Encyclopædia Britannica, Ninth Edition/Harz Mountains

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HARZ MOUNTAINS, The (also spelt Hartz, the German Harzgebirge, and the ancient Silva Hercynia), the most northerly mountain-system of Germany, situated between the rivers Weser and Elbe, occupy an area of about 786 square miles, of which 457 belong to Prussia, 286 to Brunswick, and 43 to Anhalt. Their greatest length extends in a S.E. and N.W. direction for about 56 miles, and their maximum breadth is about 20 miles. The group is made up of an irregular series of terraced plateaus, rising here and there into rounded summits, and intersected in various directions by narrow, deep valleys. The N.W. and higher part of the mass is called the Ober or Upper Harz; the S.E. and more extensive part, the Unter or Lower Harz; while the N.W. and S.W. slopes of the Upper Harz form the Vorharz. The Brocken group, which divides the Upper and Lower Harz, is generally regarded as a part of the former. The prevalent upper geological formation of the whole district is greywacke and clay-slate, through which the granite here and there protrudes, as in the case of the Brocken. The highest summits of the Upper Harz are the Brocken (3742 feet), the Heinrichshöhe (3402 feet), the Greater and Less Königsberg (3376 feet and 3369 feet), and the Wormberg (3182 feet); the Lower Harz, the Auersberg (1870 feet), and the Victorshöhe (1762 feet). The towns in the district, though not large, are tolerably numerous. The principal are—in the Upper Harz, Goslar, Klausthal, Zellerfeld, Andreasberg, Altenau, Lautenthal, Wildemann, Grund, Harzburg, Ilsenburg, and Wernigerode; and in the Lower Harz, Harzgerode, Elbingerode, Rübeland, Quedlinburg, Ballenstedt, Gernrode, Suderode, Blankenburg, Thale, and Stolberg.

The chief industry is mining, which has been carried on since the middle of the 10th century. The Harz is second only to the Erzgebirge among the mountains of Germany in mineral wealth. The most important mineral is a peculiarly rich argentiferous lead, but gold in small quantities, copper, iron, sulphur, alum, and arsenic are also found. Marble, granite, and gypsum are worked; and large quantities of vitriol are manufactured. The vast forests that cover the mountain-slopes supply the materials for a very considerable trade in timber. Much wood is exported for building and other purposes, while in the Harz itself no other fuel is used, whether for smelting the ores, which is done at the mines, or for domestic use. Employment is thus given to a large number of charcoal burners. The saw-dust of the numerous wood-factories is collected for use in the manufacture of paper. Turf-cutting, coarse lace-making, and the breeding of canaries and native song-birds also occupy many of the people. Agriculture is carried on chiefly on the plateaus of the Lower Harz; but there is excellent pasturage both in the north and in the south. In the Lower Harz, as in Switzerland, the cows, which carry bells harmoniously tuned, are driven up into the heights in early summer, returning to the sheltered regions in late autumn. The Harz being the first obstacle to oppose the moist, cold winds from the North Sea, the northern summits are destitute of trees, but the lower slopes of the Upper Harz are heavily wooded with pines and firs. Between the forests of these stretch numerous peat-mosses, which contain in their spongy reservoirs the sources of many small streams. On the Brocken are found one or two arctic and several alpine plants. In the Lower Harz the forests contain a great variety of timber. The oak, elm, and birch are common, while the beech especially attains an unusual size and beauty. The walnut-tree grows in the eastern districts.

The last bear was killed in the Harz in 1705, and the last lynx in 1817, and since that time the wolf too has become extinct; but deer, foxes, wild cats, and badgers are still to be found in the forests.

The streams are very numerous, but are all small. While they are rendered extensively useful, by various skilful artifices, in working the mines underground, at other parts of their course they present the most picturesque scenery in all the picturesque Harz. Perhaps the finest valley is the rocky Bodethal, with the Ross-Trappe, the Hexentanzplatz, the Baumannshöhle, and the Bielshöhle.

The inhabitants, about 70,000 in number, are descended from various stocks. The Upper and Lower Saxon, the Thuringian, and the Frankish races have all contributed to form the present people, and their respective influences are still to be traced in the varieties of dialect. The boundary line between High and Low German passes through the Harz.

The Harz is now one of the most frequented tourist resorts of Germany. It is traversed by excellent roads in all directions, and is completely girt by railways from the principal towns of the empire. The chief point of interest is undoubtedly the Brocken or Blocksberg, famous as the scene of the "Walpurgisnacht" in Goethe's Faust, as well as for the atmospherical phenomena of which the "spectre of the Brocken" (see Halo) is the best known. The Harz was the last stronghold of paganism in Germany, and to that fact are due the weird legends, in which no district is richer, ani the wild and fanciful nimes that are given by the people tu the peculiar objects and appearances of nature.

Literature.—A very full list of works on the Harz, especially on the Brocken, will be found appended to the painphlet Zar Geschichte der Brockenreisen, 4th ed., Aschersleben and Leipsic, 1875. Sve also Wolzmann, Hereynisehvs Archiv, Walle, 1803; Honemann, Die Alterthiimer des Harzes, Klausthal, 1827; Zimmerinan, Harzyebirge, Darmstadt, 1834; Hoffmann, Purgen und Burgfesten des Harzes, Quedlinburg, 18386; Hausmann, Ueber die Bilduny des Harzyebirges, Gottingen, 1842; Lrockenstammbuch, 1850; Brederlow, Der Harz, zur Belchrung und Unterhaltung fir HMarzrcisenle, Brunswick, 1851; Lachmann, Nivellement des Harzgebirges, Brunswick, 1851; Spicker, Der Harz, seine Ruinen und Nagen, Berlin, 1852 and 1856; Ey, Harzbuch, Goslar, 1853: Prohle, Harzsagen, 1854; Harzbilder, 1856; Harz und Auffhius 7 in Gedichten, Schilderungen, &v., 1870, and Der Iarz, 1878; Weygweiser im Harz und dessen Umgegend, Berlin, 1857; Nauenburg, Der Lustwanderer im Harz, Eisleben, 1857; Mrs Burton, Our Summer ta the Harz Forcst, Edinburgh, 1865; Groddeck, A briss der Geognosie des Harzes, WKlausthal, 1871; Hampe, Flora Hercynia, IIalle, 1873; Blackburn, The Harz Mountains, a Tour, London, 1873; Buch (Gesammelte Schriften), 'Ueber den Varz," 1877; Rev. J.S. Hilland J. W. Tanley, in Colliery Guardian, vol. xxx.; Heine, flarzreise. Among the Handbooks may be noted those of Schweizer, Werner, Gottschalk, Meyer, Muller, Prediger, and Grieben.