Where the white-faced cattle roam texts

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Forbach in the Murg Valley

Cf. Jägerschmieds »Murgtal«, Klübers and Schreiber's »Baden«.

In the deep Black Forest, on the Kniebis, which became famous in the Revolutionary War when the French troops under Moreau crossed the Rhine, three springs arise which, when combined, form the Murg, one of the most remarkable mountain rivers in Swabia. On the spruce-shaded "Ruhstein" the Rotmurg starts between rocks and pours directly into a cauldron surrounded by bare rock; the Weißmurg also gushes out of rocks in the so-called Buhlenbach. It is overtaken by the Rotmurg at the "White Cross", and both now move down the Baiersbronn valley with wild noise, the banks of many huts being sown by day-wage woodcutters. The third source, the Fohrenbach, rises near the Kniebis-Zollhaus in Württemberg, drives a grinding mill and many hammer mills in the Christophstale, reinforced by the "red water", in which Cyclopean laboratory assistants forge, and Freudenstadt, originally (1599), leaves a colony on the right bank Protestants who were expelled from Styria, Carinthia and Moravia and who were accepted into Wuerttemberg as an evangelical brotherly party lie and unite with the other two sources in front of the Wuerttemberg village of Baiersbronn. This is how the Murg is formed, which bears its name here and may be about thirty feet wide. Its two banks are connected here by the first wooden bridge.

The course of this river, which meanders from east to west for a distance of fifteen hours, runs through one of the deepest and wildest valleys in that great mountain range of the Black Forest. Sixteen bridges connect its banks, and forty-eight forest streams it takes up during its course. As long as the Murg is still flowing in the high mountain valley, the valley is still fairly wide, and it is located in the middle between the more extended peaks of the mountains. This is the case with the former Benedictine priory and now the village of Reichenbach, for example with Hesselbach, where the view, which the elevated position of the village allows the eye to see, can even be called delicate; the serene valley is surrounded by mountain peaks, the more distant heads of which are picturesquely characterized by light blue. Nearby are teeming with small wooden barns, which, scattered on the craggy slope of the mountain meadows, hold the sturdy hay for the winter in a makeshift way. No region, with the exception of Switzerland, has a greater number of livestock, and the splendid forests provide an abundance of excellent firewood. But the hiker sees whole stretches lying there devastated, desolate and black. This still visible devastation comes from the great forest fire of the hot summer of 1800. The author of this text remembers very well from his childhood how many weeks long the schoolboys with anxious concern asked each other every morning whether the Black Forest was still on fire. The imagination pictured this forest fire as a terribly wonderful spectacle and imagined the innumerable firs and pines of the mountains as just as many pitch torches whose flames blaze visibly across the country. The eyewitnesses describe this devastation quite differently. It consists in slowly creeping into charcoal of the trees and is only appalling in its effects. The fire of 1800 lasted from August 4th to August 21st and ate over 7000 acres of forests in Württemberg. - The forests in this area consist mostly of pines, spruces, silver firs, a few beeches and even rarer maples. Pines and spruces make up the proudest porticoed halls and often reach a height of fifty feet.

A peculiar object of forest use here is tar smoldering or, as the area calls it, smear burning. The Teerschweler leases a large district and builds his own distillation furnace from bricks. On a small bare area, which lies dry on a somewhat flat mountain slope, but is all around protected from the wind by forest or hills, is here, as in the primeval forests of America the emigrants of Europe, the Teerschweler first built a log house from tree trunks laid one on top of the other. The roof is flat, clapboard and weighted down with stones; the cracks in the blocks are plugged with moss. The whole cabin may be 30 feet long, 15 wide, 8 high to the roof. A clay oven provides food and winter firing; the frugal window hatches provide the makeshift light for domestic business. This is the palace in which the Schweler lives with his family in the deep seclusion of the forest and often does not see an alien human soul for days. From the snow-covered hut, he laboriously paves a way to get on one Gang to get the food for a whole week for himself and his family. Next to the hut he sets up a shed covered with brushwood to chop up the sticks and store them. Then the tar stove is built and artfully furnished; five people who are always busy are needed to dig up the sticks necessary for the distillation in two days and bring them to the hut. On the third day the workers chop up the pinewood, on the fourth day it is used, and the distillation is completed in three times twenty-four hours. Merchants pick up the tar grease in front of the stove and sell it in small pieces; the black pitch, however, is drained to merchants in large and small batches.

We are returning to the Murg from the forest industry. The small village of Röt on the left bank, made up of 17 feudal farms, is the ideal of a Black Forest village. The rather long, two-story houses are all made of wood with little clay, and the rooms are paneled with boards. The barn and stables are below ground, the rural dwelling above is blackened and shiny by smoke. Ample window openings give an abundance of light. The farmhands get up early in the morning, clean the stable, water the cattle and lead them to the pasture. As instructed by the march, a few bell-bearing cows make the start in perfect order, and old and young follow the quiet pace of those who walk on. Cattle and goats climb one by one on the mountain wall and take hold of the grass that sparsely sprout from the cracks in the rock and the strengthening mountain herbs. Without shepherds, without supervision, the cattle roam the woods and fields of their owners, and only at dusk do they return to the stables.

Agriculture in these regions is more unpleasant than animal husbandry; Bumps and slopes almost everywhere oppose the plow, and in most places the karst and hoe must be used after the soil has been manured with the ashes of lighted fir and pine logs. There is no mention of fruit growing in the frugal fruit trees. To do this, the residents squeeze the sap from their conifers, and the Harzreißer cauldron almost always smokes. Another forest industry is the pine soot distillery, for which the Black Forest regions use their own ovens.

With all such sometimes hard occupations one meets quiet, peaceful people in these forests, pale as the darkness of their fir trees, abandoned by the cheerful human society and yet content, with a simple way of life and simplicity of morals without need and frugal.

From Röt on, mountains that are getting higher and higher enclose the narrowing valley on both sides for half an hour. The Murg hurries on its curved path and pushes its way through rocks with difficulty. The Schönengründer Höfe are located amphitheatrically at the top. Behind them, the Murg ranks, the valley becomes very narrow, and you think you can reach the mountains on the other side with a stone's throw. Soon the Murg is strengthened on both sides by bubbling rock creeks, the Dobelbach and Füllebach; a wooden bridge of more than a hundred feet leads here to the left bank, with which a larger and somewhat flatter valley opens up, into the depth of which the road runs alongside the Murg. The left side of the valley forms a hemisphere through rather distant mountains, the bases of which flatten into grassy hills. Twenty-five farms run on these elevations, united to form the village of Huzenbach, almost each of which is set apart from the other on one of the undulating, intertwining hills. The re-turning, Wieden are called flexible rods in the language of agriculture. those found here are not exactly favorable to the forest offspring; but it is curious to see how young spruce trees two inches thick and sixteen feet long are twisted here like a flexible cord. The apparatus for doing this, owned by a timber merchants' association, is simple; it consists of a tall, spacious house, the walls of which are covered with boards.

In the village of Schwarzenberg, which rests under the protection of a rock mass and in the vicinity of which the ruins of Königswart, an old hunting lodge, can be seen on a rocky peak, which Count Rudolf von Tübingen built in 1209, the Murg Valley takes on its highly romantic character reminiscent of the wildest Swiss grounds. From now on, the flow of the river is made more and more difficult by a tangle of advanced rock masses. Due to the coherent, rugged walls of the primeval mountains, the course is too restricted, and stirred up by the towering rubble of the rock thrown into its own bed, the Murg confuses its formerly so calm and steady course with the violent noise, foaming through the narrow crevices of fragmented rocks and furiously paves the most arduous path to a peaceful outflow.

Two forest streams now increase the Murg; Of these, the strongest of all its influences is the Schönmünzach, which flows out of a valley on the left side of the Murg that is littered with rock debris. In dry weather, barely six paces wide, it is swelled by the snowmelting spring and its downpours into a terrible forest stream that floods the entire valley. At this confluence, the Austrians built a wooden bridge during the Revolutionary War, which has remained unfinished. Above it is the beautiful Schwarzenberg glassworks and below a water room belonging to the Calw raft wood company. Because in the Murg, which is rolling through the rock more and more difficult, the felling of the Dutch wood is almost impossible, so artificial swelling facilities had to be considered. In such a water room hundreds of thousands, millions of cubic feet of water in a swell, are stored in order to tear away the collected piles of wood in a terrible roar and to chase their logs staggering through the granite blocks of the water to the valley.

Opposite a cool, clear source called Frondbrunn, the Rennelbach water on the right-hand side of the Murg now marks the boundary between Württemberg and Baden. An increasingly rougher bed now flows through the Murg; foaming, it rages through the depths of wooded heights, whose foundations it wets; The valley lined with rocks becomes increasingly gloomy, and apart from the sound of the water, there is solemn silence. The river is forcing itself more and more westward, and for a considerable distance completely fills the valley. Soon he takes up the Hornbach from a mountain gorge on the left and the Rauhmünzach from a tangle of shattered rocks, whose beds can be followed up to the highest mountains; its water flow itself passes between many thousands of granite blocks in the depths. From the second of its four mighty swellings, at the foot of the Hohenkopf, the loneliest place in the whole mountain range, it is only an hour after the "Herrenwiese" behind this mountain, where you can get to a different climate with almost completely dead vegetation breathe believes. On this rough forest head, the cherry grows in the same days that the grapes ripen down on the Rhine. It is not without good reason that their steppes have been called Siberia in Baden.

In this area is the headquarters of the extensive raft timber business, which is run by a trading company of private individuals, which supplies the timber partly through the swellings of the forest streams, partly with unspeakable effort and dangerous work in riots (canals), through barges, on toboggan runs and with ropes Tale promotes and seduces you to Holland on the Rhine. -

Our description now turns back to the Murg. The road now runs further west on its left bank, enclosed by the steepest mountains. The valley remains lonely and gloomy; craggy rocks delimit it on the right-hand side. The country road, however, is excellent and will not easily be better hit in a rocky mountain range.

Here we are approaching the village


the most charming point of the Murg valley, where the wild and the friendlier nature shake hands again and which has therefore been selected by us for artistic representation.

On the way there you come across frequent coal mines to the right and left of the road. Because the steep mountains do not allow them to be laid on the bare earth, they are mostly made of wood and are supported on the tree slopes by trees or carried by rocks. The coal distillery is operated in a peculiar way in the Murg Valley and on the Black Forest, determined by the locality, and the kilns, rising in the shape of a hemisphere, thickly covered with thickly pressed coal earth and kept with a thick lawn roof, decorate the forest instead of closing it deface.

The arable land is completely lost in front of this area, between the Rauhmünzach and the village of Forbach; only coniferous wood and less beech forest cover the high, gable-like mountains and reach down to the road and river. This works with violent noise through the narrow, rocky, lonely valley. The road, which has risen unnoticed, and which basically allowed the grumbling river to flow deep beneath it, gradually sinks again and finally leads straight into the clean streets of Forbach. The village takes its name from the forest of the same name, which drives two grinding mills.

The kind village feeds nine hundred people from the forest business described, which its location favors exceptionally. The work of the Forbach gunsmiths is also valued. The houses are built in a rising semicircle, and the mountains hiding one behind the other all around, the peaks of which are only noticeable and which therefore appear less high here, present a lovely landscape to the eye, especially when, as from our point of view, one looks eastwards from the Village and so overlooks the area. The church, the rear part of which with the choir was built only a few years ago, serene and in the modern taste rising above the village, is no small adornment of it. From the rich church fund, two large altarpieces by new Baden artists have been purchased, which are praised by connoisseurs.

In Forbach one can still see the covered suspension bridge with a wide arch, made by Fahsold, a Karlsruhe resident; it has a secure land fortress through the adjoining granite rock on the other side. The road crosses this bridge to the right bank of the Murg and then gradually rises. The view now opens up more and more, the valley widens and becomes serene, the road leads down the valley, comfortably and safely for cars. It is therefore no wonder that Baden's spa guests usually only travel the four more comfortable hours to Forbach and shy away from going deeper into the mountains. But you are doing it wrong because the path is absolutely good and safe and the real mountain beauties and peculiarities, as we have described them so far, only begin here.

The local forests have been reserved for the productive capercaillie hunt by the Grand Duke, who leads this hunt once a year in the Forbach area.

Below the village, the still very high mountains spread further apart. Here, several sawmills located close to the Murg catch the hiker's eye. “The forest ax sounds up in the mountain forest. Tall fir trees and five-hundred-year-old oaks fall at their cut. While down here on the river the creaking mill saw with iron diligence separates the thick trunk into thin boards uniformly and piled up piles of boards, whole rows of thick trunks are put together in rafts nearby, which, safely guided by an intrepid helmsman, are on the way themselves, one to the other, grow, except for on the Rhine more than a hundred thousand such boards, united in a single raft, than a Total cargo swim to Holland, where they submit to shipbuilding and carry the trader, the emigrant, to the distant island. Cf. Klübers "Baden", II, 144.

The villages of Gausbach, Langenbrand and Weißenbach now follow on the right bank, where the road, which leads high over rock camps, descends again to the deep Murg.Here nature begins again, albeit sparingly, to favor agriculture; Slopes are artificially reinforced and planted with grapevines here and there. Opposite the village of Weißenbach, close to the left bank of the Murg, the small churchyard of the village of Au, occasionally laid out on a vine-planted hill, stands out, and the top of its little chapel protrudes picturesquely from behind trees and bushes.

The path on the right leads so close to the river that stones placed on it must protect the hiker from falling into the water. Not far away is the village of Reichental, hidden behind mountains, where a lot of potash is soaked and the ash is leached in huge wooden hollows made from the strongest Black Forest firs; Cast iron kettles are then used for boiling, in which boiling can take place for 30 years.

At the village of Hilgertsau the road leaves the right bank of the Murg on a wooden bridge, and with every step the view becomes freer and more open. Obertsrot, a small hamlet, has a tobacco and oil mill under one roof; the latter had long recommended its proper equipment and cleanliness, and an excellent oil press.

The two banks of the Murg are still surrounded by rather high mountains; but the current is noticeably exchanging its impetuous course for steady flow. The road curves further westwards on the left. On the other side of the mountain, the village of Schänen is beautifully situated. On this side of the road, at a steep height, between the tops of tall fir trees, the Neueberstein Castle, which has been converted into a grand ducal pleasure palace with gentle taste, protrudes, from whose halls you can see partly the wild valley, partly a view into the loveliest part of the more open area to the Rhine.

There are several mills at the foot of the Schlossberg. The little town of Gernsbach, which spreads gracefully over the hills and plains on the right and left sides of the Murg, is soon welcomed by the hiker, which is characterized by its high level of industry, especially excellent glue works. Here the Murg enters a more open valley. The slopes and bases of the mountains on both sides are free of rocks, crowned with vines and other plantings; Mountain and valley are adorned with fruit trees. In the depths, fertile meadows are irrigated by springs. The Murg, which we now leave to its own devices, is soon no longer used to decorate a rare nature, but only for people's art diligence, until it takes an hour 6 hours from Gernsbach, after washing many laughing villages with smooth waves without complaining below the Baden town of Rastatt, which is notoriously famous all over the world due to the murder of the envoy in 1801, unites with the Rhine.

But not all the peculiarities of the Murgtal have been reported. While down below, in the sweat of his own face, man squeezes the sap of the trees, sometimes drills the spruce into rods, sometimes teaches to swim and sends shipbuilding to the seashore, sometimes turned into coals and ashes and nature forces in every sense to be Earning your own frail life is what the spirit world plays on the heights of these mountains.

On the Teufelskanzel above Gernsbach the prince of hell once preached in person, what he is now doing through his disciples in the flat country, his hellishness in front of a large audience, until a good angel was sent from heaven, on the opposite mountain, near Eberstein, his To erect a pulpit and to lead the children of men on the good path with heavenly eloquence. That annoyed Satan, he raged like an earthquake in seven rock chambers in the high mountains above Loffenau, played ball with the monstrous blocks, built the devil's mill near the clouds, and, tired from work, lay down so heavily in a bed of rocks that its shape is still visible in the rock, with a horse's hoof and tail; he stamped, rattled, raged in his mill as often as the angel over there preached. From the Herrenwiese God the Father watched the mischief and hurled the fallen angel down into his own devil's mill, so powerful that the footstep of the person falling is still visible on the high mountains. Here he fell silent and only stirs at times, grumbling in thunderstorms. On another peak, by the strong tower of Yberg, Satan presented himself to a whole club of witches, sorcerers, wizards and fiends. They worshiped their master, they sacrificed children for him, they danced, they feasted with him, but without salt and bread. That lasted until pious Franciscans built the Fremersberg Monastery and banished all the ghosts in the Klipfengraben.

A more peaceful ghost life weaves in the two Mummelseen near the wildly beautifully situated monastery of Allerheiligen on the Seekopf and, a mile from the Herrenwiese, on the Katzenkopf. An innocent, dwarf gnome race lives here. Once a little resident of the second Mummelsee, dressed in rat fur, came to the mountain village of Kappel on the other side and picked up a midwife to help his female gnome give birth. The water parted in front of his birch rod, an alabaster spiral staircase led the astonished woman into a golden state room, in front of a bed of carbuncles. Here the woe mother did her business, and she gave the rat fur back to the upper world. A bundle of straw was her reward, which she unwillingly threw away and only learned to appreciate when she saw a straw that had stuck on her dress transformed into pure gold. - Another time a wonderful sea lady dives out of the mountain lake, charms a beautiful shepherd boy and gives him her love in the valley, on condition that she never looks after her stay. The boy, drunk with longing, does not keep his oath and sneaks after her to the lake. Then the dull groan of a dying man comes up to him from the depths, and covered with the broad leaves of the Nymphaea the lake turns blood red. An old man with a snow beard and caramel eyes dominates this nymph race. At night and early in the morning they mingle helpful and participatory with the work and joys of the valley dwellers. If a mortal seduces them, they will repent more severely; If they tempt a human child, it sinks into the abyss with them; but the old man holds a righteous judgment, punishes the seductresses and releases the sunken from the lake. Anyone who throws a stone into the still waters is threatened with swallowing them up under a sudden storm. - These spirits are not immortal. Even their king, the silver-haired old man, has died, and someone else will take his place: The following song from Ed. Mörike's "Painter Nolten", Vol. I, pp. 190f.

From the mountain, what's coming there late at midnight
So gloriously down with torches?
Is it still possible to dance or celebrate?
The songs sound so lively to me.
Oh no!
Oh tell me, what can it be?

What you see there is escort to the dead,
And what you hear there are complaints;
Certainly, suffering is for a king,
But it is only spirits that carry it.
Oh well!
They sing so sad and hollow.

They float down into the Mummelsee Valley,
You have already entered the lake,
You don't even move or wet your foot,
They buzz in quiet prayers.
O look
The shining woman at the coffin!

Now the lake opens the green reflecting gate,
Be careful, now they dive down!
A living staircase sways up
And down below the songs are already humming.
Do you hear?
They sing it to rest downstairs.

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