The 19-Lachter-Stollen was one of the most important installations of the historic silver mining in the Upper Harz. It was a water drainage gallery which allowed the water to flow out of the mines higher up. For centuries, it was essential for the operation of many of the mines in the Zellerfeld and Clausthal mining areas.
The construction of the gallery began in the year 1551. But it was only in 1690 after an extraordinary amount of hard work with hammers and chisels that it reached its destination at a length of 8.8 km.
Around 500 m of the gallery has been made accessible for visitors. Various supports and wall constructions of iron, wood and block work can be seen. Further into the mountain, the gallery is cut out of solid greywacke stone.
Throughout its active life, ore was also accessed and mined from the gallery. In 1845, the Ernst August Shaft was sunk from the gallery to a total depth of 261 metres. It is an outstanding example of a so-called "blind shaft" that has been preserved.
Standing on a steel bridge, visitors can watch a stream of water falling into the yawning depths.
The miners needed 15 years to reach the level of the deepest water drainage gallery in the Harz, the Ernst August Stollen. The last section of this gallery was finished from here in 1864 and at that time, with its length of 32.7 km, it was the longest tunnel in the world.
The route through the 19-Lachter-Stollen passes an underground wheel chamber containing the impressive remains of a bi-directional water wheel that is more than 100 years old and has a diameter of 9 m and a width of 2 m.
The route continues down some stairs until 100 m below the surface the mono-directional water wheel chamber is reached, which was later converted into a turbine and compressor room. Here, a unique machine ensemble from 1914 can be seen in operational condition.
On the way back, visitors can then view the new machine room with the electric hoisting machine that was installed in 1914. This was in use until the end of operations in the year 1924.
The visitor mine with the 19-Lachter-Stollen (drainage gallery), the 19-Lachter-Adolph-Stollen (transport) and the Ernst August Mine provides a unique impression of three eras of mining in the Upper Harz and the associated machines, and thus over a time period from 1551 to 1924.