Zemplínske Hámre Educational Trail

Connects all restored monuments and historically significant sights of Zemplínske Hámre founded at the foot of Vihorlat Hills – mining and processing of iron ore, charcoal production, timber transportation. Informs the visitors with the events associated with the development of settlement, presents the way of living in the past, interesting architectural elements of stone masonry houses preserved only here, sophisticated system of water channels built due to the beamhouses and many others.

Zemplínske Hámre Educational Trail has 14 stops, its length is 6,8 kilometres. It crosses the cycloroute No. 5884 (green sign) Snina narrow-gauge railway, the footroute No. 5712 (green sign) Snina – Zemplínske Hámre – Rovienky – Sninský kameň Rock. It is self-serviced, it can be completed by bike as well to the stop No. 13.


Zemplínske Hámre Educational Trail stops

1st stop: Stone masonry with corn-crib / Museum

Brick houses called masonries were built in the colony Josefsthal in the early 19th century because of the accommodation for workers and management ironworks. They were built for a different number of families and it also depended on the occupation or status of individual workers in ironworks.They were interesting for their unique technology solution of drainage of rainwater into the well in the cellar which is still functional and it was not recorded anywhere in Snina region. Just one masonry has been preserved up to this day in Zemplínske Hámre, built in the past close to the “industrial center” with the blast furnace and foundry. Since the mid-19th century it began to be used as a tavern rented by Matyas Wieszberger. The masonry with a corn-rib were reconstructed in 2014. Since 2015 serve as museum.

2nd stop: Former reservoir

At the entrance to the settlement Joseph´s Valley was built one of the five beamhouses which operated the longest. Because of ensuring sufficient water to obtain enough energy for smelting and ore dressing there was built water reservoir with dam – “tajch” (from the German word “Teich”). Its existence is documented by the cadastral maps from the years 1865 to 1866. Former bed of water reservoir is currently dry, used as private gardens and meadows. Until present the partially preserved embankment of water channel to the reservoir, best seen near Barnova stream.

3rd stop: Blast furnace

Blast furnace in Joseph´s Valley – in the central part of the settlement, on the slope of today´s street “Nad gichtou” – was built by a businessman Joseph Rholl in the early 19th century. The name “gichta” is the place where they put into the blast furnace iron ore. It survived in Zemplínske Hámre up to this day – it documents the German origin of the first inhabitants of the settlement (Joseph´s Valley – Josefsthal). Charcoal was used as fuel in the processing of iron ore. In 1852 the equipment had been adapted to steam power with performance achieved capacity of 20 horsepower. Between 1874–1888 Philip Eugen Sachsen-Gotha-Coburg, the second son of the Belgian King Leopold I, was the owner of the blast furnace and ironworks. Under this prince was named the blast furnace known as Philliphűtte. After the end of its operation the blast furnace was dismantled in the 20th century. Its replica was built on another location due to the build-up of the original parcel.


4th stop: Beamhouse with water raceway

In the settlement Joseph´s Valley there were originally five beamhouses with water raceways. Energy obtained from flowing water drove forge hammers, blower or bellows for blowing air into the furnace. Beamhouses were also the forerunners of the first manufacturing production of metal products. Iron production in the settlement Joseph´s Valley brought in the 19th century industrial development for Snina town. “Hámorník” in the beamhouse is in its heraldry – on the seal and coat of arms. The replica of beamhouse was built in the years 2014 – 2015 as is one of the exhibitions of the museum in Zemplínske Hámre.


5th stop: Former foundry

The foundry was built amid the central part of settlement in 1841 by Joseph Rholl. It produced shovels, scythes, nails, agricultural implements, stoves called Mercury, cooking dishes, candlesticks, frames, memorable items and tombstones. In addition to household consumption, artistic sculptures were also executed in a foundry. Perhaps the most famous is the statue of Hercules, casted in 1841 which is still located in the courtyard of the manor house in Snina. In the foundry there was made a heraldry of Rholl, mounted on their family chapel in Snina, and statues of the lion and lioness which are guarding the entrance to the manor house in Humenné. After the end of operation in the half of the 20th century, the buildings of foundry and blast furnace were dismantled. One of the preserved stone molds for casting iron today symbolically marks the place where the foundry stood in the past.

6th stop: Settlement Josefsthal

During the 18th century iron ore was mined and processed in the valley. We can see a proof suggested in written documents from the years 1728 and 1773, as well as map works from the years 1780 and 1782. But steady settlement had not been recorded here yet. Settlement Joseph´s Valley was founded even in the early 19th century. In the past it was owned by several major genera, which included Vandernath, Rholl de Udvarnok, Csaky and Sachsen-Gotha-Coburg. Throughout the 19th century, the settlement was usually labeled as Joseph´s Valley (József völgy, Josefsthal), in the first half of the 20th century it was also called Pustá Hámra or Sninská Hámra. In 1956 there was hiving off the settlement from town Snina and the newly established village was given the name Zemplínske Hámre.


7th stop: Former water saw

Water saw in Joseph´s Valley was built in the early 19th century – the first evidence of its existence was dated from 1819. Localization of that equipment is maintained on the cadastral maps from the years 1865 to 1866. Saw was a wooden, had two water wheels, its independent power canal began at the confluence Barnova River and Black Stream (Čarni potok). Water saw allowed seasonal employment for local residents until the second half of the 19th century, when it was replaced by a new, more powerful steam saw in Belá nad Cirochou – in the former Klárina huta. Until now no water saw or masonry was preserved.

8th stop: Charcoal pile

Charcoal piles for production of charcoal which was inevitable for the processing of iron ore in a blast were made by the local inhabitants in other localities of settlement Joseph´s Valley. The wood was stacked in several layers to each other, at the bottom there was located “cintova dzira” which was used for setting on fire. The whole structure was then overlaid with foliage and fine clay. Charcoal piling has been eventually preserved in Zemplínske Hámre since then, even after cessation of iron ore production.


9th stop: Mining adit

At the foot of Sninský kameň in the past Huta-men searched for locations with iron ore. The oldest record about mining of iron ore in Joseph´s Valley is dated from 1773. The actual extraction was carried by superficial way – on the places of iron ore the pits (“pingy”) were dug which were extracted from the sides of walls and finally showered by tailings. Residues of “pinga” (pit) fields can be found in the forests at the foot of Sninský kameň, they are easily visible in the area above the quarry. Mining of ore in Joseph´s Valley was restored in the early 19th century but in the depths, in the adits. Underground mining took place in three adits, probably named according to family members Rholl – Apolonia, Catharina and Joseph. It was a simple tunnels, reinforced by wooden sleepers, from which iron ore was exported by wheelbarrow. Mining activities in Joseph´s Valley was stopped in 1880 due to break safety regulations. Replica of mining adit was built in 2014 and it is one of the museal exposition in Zemplínske Hámre.


10th stop: Narrow-gauge railway

Turn Barnova – 2 km stretch on the track of the former Snina narrow-gauge railway above Joseph´s Valley – was built by Zemplín Forestry in Snina in 1926. Initially was built for transportationof stone from the quarry which opened in the first half of the 20th century. It also served for the transport of wood from Vihorlat forests by using wagons. Snina Forest Narrow-Gauge Path (S. U. L. D.) with 760 mm track gauge was built by Count Joseph Degenfeld in the years 1912 to 1913. By 1928 the track was prolonged several times to a total length of 26.3 km, even to the foot of Vihorlat – to a site Zvorík. A part of the original track of the turn Barnova has been used in present as a cycloroute (green sign) which can be used to get to the remains of turning-back at Konské.


11th stop: Chalet

For Joseph´s Valley in the 19th century was used the term “colony” which described villages or settlement with German population. Typical periodic arrangement of houses at that timewas at the begin of settlement, from the village Belá nad Cirochou. Labourers, working in mines and ironworks, who originally lived in masonries, began to build detached houses. Based on the census sheets from 1869, we are informed that the vast majority of dwellings were built of wood and had three-spaces available – the front room called “predná chyža”, chamber and back room called “zadná chyža”. In 1869, there were 33 chalets in Joseph´s Valley. One of them was remained until present, is already in private property.

12th stop: Former tannery

Settlers in Joseph´s Valley at the beginning of the 19th century – they took up processing of iron ore, tanning and glasswork. In the tannery were processed the raw animal skins for production of blowers. There was a chalet near tannery where 6 families lived in 1869. No objects were preserved until present.

13th stop: Wooden belfry

In the central part of the former settlement Joseph´s Valley there is a Roman-Catholic church today. However, it had not been there in 19th century. At those places used to be a belfry and next to it there was a subject of foundries, blast furnace and two masonries. The former belfry was demolished when the church was built. It was built againt on the original place in 2014.


14th stop: Mining fields

At Rovienky, around 1,5 km above Zemplínske Hámre, there was intensive mining activity in the 18th and 19th century. Initially it was surface mining carried out by digging pits – “pingas”, later it was underground mining. In 1927 Zemplín Forestry in Snina built here another section of Snina Forest Narrow-Gauge Path (S. U. L. D.). It referred to the track Konské – Trsťový jarok (km 7.80 to km 24.10) with a side-track Rovienky I which was 160 m long and was located between km 11.00 and km 12.00 of the former narrow-gauge railway. At constructing of the railway, a part of “pinga” fields and mining adits was damaged, later ravages of time signed also other mining adits. Since then their whelmed mouths, descended adits furrows and piles of waste rock have been visible.