The particular geological evolution of the Alps, namely the buckling or folding of the rock and the subsequent Ice Ages, resulted in the formation of coal seams at the northern perimeter of the Alpine range. The Upper Bavarian countryside is mainly rural but there are a number of towns in which coal-mining was a viable industry. One of them is Penzberg, where from 1796 to 1966 pitch coal was mined: the deepest of several shafts extended 640 metres into the ground.
When the colliery closed the former mineworkers built their own museum in order not to let the memory of their lives down the pit fade into oblivion and there they displayed their tools, documents and photos. Penzberg which had become a town solely as a result of coal-mining since workers were drawn from far away to make a living at the colliery has now taken over the running of the museum and redesigned and modernized it to make it attractive to a wide range of visitors.
Galleries, authentically reconstructed by the former miners, are the highlight of the museum. Together with heavy machinery, coal trucks and a pithead lift, they paint a realistic picture of mining. The development of the industry from a miner’s hacking coal by hand to a fully mechanized operation can be studied during a tour of the museum.
The collection boasts a host of original objects including Davy (pit) lamps, survey equipment and plans as well as fossils and rock samples. Photos, models, a fascinating film documentary of 1928, an amusing cartoon on the formation and exploitation of coal and a number of multimedia points all illustrate daily life at the colliery.