts across the border. The industrial trail with its multilingual exhibits is particularly suitable for teaching school groups from Bavaria and the Czech Republic about the development of their native region – and pupils can learn about these things in an enjoyable and fascinating context.
Discover local wildlife and woodland crafts
Animals and plants have also adapted to the world of mining: new biotopes have established themselves. For instance, species like the natterjack toad that are otherwise rarely found in southern Germany have formed colonies near the nature trail. The loud croaking noises they make can be heard from far away and will perhaps remind visitors more of the tropics than of Eastern Bavaria! At one InfoPoint, the old woodland crafts are brought to life again – there’s a display showing how honey was collected from wild bees as well as a charcoal-burner’s kiln, both of which show how people used to make a living from the forests.
Discover Nature – Technology – Art
The Kaolin Mining District GeoPark is regularly the setting for cultural events. The enormous flat white surfaces that are created when kaolin is mined are ideal for shows using lights, and also as a background for concerts and exhibitions of sculpture on Monte Kaolino. Here, in particular, the unique natural setting makes it possible to stage unusual artistic and cultural events involving artists from both Bavaria and the Czech Republic.
Since the industrial trail follows a circular route, it’s possible to begin a visit either at the Monte Kaolino Leisure Park at Hirschau or at Schnaittenbach. Visitors should allow about two hours for walking around the trail.