Russegger III chamber

The oldest traces of salt production found near Wieliczka are connected with the exploitation of surface brines and date from the Middle Neolithic Period (around 3500 B.C.). They include equipment used by people of the Lengyel culture discovered in Barycz near Wieliczka (a model in the back of the chamber) consisting of brine channels, containers, furnaces and a large storage house, as well as numerous conical vessels (also known in Wieliczka) used for salt briquetting and drying.
The next stage in the development of salt production in prehistoric times is represented by chalice-shaped vessels of the Lusatian culture from the Hallstadt Period (7th – 4th centuries B.C.) and brine utensils of the Tyniec cultural group from the Pre-Roman Period (1st century B.C. – 1st century A.D.). The latter include large pottery vessels (around 1 metre tall) used for brine evaporation. Of special value are reconstructed brine mechanisms dating back to the Early Middle Ages (10th – 11th centuries) discovered in Wieliczka, and a model of a brine well with a crane and settling tanks from the 12th and 13th centuries.
The evaporation of brine in metal pans was initiated in the 12th century. From the 14th century raw material was supplied to the brine evaporation facility by mine waters drawn to the surface through the Wodna Góra (Water Mountain) shaft. A salt boiling oven with a rectangular pan is shown in a vignette on a map by W. Hondius from 1645.
In 1724 the production of boiled salt was stopped and not restarted until shortly before the First World War after a vacuum-operated saline had been constructed (1911-1913). It contributed to the introduction of a new system of acquiring brine by leaching the deposit which is shown in illustrations.
A serious threat to the mine was posed by water leakage which on several occasions resulted in flooding entire passages. This occurred to the Klocki corridor in 1868, 1877 and 1879, and the Colleredo corridor in 1879. The water that leaked to the cavities was collected and carried away by pipes, channels and various passages to special sumps (wooden containers) or vats, from where it was transported to the main sump located under the Wodna Góra shaft. From here it was carried to the surface in large leather bags and from the middle of the 19th century in wooden buckets which are displayed in the central part of the chamber. Jugs, pails and small wooden vessels were used to draw brine, and large waterwheels (operated by hand by miners) and pendulum pumps to transport water between levels (16th – 18th centuries). The youngest mechanism displayed here is a pneumatic pump made of iron dating from the beginning of the 20th century which was used to pump brine from containers.

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