Thursday’s Special: Traces of the Past 03: The Gradation House at Bad Dürkheim

© irene waters 2015

© irene waters 2015

I’m sure we’ve all heard tales of the salt mines in Russia. Part of my husband’s youth was sliding on a hessian sack into the salt mines in Austria. The Gradation houses were a way of getting salt that I had never heard of until a visit to Bad Dürkheim, a city in the Rhein area of Germany.These gradation houses were used to produce table salt out of natural brine, in this case from the Maxquelle Spring. This is the only one of 5 gradation houses still in existence in this part of Germany.

© irene waters 2015

© irene waters 2015

The water was pumped by a myriad of pipes to the top of the house(16 metres) and trickled down over bundles of blackthorn brushwood (200 cubic metres larchwood and 1000 cubic metres spruce and firwood). The water was collected at the bottom and pumped up again. This procedure was repeated several times until there was a high salt content (you can see the white presence of salt in the photo). The remaining water was then collected and heated, evaporating off the water until only salt remained in the pan.

© irene waters 2015

© irene waters 2015

Looking along the roof, a span of 330 metres. This building was build in 1847  towards the end of the period where salt was obtained in this manner. It closed down for a short time in 1867 until someone realised the health benefits of breathing in of the large amounts of minerals in the form of microscopically fine drops, like inhaling an aerosol.The saltern was reopened for these benefits.

© irene waters 2015

© irene waters 2015

Walking along the walkways or sitting on the seats set on it for the purpose one can gain these health benefits and drink in the surrounding countryside at the same time.

© irene waters 2015

© irene waters 2015

A health industry has blossomed in the town as a result. I peered in through the windows at the spa pools but I didn’t partake. The saltern was a trace of the past that I previously had known nothing about.

In response to Paula’s prompt

About Irene Waters 19 Writer Memoirist

I began my working career as a reluctant potato peeler whilst waiting to commence my training as a student nurse. On completion I worked mainly in intensive care/coronary care; finishing my hospital career as clinical nurse educator in intensive care. A life changing period as a resort owner/manager on the island of Tanna in Vanuatu was followed by recovery time as a farmer at Bucca Wauka. Having discovered I was no farmer and vowing never again to own an animal bigger than myself I took on the Barrington General Store. Here we also ran a five star restaurant. Working the shop of a day 7am - 6pm followed by the restaurant until late was surprisingly more stressful than Tanna. On the sale we decided to retire and renovate our house with the help of a builder friend. Now believing we knew everything about building we set to constructing our own house. Just finished a coal mine decided to set up in our backyard. Definitely time to retire we moved to Queensland. I had been writing a manuscript for some time. In the desire to complete this I enrolled in a post grad certificate in creative Industries which I completed 2013. Commenced a masters by research in 2014.
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18 Responses to Thursday’s Special: Traces of the Past 03: The Gradation House at Bad Dürkheim

  1. Paula says:

    Just yesterday I was Googling a salt cave in my town and here you are with a super interesting salt spa from Bad Durkheim. Your photos give me a great perception of the size of the place. Excellent captures! Thank you again, Irene.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Pingback: Thursday’s Special: Traces of the Past 03 | Lost in Translation

  3. pommepal says:

    What a laborious procedure. Interesting photos

    Liked by 1 person

  4. noelleg44 says:

    Fascinating, Irene, I had no idea how salt was made – other than native American putting salt water out on skins to dry.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. bkpyett says:

    Interesting buildings, Irene. It looks as if the upper part is made from straw bales. I didn’t realise these were used back then!

    Like

  6. Jaspa says:

    Fantastic! Back in the ’80s Rich used to live near Bad Rothenfelde, which has a similar structure.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. A saltern! Your blog exposes me to so much of the world about which i know nothing – thanks for all the enlightenment. I really thought salt came from the grocery in a blue box. Hee hee hee

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Charli Mills says:

    How fascinating. I didn’t know about this process or health spa benefit.

    Liked by 1 person

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