More than 150 years ago, people started to extract brown coal in the lower Lausitz region (lower Lusatia)
What meant wages for the workers, bread for their families and provided much-needed energy, also left a mark on the people and especially on the landscape, because mining also destroyed many villages. Green meadows and productive fields turned into ragged lunar landscapes. The giant chimneys of briquette factories and large power stations characterized the surrounding land.
1924 - A new technology is born
The mine director Fritz von Delius started to construct the first overburden conveyer bridge worldwide in the mine „Agnes“ in Plessa, Germany. The bridge was one of the precursors of the F60 in Lichterfeld.
1958 – Standardised overburden conveyor bridges
The GDR began with the construction of so-called “Einheitsförderbrücken“ (standardised conveyor bridges), which implied uniform construction, multiple production and the reduction of costs. The first conveyor bridges to build were bridges of the type F34, followed by the type F45 and F60. The type designation provides information about how many metres of overburden the bridges were able to remove (in these cases 34, 45 and 60 metres).
1972 – New quality of technology of conveyor bridges
For the first time, a conveyor bridge of the type F60 was used in opencast mining in Welzow-Süd (South Welzow, Germany). In 2001, the company Laubag ran only 5 of the past 32 overburden conveyor bridges.
1991 – The fifth and last conveyor bridge was built
In March 1991, the F60 went into operation in the opencast-mine Klettwitz-Nord (North Klettwitz, Germany). It was built by the former VEB Schwermaschinenbau Lauchhammerwerk (nationally owned enterprise of heavy machinery construction Lauchhammer), which was an enterprise of the combine TAKRAF (open mining machinery, cranes, conveyors). Today, TAKRAF is called TAKRAF GmbH and is a subsidiary of the Italian TENOVA group. Back then, over 1,000 people took part in the construction of the F60.
1992 – End of the opencast mine Klettwitz-Nord (North Klettwitz)
In June 1992, after only 13 months of operation, the F60 was shut down because of reasons related to energy policy. The opencast mine Klettwitz-Nord, where the F60 was located, was closed. The end of the steel giant seemed close. The Lausitz and Central German Mining Administration Company (LMBV – Lausitzer und Mitteldeutsche Bergbauverwaltungsgesellschaft) started to prepare the controlled demolition of the F60.
1997 – A future for the F60
Thanks to a handful of enthusiasts, led by the local council of Lichterfeld, and to Elke Löwe, a landscape architect from Senftenberg, the F60 could escape its fate. They realized the potential of the bridge, which combines old and new, being not only a symbol of the industrial heritage of the region, but as well a sign of the structural change.
1998 – „Glück auf!“ – a new owner
In 1998 the scrapping of the F60 was finally averted. In the same year, the F60 became the most important project of the International Building Exhibition „Fürst-Pückler-Land“ and the community Lichterfeld-Schacksdorf became its official owner. The community developed a utilization concept that presented both the „Horizontal Eiffel Tower“ and as well the mining landscape around the bridge.
2000 – First visitors and even VIP’s
The idea of transforming the bridge into a visitor mine became more and more the focus of attention of the LMBV and the IBA (International Building Exhibition). To achieve this goal, the bridge had to be moved out of the opencast mine to its present location. Complex and sophisticated technical preparations had to be made to move the F60. More than 4,000 spectators watched the event. Encouraged by this success, the F60 and its surrounding area were opened for visitors at Easter 2000. In September 2000, our former chancellor Gerhard Schröder visited the F60. He was impressed by an already very coherent concept that included the visitor mine, the future lake and the surrounding recreation area.
2001 – Foundation of the friends’ association
In March 2001, the friends’ association „Besucherbergwerk F60“ was founded. From this day on, the association has been in charge of the management and administration of the visitor mine. The then Business Secretary of Brandenburg, Dr. Wolfgang Fürniß, became its honorary chairman.
2001 – Beginning of flooding of the Lake Bergheide
In September 2001, the flooding of the Lake Bergheide had been initiated. The F60 will stand at its edge, once the lake is flooded entirely. The name of the lake is reminiscent of the village Bergheide, a village that was destroyed and whose inhabitants had to resettle because of the work in the opencast mine. Since then, this area has been transformed into a recreation area where tourists have the possibility to go swimming, do to sports and to relax. Of course, many parts of the surrounding area are reserved for Mother Nature only.
2002 – Official opening of the visitor mine
On the weekend of the 4th and 5th of May, the former overburden conveyor bridge had its official opening as the new „Besucherbergwerk F60“ (F60 visitor mine). From then on, visitors have had the possibility to take part in 1.3 km guided tours along the F60 up to the highest point of the bridge and to marvel at the surrounding region – a region in transition.
2003 – The F60 became a piece of art: The light and sound installation
On the evening of the 2nd of October 2003, the visitor mine F60 showed her new „dress“ for he first time. The light and sound installation „LICHTERfeld F60“ was turned on by our former Federal President Johannes Rau, Minister-President Matthias Platzeck and Dietmar Gurk, chairman of the F60 friends’ association. On this evening, about 4,000 visitors admired the giant light sculpture designed by Hans Peter Kuhn.
2004 – Nightlight tours and open-air events
In March 2004, the F60 Concept GmbH started to offer guided nightlight tours along the bridge to give guests the opportunity to experience the light and sound installation as closely as possible. Furthermore, the F60 became the scenery for numerous cultural events, such as the opera „Nabucco“ in August 2004.
2005 – LMBV’s International Congress of Renovation
5 years ago, the steel giant F60 made its final move in the opencast mine in North Klettwitz. In September 2005, the LMBV (Lausitz and Central German Mining Administration Company) organised the International Congress of Renovation (ISC – Internationaler Sanierungs Congress) with excursions to numerous destinations in the Lausitz region. The highlight of these excursions was a trip to the F60. About 200 national and international guests visited the bridge.
2006 – The F60 became part of the cycle path network
Since mid-January 2006, the visitor mine has been an important part of the European Route of In dustrial Heritage (ERIH). On the 29th of March 2006, the general assembly recalled the 5th anniversary of the founding of the friends’ association. In December, the cycle path was opened by Minister Woidke, office director Richter and mayor Gurk to complete the design of the environment of the F60.
2007 – 5th anniversary of the visitor mine
Early in May, the visitor mine F60 celebrated its 5th anniversary. Guest of honour was the state secretary of infrastructure Dorette König. In the course of the event on the 5th of May, the ENERGIE Route Lausitzer Industriekultur (Energy Route of Industrial Heritage) was opened. Our former Federal Minister of Education and Research, Annette Schavan, visited the F60 in July to inform herself on the development of the former mining region.
2008 – VIP’s from politics and culture visiting the F60
August: Our former Vice Chancellor and Foreign Minister F.W. Steinmeier visited the F60 during his Brandenburg Summer Tour.
October: Exercise on high angle rescue – Polish and German fire fighters practiced professional abseiling at the F60.
July: In the course of the Brandenburg Summer Concerts, Max Raabe and the Palastorchester played at the F60. About 4,000 guests celebrated the German singer and his famous orchestra.
2009 – 10,000 motorcyclists and the 500,000th visitor
On the 3rd of May, nearly 3,000 motorcyclists drove from Dresden to the F60 (GDMA – Great Dresden Motorbike Ride). In this merry month of May, we could also welcome Mrs Hiltraud Wille as our 500,000th visitor since the opening.
Joseph Meier and Dietmar Gurk signed a contract on cooperativeness between the F60 and the EuroSpeedway Lausitz.
In September 2009, the audio guide system for English and Polish speaking guests was used for the first time.
2010 – 10th anniversary of the last “journey” of the F60, ServiceQualität
Already 10 years ago, the F60 made its last move. To celebrate this anniversary, a small ceremony took place the 19th of February 2009.
The visitor mine earned the quality seal “ServiceQualität Deutschland Stufe I“ (ServiceQuality Germany level 1) yet again.
In December, the F60 was added to the new German database www.museumbildet.de.
2011 – Visitor days in the Lausitz lake country, 10 years of F60 friends’ association
Just in time before the high season, the website of the visitor mine was renewed. The friends’ association could celebrate its 10th anniversary. The association held its regular election of managing committee. D. Gurk, A. Drangosch and B. Graf were elected to establish the managing committee and A. Russig was elected to be the treasurer.
The local government "Kleine Elster" organised with the F60 the 9th visitor days in the Lausitz lake country at the visitor mine in Lichterfeld.