The tower in the forest

The tower in the forest | © Ralf Kaupenjohann

There it still stands. The chimney base of the former "Gewerkschaft Victoria" colliery, erected in 1890. Most people who pass it on the hiking trail have no idea that they are encountering an early example of the coal industry here.

The base was once topped by a brick chimney, estimated to be about 45 metres high. It was probably connected to the colliery's boiler house or served as a weather stack. In other words, it made dirt that was blown unfiltered into the air or ensured that the shaft system was ventilated with fresh air, i.e. with "good weather" as it is called in mining terms, with the suction of a fire lit inside.

Either the electrification of the colliery industry at the beginning of the 20th century made this technology superfluous because "good weather" could now be produced with an electric fan, or the relocation of the shaft system closer to the Deilbach valley and the dismantling of the previous hoisting equipment sealed the end of the structures at this site. In 1915 the "Gewerkschaft Victoria" submitted plans to the authorities to convert the existing colliery buildings into flats and stables for the miners and their families. The chimney had certainly been demolished by this time, otherwise it would probably have collapsed.

Living in the small colliery settlement was certainly not very comfortable: outhouse toilets outside, running water sometimes only in one place in the house, poor insulation of the houses. In winter it was cold and uncomfortable. But for the children living here it was a paradise. Toboggan slopes in winter, the nearby forest as an adventure playground, "gang wars" with those down the street, mysterious places and winding paths.

But those who lived here were not among the winners. Some wanted to leave and occasionally only the housing shortage made people stay. But in 1970, the last house was cleared and everything was razed to the ground.

Today, almost nothing reminds us of this piece of industrial and social history. Three artists from the Ruhr region have created a new project called "Der Turm im Wald. How a colliery gave rise to a homeland and how it disappeared again", which could be heard inside the tower in the summer of 2021 and can now be found on the tower's website (see below). In this way, the lives of the people, their worries and joys, came and still come to light a little bit at a time. Finally, say some former residents.

Current information on the page

To get to the tower, follow the hiking trail of the Sauerland Mountain Association from the "Dattenberg" entrance, which is marked with a white K in a circle on a black background.

address and contact

The tower in the forest

45257 Essen