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Rheinböllen in the Hunsrück

Rheinböllen, on the old Roman road Via Ausonia, is the historic centre of the iron industry in Hunsrück, where the "Rheinböllerhütte", an iron foundry, was in operation for almost 400 years. During its long prosperity, "Rheinböllerhütte" served as a thriving processing plant for 30 iron ore mines over a wide. These iron ore mines, for the most part, were operated under quite difficult conditions, since Hunsrück is rich in poor ore; while numerous, the ore deposits are largely limited to narrow cavities, and widely scattered across the Hunsrück region. The limestone required for the furnace process was delivered from the nearby limestone quarries in Stromberg, which also supplied the local ironworks there (the "alte Stromberger Hütte" and the "Stromberger Neuhütte"). However, at the beginning of the 19th century big iron-processing plants in the Ruhr region and Saarland started production. Since their iron ores had a much better quality, the old iron works in the Hunsrück gradually became redundant. The illustration of the orphanage in 1864 was donated by the industrial Puricelli family, –owners of the former Rheinböllen iron works. This orphanage was later replaced by a hospital and retirement home. Today the building is used as a nursing home, but the massive building still bears witness to the former grandure of Rheinböllen.

The "Blücherhaus" of Rheinböllen reminds people of New Years Day 1814, when Prussian and Russian troops stayed here during their pursuit of Napoleon and his armies. In the 100 hectares "Big Game nature reserve of Hunsrück", a little outside Rheinböllen, various kinds of deer, wild boar, bison, lynx, wolves and bears, as well as many small animals, have found a safe haven. North of this nature reserve lies the "Struth Nature Reserve", a deciduous forest with many wetlands. The name "Struth" is derived from the old High German word "struot" (bush or undergrowth) and describes stony and swampy areas that do not allow a high forest to develop. These type of inaccessible areas were formed during the last ice age 18,000 years ago over the impermeable layers of the Hunsrück slate in shallow depressions that incline slightly southwards. Although this former marshland was largely drained and reforested during the last century, the marshy forest of moor birches, alders, moor grass, and stands of wood sedge and rush still have the characteristics of a "struth".

In the southern Hunsrück region, lies not only the Struth near Rheinböllen, but also the Woppenrother Struth, Schweppenbacher Struth and the Struthhof as well. Those who wish to visit these remote but splendid forest and marsh areas should plan on taking several days over it. Another diversion worth taking in the Rheinböllen area is that to the hill tombs near Erbach, Dichtelbach and Mörschbach, which date from Celtic times.

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