Exhibition WassErleben

According to its original purpose, the shaft was sunk to cope with the water masses flowing underground. It soon became apparent that material also had to be extracted via this new shaft. So its technical equipment changed, and very early on it began to use water as a driving medium – no other resources were available in the mining district.

At the point of the Drei-Brüder-Schacht, this resulted in an energetically interesting constellation, because after reaching the bottom of the Rothschönberger Stolln at a depth of 272 m, an enormous head was available. Previously only technically usable in cascades, from water wheel to water wheel, new possibilities opened up, especially during the period of the decline of Freiberg mining around 1910: Turbines could now use large heads in one go, so the water rushed through these machines at high pressure. Parallel to the development of turbine technology, the technical revolution of electrification took place with the possibility of converting mechanical energy from the turbine into electrical energy in the generator. The huge advantage of this main energy source – its uncomplicated transportability – made the entire industry switch to it. All areas of life were affected. It is hard to imagine that it would work “without electricity” from where we stand today…

Due to its location-related historical development, the Three Brothers Shaft immediately took on a special position in the mining area when the cavern power plant was commissioned. Today, however, this engineering masterpiece is not only considered a technical monument. The use of renewable energy sources is the future. To be able to replace fossil fuels, it takes inventiveness and courage. So this technical monument can provide food for thought time and time again, and hopefully one day even “clean electricity from the depths” again.

The situation of being able to provide both retrospectives on the development of the energy industry in the mining area and perspectives for the use of hydropower at the Drei-Brüder-Schacht prompted the association, the German Federal Foundation for the Environment, the Saxon State Ministry for the Environment and Agriculture and, last but not least, important partners in the region to establish an information centre at this site. Ceremoniously opened in 2008, this environmental exhibition has since taken on a special role in the context of all the monuments in the Ore mountains mining region.

Here the visitor receives primarily information on the use of energy resources in mining – in a former shaft, a former power station, in a unique ambience. The information centre has been didactically set up so that primary and secondary school pupils and their teachers can find an extracurricular place of learning here. The content of STEM lessons can be put into practice here. And perhaps a visit will provide the final impetus to decide on a technical profession.

Here, visitors can experience the centuries-long exploitation of the energy resource “water”. Originally preserved machine tools are set in motion via a transmission – thanks to electrical energy. With each turn of the drum of the old hoisting machine, you lower your gaze into the cavern of the power station and, opposite the switchgear, you sense what an outstanding moment the commissioning of this power station on 24 December 1914 was for the entire region. Let time pass you by and also see what challenges our young people have to face. You are cordially invited …