Eulenloch (owl hole)
Facing uphill just below the foot of the Echernwand, a trapeze-shaped opening is visible in the wall which immediately reminds you of the entrance to a horizontal mineshaft. Viewed from the hiking trail the opening in the cliff appears hard to reach. But on closer investigation it turns out that a giant boulder which has become detached from the wall and has broken off makes the opening relatively easy to reach. For a long time the whole in the cliff has been known as the "Eulenloch" (owl hole). Nobody has yet discovered why it bears this name. The age and purpose of this cliff hole was still unexplained for long time. The tunnel-shaped outline with the two recognisable boreholes suggests mining activity. A text passage found in the writings of J. A. Schultes can only refer to the owl hole: "Up on the Siegwand, on the path towards the waterfall you see a quadrangular hole in the cliff.
You would believe that it is impossible for people to climb into it, yet gem hunters used to climb up there and search for ores!" This should at least clarify the purpose of the owl hole, which was probably used by miners carrying out their work rather than hunters. And we can also date these prospecting activities to the 18th Century or somewhat earlier, as Schultes' travel descriptions date from the years 1794 to 1808. In past centuries there was also lively prospecting and ore mining activity in the inner Salzkammergut.
The Arikogel, the Reinfalz alps (Ischler Salzberg) and the Rötelstein (Bad Aussee) are all examples. The prospecting tunnels on the southern slope of the Niedere Scheibe (Durchgangalm/Hallstatt) could also date from this time. Adalbert Stifter 1845: "The most striking thing in their surroundings is the mountain, the subject of contemplation of those who live there, and it has become the focus of many stories. There is no man, young or old, alive in the village who has not something to tell about the crags and peaks of the mountain, its crevasses and caves, its waters and boulder-filled streams..." Friedrich Simony writes: "My heart was heavy as I left the Salzkammergut, where every crag of the cliff, every beautiful tree, every raging stream, lakes, valleys, mountains and many warm eyes and soft hearts had become my dear friends."
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