Weg zum Kaolin

Kaolintagebau Schleben/ Crellenhain, Foto: Kemmlitzer Kaolinwerke GmbH

Kaolintagebau Schleben/ Crellenhain, Foto: Kemmlitzer Kaolinwerke GmbH

Der Rundweg „Weg zum Kaolin“ in der Stadt Mügeln verknüpft die multimediale Erlebniswelt Kaolin im Geoportal Bahnhof Mügeln des Geoparks Porphyrland mit dem Aussichtspunkt in den Kaolintagebau. Unterwegs werden Sie über die Bergbau-, Industrie- und Kulturgeschichte der Stadt Mügeln informiert.

Streckenführung auf outdooractive.com

Infomation boards Kaolin Trail in Mügeln

The stove, porcelain and pottery factory Mügeln was founded here on October 15, 1894. Production began just one year later. The factory mostly manufactured stove tiles and, until 1945, ceramic wall tiles. The raw materials were obtained from the region: clay from Nerchau and Löthain, which was transported here by a narrow gauge railway. Kaolin was found close to here in Kemmlitz and in Kroptewitz. Until the 1940s the company operated its own kaolin pit near Poppitz.

The stove tiles manufactured in Mügeln were sold all over Germany. However it was the unparalleled whiteness and acid resistance of the ceramic tiles that met with global success. Porcelain goods were never produced here. With over 300 workers and employees, this company was one of the largest employers in the region. Since military hardware was produced here during WW2, the wall tile production was transferred to the Soviet Union as reparation.

In the early days the stove tiles were hand-made. The clay mass was pressed into moulds and formed using a pattern. Mechanised tile presses were introduced in 1949 and since the mid-1980s all tiles were now cast. After air drying, the tiles were twice fired at temperatures between 1000 and 1300°C. When the factory was built, 16 muffle or chamber kilns were constructed for this procedural step. These ran on coal gas produced in the factory itself. Natural gas fuelled tunnel kilns were introduced at the end of the 1960s. After the first firing the tiles were glazed. Historically the tiles were dipped but now the glaze is sprayed on.

The company was declared a state owned property in 1946. Under the new name VEB Keramik- und Ziegelwerke, the factory produced stove tiles for the GDR. The variety of forms and colours was greatly reduced. However, not so for export production. Some of these stove tiles were even decorated by hand. After the collapse of the GDR, the company was managed by the Treuhand (trust agency). Since the demand for stove tiles had dropped significantly, the number of employees had to be reduced. Despite of this, the company tried to survive in the market under the new name Mügelner Ofenkachelfabrik GmbH. In 1991 the company was taken over by Ruka (founded by Rube, Karl) Metallverarbeitung GmbH based in Plünderhausen/Baden-Württemberg. The company HAFNERTEC DE GmbH took over in 2018.

Text: Andreas Lobe, Heimatverein Mogelin

At the end of the 19th century, the pharmacist Heinrich Konrad from Mügeln had the idea of producing magnesia from the local limestone. Magnesium oxide or magnesia is a necessary additive in paper, paint, rubber production as well as in the pharmaceutical industry. Up to then the substance had been imported from Great Britain. The Plattendolomit from Schrebitz was found to be a suitable raw material for producing magnesia and could be easily transported here by the narrow gauge railway.

Heinrich Konrad found a sponsor from Leipzig for a chemical factory in Mügeln, which was to be named Lipsia. A public company was founded in 1898 and the factory was built one year later. Production started after a few teething troubles. The magnesia was pressed into cubes and sold to companies for further processing. The production residues were sold as lime fertilizer.

The company was disowned in 1946. In the GDR, the factory belonged to a number of state chemical combines until finally it became part of the “Chemiewerk Bad Köstritz“. The products from Mügeln were highly prized in the socialist economic area. The factory also produced special detergents for consumers in the GDR.

The eastern buyers of Lipsia-products fell away with unification. For a time, the workforce tried to keep production going as a limited company until the Treuhand (trust agency) took over. The company premises was split up. The largest part was taken over by the company Kluthe from Heidelberg-Wieblingen, who now recycle waste under the name of REMATEC Werk Mügeln. The remaining area has been divided among a number of small companies.

Text: Andreas Lobe, Heimatverein Mogelin

The Kemmlitz Kaolin mining district covers an area of about 40 km2 and is located north and south west of the town of Mügeln. The region is part of the natural area “Loess hills of Mügeln” with an elevation between 180 and 220 m above sea level. The surface is mostly covered with Pleistocene sediments: boulder clay and marl, sand and gravel, loess and weathered loess. These cover the 280 million year-old magmatic rocks of the Northwest Saxonian Volcanic Rock Complex.

Kaolin is an unconsolidated clay deposit formed by the chemical weathering of feldspar rich rocks (here: quartz porphyry) in the sub-tropical and tropical climate of the Tertiary period. During the process, the feldspars are dissolved and the alkaline ions and some of the silicate removed. In the presence of water, new clay minerals are formed, especially Kaolinite, a water containing aluminium silicate. The clay or actual raw material content of the exposed raw kaolin ranges from 20 to 40%.

Geology of the deposits
The kaolin deposits of the Kemmlitz Mining District are usually found in stretched or lenticular troughs that are surrounded by partially weathered quartz porphyr. The thickness of the individual deposits varies between 10 and 30 m and their length between 100 and 1500 m. Downwards, the kaolin merges into a several meter thick zone of weathered material followed by weathered and unweathered quartz porphyry. The kaolin is usually covered by 10 to 20 m of young pleistocene sediments.
The specific properties of the Kemmlitz kaolin makes it especially suited for fine ceramic products (porcelain, sanitary ceramics, tiles etc.). Because of its mineral composition the kaolin produces a pure white ceramic when burnt at 1400°C.

The World of Kaolin in the Geoportal Mügeln Train Station
You will find more information about kaolin mining, transport and uses in the multimedia show “World of Kaolin” in the Geoportal Mügeln Train Station (Bahnhofstrasse 2).

Text: G
ünter Schwerdtner (Heimatverein Mogelin) and Thomas Henkel (Kemmlitzer Kaolinwerke GmbH)

The discovery of the kaolin deposits around Kemmlitz is closely linked to the founding of the faience ware and pottery factory in Hubertusburg, (now Wermsdorf) in 1770. The search for suitable raw materials led to the discovery of kaolin near Pommlitz, where mining began in 1780. The kaolin deposits west of Kemmlitz were discovered in 1826 and mined for the factory in Hubertusburg until 1848.

The industrial scale extraction of kaolin in Kemmlitz began in 1883. Initiated by the land owners Riedel and Wolf kaolin production has since grown into the high-performance economic sector it is today.

In the first decades following 1883, kaolin was extracted in underground mines and brought to the surface in tunnels and shafts. The kaolin was mined manually using spades and picks in a procedure called retreat mining. The last underground mine, Grube Glückauf in Kemmlitz, was closed in 1974.

Today, kaolin is always extracted in open cast mines. The utilization of powerful technology to expose and extract the kaolin ensures higher productivity at lower cost.

Current kaolin production and processing
The open cast mine Schleben/Crellenhain was opened in 2004. Around 300,000 t of raw kaolin are produced here every year using modern extraction technologies with bucket-wheel excavators. The mine is managed according to the operating plan verified by the Upper Mining Authority.

The raw kaolin is transported on a conveyor-belt to the processing plant in Gröppendorf. The raw material must be treated to obtain the pure resource fraction.

The quartz sand is removed using hydro-mechanical procedures. As this step is repeated, the clay fraction becomes more concentrated, The pure kaolin sludge is then pumped through a pipeline to Kemmlitz for further treatment and drying.

Text: G
ünter Schwerdtner (Heimatverein Mogelin) and Thomas Henkel (Kemmlitzer Kaolinwerke GmbH)

Church history
This church is one of the oldest and largest medieval village churches in Saxony.

1135 first officially recorded, but the church is much older
1364 Margrave Friedrich III bequeathed the village Altmügeln including the church to the diocese in Meissen
1429/30heavily damaged during the Hussite raid
1487 – 1512rebuilt by bishop Johann VI. from Saalhausen in the Late Gothic style
1536 a fire started by lightning destroys the church completely
1539 having been rebuilt, the church was one of the last ones to be consecrated according to Catholic rites in Albertinian Saxony shortly before the Reformation
1835 extensive interior redecoration: removal and destruction of the splendid carved Maria altar and other valuable works of art – until 1856 St. Mary’s served as the main church for the town of Mügeln
1980sthe parish community, on their own initiative, were able to obtain substantial sponsors to rescue their church from certain dereliction.
2005 – 2008last reconstruction of the church. The wealth of the community was based on the ownership of large areas of fertile land.

Farmer-Epitaph, ecclesiastical treasure
The only known farmer epitaph in a church is dated to the period after St. Mary’s was rebuilt in 1536. The memorial on the church wall is dedicated to the farmer Paul Wagner, who donated the greatest part of his fortune for the rebuilding of the church.

Pilgrimages and Stoppelmarkt
Shortly after the holiday “the Feast of Mary” was introduced at the beginning of the 13th century, the church of Altmügeln received the privilege of hosting an annual 40-day sale of indulgences. This privilege was associated with a statue of Mary capable of performing miracles. Very soon a market for visiting pilgrims developed around the church. This market continued to grow until in 1483 it occupied the harvested fields around the church, where it became known as the “Stoppelmarkt“ (stubble market). During the heyday of the market around 1850, the merchandise was presented on nearly 780 stalls.

The pilgrimages ended with the introduction of the Reformation in Saxony around 1539. The Reformation was established in Mügeln 1541/42. The Stoppelmarkt on the “Feast of Mary” early in September was a popular event until 1977, attracting visitors from far beyond the region of Mügeln.

Illustrated ceiling
The illustrated ceiling was painted in 1720 by the artist Johannes Rossberg from Oschatz. The 42 pictures illustrate the New Testament.

Altar top made of Rochlitz quartz porphyry

The old altar top made from the Rochlitz quartz porphyry was unearthed during construction work for the new altar. The top was probably made when the church was first built around 1000 years ago.

Famous visitors

The painter Veit Schnorr from Carolsfeld (1764 to 1841) and the author Johann Gottfried Seume (1763 to 1810) visited the rectory in Altmügeln. Apparently, Seume wrote some of the passages of his work “Spaziergang nach Syrakus“ here.

Text: Andreas Lobe (Heimatverein Mogelin) and Frank Schirmer (Marienkirche Altmügeln)

Mügeln is first officially recorded in the chronicles of Thietmar von Merseburg in 984 AD. However, the entry does not refer to the town or the Castle Ruhethal, rather it concerns the castle of the Knight of Mogelin, located on the hill Festenberg close to the nearby village   of Baderitz. In 1063, Agnes the widow of the Emperor bequeathed her manor “Zu den goldenen Hufen“ to the diocese of Meissen. The bishops then built the town of Mügeln around this manor. By 1581, 33 bishops had ruled here. Mügeln was the economic and social centre of the so-called Mügelner Ländchen.

Castle Ruhethal
The premises of the manor also included a water castle as a base for a garrison. The bishops of Meissen gradually converted this into a comfortable country estate now known as Castle Ruhethal. The mighty round tower was built by bishop Nikolaus I in 1381. The large estate was developed by Bishop Johann V von Weissbach. Because Bishop Johann IX von Haugwitz had transferred his offices to the Prince Elector during the reformation, he received the castle and the town Mügeln as compensation in 1581. After his death in 1595 the parish and castle was again returned to the Prince Elector. Between 1667 and 1732 the castle was in private ownership again. During this time, between 1715 and 1727 the castle was converted and took on its present form. After nationalization in 1831 it became a royal domain. In addition to this, it also housed the district court until 1952. During the era of the GDR, it was designated a nationally owned property (VEG) housing an educational centre for agricultural professions. The VEG was dissolved in 1990 and the whole object has been privately owned since 2005.

Town church St. Johannis
This church was built by Bishop Heinrich I. of Meissen between 1232 and 1236. The work was entirely financed by profits gained from the episcopal lead and silver mine Scharfenstein near Meissen. The church was heavily damaged during the Hussite campaign 1429/30 and was completely rebuilt in the late Gothic style between 1487 and 1521 by Bishop Johann VI. The tower above the choir was destroyed by lightning in 1693. A new extension was added on the west side in 1710/11. The new tower was designed by the master builder Matthäus Daniel Pöppelmann (1662 – 1736). However, his design would have cost 1600 guilders, which proved to be too expensive for the community. The church was run as a subsidiary of St Mary’s church in Mügeln until 1856, when it became an independent parish church.

The church boasts several attractions, including the Gothic sacramental house and the epitaphs of the last bishop of Meissen Johann IX of Haugwitz (+ 1595) and the knight Melchior von Saalhausen (+ 1504). The epitaphs of Georg Dietrich von Wolframsdorf (+ 1696) and his wife Sophie (+ 1691) were carved by the brothers Süssner from Dresden, the leading creators of stucco marble works. The famous artistic wrought iron entrance gate from 1648 attracts visitors from beyond the region.

Figure 1   1628 oldest sketch by the surveyor Wilhelm Dilich
Figure 3:   Coat-of-arms of bishop Johann VI. v. Saalhausen
Figure 4:   Epitaph of bishop Johann IX. v. Haugwitz
Figure 5/6: Wrought iron gate
Figure 7:   Draft by Daniel Pöppelmann for the new tower construction, around 1710

Town hall
The bailiff house of the manor “Zu den goldenen Hufen“ was elevated to the status of town hall by bishop Johann III. von Kittlitz in 1395. Before then, the castle chaplain resided here.   A decorative gable and a tower were added to the building by bishop Johann VI. von Salhausen in 1500. However, the tower was destroyed in the town fire in 1718 and not rebuilt. The building was extended and a second gable added in 1882 and has since remained nearly unchanged. The extension was built in the neo-gothic style. When the building was repaired and reconstructed in 1934 and 1938, old elements were removed, so that there is very little historic substance left today.