St Nicolas Mine - History and Facts | History Hit

St Nicolas Mine

Steinbach, Grand Est, France

The St Nicholas Mine was once the most productive silver and lead mine in the French commune of Steinbach.

Peta Stamper

19 Jul 2021
Image Credit: Trip / Francis F

About St Nicolas Mine

The St Nicholas Mine (La Mine St-Nicholas) was once the most productive mine in Steinbach, France. Steinbach has a long mining history dating back to the Roman period. This activity began to grow from the 15th century and, by the mid-16th century, St Nicholas Mine was at its peak.

St Nicholas Mine history

At this time, the St Nicholas Mine was generating high quantities of top quality silver-lead ore, making it one of the most important mines in the area. The mine’s level of productivity rose to a high between 1612 and 1633. However, the outbreak of the Thirty Years War in 1618 marked difficult times for the region, with the Swedish destroying much of Steinbach’s mining operation.

The fortunes of the St Nicholas Mine changed for the positive in 1659, when it was taken over and updated by the Mazarin. However, like other mines in the area, the St Nicholas Mine suffered during the 18th century, especially during the French Revolution.

The mine experienced resurgence under occupying Prussians in the 19th century, with yet more development of its facilities and mining activities resuming. Nevertheless, a flooding incident in 1902 marked the start of the demise of the St Nicholas Mine: it would close in 1904, with its miners moving to work at the newly opened potato mines nearby.

St Nicholas Mine today

Today, the fascinating remains of this mine are open to the public at weekends by tour as digging continues to find yet more pathways inside. A small English handbook helps to guide you around the mine, illuminated by spotlights.

Getting to St Nicholas Mine

The mine is best found via car: take the N66 from Mulhouse which is a half hour drive.

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