The Oberharzer Wasserregal

Lately, I absolutely enjoy it to Discover Teiche around Clausthal in the Oberharz. There are a lot of them, and most are actually very beautiful. Especially with all the Snow.

But most, if not all of those Teiche are actually Manmade. And they were all built for a Reason.

The Ziegenberger Teich. | ca. 1645

Back in the Day, there where a lot of Ore Mines in the Oberharz. Miners used to dig up Lead, Silver, Copper and Zinc. Those Mines changed the Face of the Harz forever.

Large Spruce Monocultures were planted to gather Wood for Buildings and Mineshafts. But just Wood was not enough.

All those Mines also needed Power for Ore Processing and the Fahrkünste, and early Form of Elevators.

At the Prinzenteich. | 1686

But off Course, just using running Water would not have been enough. There are always highs and lows when it comes to Availability. That is where all the Teiche and Gräben in the Oberharz come into Play. Most where built between the 16th and 18th Centuries.

The Teiche were built to Store massive Amounts of liquid Power, and the Gräben were needed to distribute that Water to where it was needed.

Since most Mines in the Harz closed down in the 1930ies, and the last ones closing in 1992, the Oberharzer Wasserregal lost its Significance. Nowadays, a lot of those Teiche still exist, while a few are still used for Drinking Water and Flood Prevention.

The Nassenwieser Teich. | ca. 1671

Because of that massive Cultural Significance and Historical Uniqueness, the Oberharzer Wasserregal was integrated into the Rammelsberg World Heritage Site in 2010.

Because of the isolated Nature of the System, the artificial Teiche have actually developed rare Ecosystems. The European Crayfish, while going extinct in most European Waters, survived and actually thrives here in the Oberharz.

There are also rare Plants growing in and at the Teiche. Since those actually need the changing Water-Levels that came due to the Mines, those Changes are still maintained today.

The Wasserläufer Teich. | ca. 1659

Most of the Teiche of the Oberharzer Wasserregal are concentrated around Clausthal-Zellerfeld, Buntenbock and Hahnenklee.

But there are also some outliers like the Oderteich near Torfhaus and the Wiesenbeker Teich in Bad Lauterberg.

While I have at least been at about 50-60% of the Teiche around Clausthal, there are still a lot more to be Discovered. Like the Eulenspiegler Teich. Or the Eschenbacher Teiche. And that is going to be a lot of Fun.

The Kiefhölzer Teich. | ca. 1671

The Harz has a lot of visible Heritage, and I really do love that. Off Course all those Mines are Underground and most are permanently sealed, but there are also a lot of Museums, like at the Rammelsberg or in Lautenthal.

One Time, I was able to visit a normally closed off Mineshaft at the Rammelsberg, and that was really awesome.

Exploring that Mining Heritage is a lot of Fun. It also helps me to really Connect with the Harz. And that definitely is a good Thing.

The Oderteich. | 1715-1721

Once, the Oberharzer Wasserregal was built to supply the thriving Mining Industry in the Area with liquid Power. Nowadays, since there are no more active Ore Mines in the Harz, the Teiche and Gräben serve other Purposes.

Some are used for Drinking Water and Flood Protection, while others just serve as Landscaped Monuments and unique Biotopes as part of a sprawling UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Only one Thing is Certain though: The Oberharzer Wasserregal is extremely Fascinating and also extremely Beautiful. And I can not imagine the Harz without it.

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