A Visit the Käpfnach Bergwerk Coal Mine in Horgen
by Simon Ewin
As somebody who grew up in the seventies, I always associate coal mines with strikes and power cuts. Some of my earliest memories are of news footage of picket lines, slag heaps and dirty, exhausted looking miners, standing around in the freezing cold. Generally, it was raining !
These early impressions, combined with a concern regarding the health impact of having thousands of tons of rock landing on my head, made me a reluctant visitor to mines and so, it was with some trepidation, that I found myself heading the short distance from my home in Oberrieden, just along the Silver Coast from Thalwil, to visit the Käpfnach Bergwerk in Horgen.
I must confess that I was somewhat surprised to discover that there was a coal mine in Horgen. It didn’t seem to fit my stereotype of the sort of place where coal is mined – I hadn’t seen anybody wearing a flat cap, for a start. Anyway, urged on by my son, we made our way to the Bergwerk in Horgen.
You meet and register in the museum, which is up from the Kapfnach bus stop, along Bergwerkstrasse. It’s in a residential area and not somewhere that you would expect to find a museum, or a mine for that matter, but it’s there on the left as you head up the hill. After a short film about the mine, you then get given a hard hat and head off for a trip on the mine train.
Each time that we have done the trip, the guide has spoken in Swiss German, which I can just about follow. I am not sure whether they do tours in English but it’s still worth doing even if you can’t pick up everything that is said.
The train rumbles through the mine for around 1.5km and you stop at various points to look at things in more detail – the “highlight” is when you get a demonstration of the different types of lighting that were used in the tunnel, including matches held in the teeth. Finally, the guide switches off all the lights and you are plunged into absolute blackness. The experience only heightened my respect for people who have worked in mines down the ages – it must have been, and I suspect still is, a really tough life.
It’s quite a relief when you emerge back into the daylight but the trip itself is definitely worth it for adults as well as kids. There is an age restriction with no kids under the age of 6 allowed but for kids older than that who aren’t afraid of the dark, it’s a good trip.
As you head back down the hill after your mine visit, there is a turning on the right that leads past a small playground, the Horgen shooting range and into the Horgen Töbel. This is a nice way to finish off an afternoon out, especially on a hot day, as it’s a shady walk along a valley by a pretty stream.
There are information boards about the various mining activities, you will find some mine entrances and there is even an old mine cart that you can push along some tracks – but mind your back, its heavy !!! 😊 It’s not a long walk, maybe a couple of kilometres, to reach a picturesque waterfall.
From here, either turn round and head back or, if you continue up the river, cross at a bridge on your right and climb out of the valley, you can get a bus every half-hour back to Horgen Bahnhof.
The Bergwerk is open on Saturday afternoons from April to November but it’s probably worth calling in advance to check exact times of the guided tours.
Words and Photos by Simon Ewin
For further information on opening times and tips on what to wear see below:
Information on Bergwerk Käpfnach Mine
Address: Bergwerkstrasse 27, 8810 Horgen
Tel: 044 725 82 49
Opening Hours: April to end of November, Tours from 1pm – 4pm on a Saturday.
The public guided tours with a visit to the museum and a trip into the tunnel run from April to the end of November. They are intended for individuals and families. They are not suitable for groups.
How To Visit: You need to register anytime up till the Friday before for the guided tour from 1 p.m. and 3 p.m. by calling 044 725 39 35 or by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org
Duration of the trip: about two hours
Prices: Children CHF 8, Over 12s CHF 10 and adults CHF 15
Tips: Wear covered shoes and warm clothing as the temperature is around 13 degrees
Visit the Bergwerk website (in German) here
If you are interested in supporting the Bergwerk activities you can join the Verein by contacting the
Alternatively donations can be made to Bergwerk’s account:
IBAN CH11 0900 0000 8717 0073 0
Please mark them:
Bergwerkverein Käpfnach, 8810 Horgen
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