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Air-suspended underground tour through the Merkers Adventure Mine

“Glückauf” (Good Luck) in Thuringia at the Merkers Adventure Mine of the K+ S Group. An exciting experience is waiting down there: each year about 80,000 visitors change into temporary miners in a depth of up to 800 meters below the earth. There, at pleasant temperatures of 22° – 28° C, they discover the world of the „white gold“ – the potash mining in the Werra Valley Potash District.

Five sun yellow transporters based on the Mercedes-Benz Vario 813 van model were specially modified and fitted with platform bodies for visitor transportation. To make the trip over a tour of 20 kilometers of bumpy tracks down in the mine more comfortable, Paul Nutzfahrzeuge GmbH retrofitted one of the all-wheel drive vehicles with an air suspension system at the rear axle in 2013. Due to the positive experience with this air-suspended van K+S placed a follow-up order: in October 2014 two technicians from Passau replaced the standard steel leaf spring systems at the rear axles of another two vehicles by an air suspension system. In the underground workshop of the mine the leaf springs of each vehicle were replaced by two air bellows on each side, supplemented by an air cylinder and a compressor. The air bellows are controlled by the air valves. The modification was completed within only six days. Since then the use of air-suspended vehicles on this thrilling pit journey contributes significantly to a more pleasant tour free of rattling vibrations for the passengers, particularly when the vehicles have to pass the narrow passages of this route.

The journey down below to a depth of up to 800 meters leads through the once biggest potash mine of the world. The tour passes historical places like the „gold room“ where the Allies discovered gold and foreign currency stocks of the German Reichsbank as well as works of art of immeasurable value after World War 2. In the „crystal grotto“ which was discovered in 1981 a unique natural geotope opens to the eyes of the visitors with salt crystals of a length of up to one meter. In a spacious opening that once served as an underground bunker, the largest bucket wheel excavator of the world used in underground mining can be seen. Further stations are the “hands-on museum”, a living museum where visitors may touch things as well as the biggest underground concert hall and the simulation of a blasting demolition. In addition to the visitor tours the Merkers Adenture Mine offers various sporting events as well as concerts, seminars, company events and banquets, but also an underground climbing park with the appropriate name „Down under“.

For further information please visit www.erlebnisbergwerk.de.