If you have difficulty pronouncing the name of this Austrian town, don’t be embarrassed! Even in the German language, there are few words containing five consecutive consonants!
We lived and worked in Ampflwang and it is the home of the "Miner's Mission Church" where we served. It is where our print shop was located and produced millions of pieces of literature for Austria and Eastern Europe. It is also where the Austrian Bible Institute was established in 1984. Because we have a special place in our hearts for this town, we want to share some historical information with you as well as tourist attractions.
The Hausruck Region and Ampflwang
A large expanse of forest and rolling hills stretches from the German border to
the famous Salzkammergut Region. This area is called the Hausruck Forest, and
the town of Ampflwang lies directly in the center.
A Brief History
Little is recorded about Ampflwang before the 19th century, but around the middle of the 12th century, a certain “Erich von Ampflwang” is recorded as having made a court appearance in nearby Eberschwang. “Wang” indicates “side” or “cheek, probably indicating the side of a hill or mountain. An old saga from 1169 tells of a proud group of knights named “Ampho” which occupied a fort in this region, which is the probably origin of the name Ampflwang.
The Hausrueck Region, including Ampflwang, played an important role during the reformation period and the town had become almost entirely protestant by 1575. Every even year, hundreds of citizens of the Hausrueck Region are involved in an open-air re-enactment of one of the most notorious happenings of this tragic period. In 1625, the Governor of Upper Austria forced rebellious peasants to roll dice for their lives, and 17 were executed. Several were hung from church steeples in the region as a warning to other "heretics." The "Praedikand" (preacher) from Ampflwang, Georg Haemmerle, was commanded to appear in Linz and decide whether he would return to the Catholic Church or enter exile. How he decided is unknown, but for the next 300 years, there is no record of protestants in Ampflwang.
Ampflwang became better known after 1906, when the first coal mines were opened. By 1926, several buildings for breaking and sorting coal had been constructed. Homes were built to house several thousand coal miners who migrated to Ampflwang. Horse-drawn hunts moved the coal via narrow-gauge railways through mine shafts and to loading stations, where an extensive overhead cable-transport-system brought the coal to the breaking and sorting houses. Finally, the coal was transported by regular freight trains pulled by steam locomotives to a power plant in Timelkam and to other destinations.
During the 80s, students and staff of the Bible Institute took a tour of the coal mine. The lady on the right is Verna after emerging from the mine.
Tourism and Horses
In 1961, the last horses were replaced by diesel engines. A local butcher purchased the horses, which had been blinded to keep them from shying in the dark mines. Reluctant to slaughter them, however, the butcher decided to offer rides to children instead. This marked the beginning of a new era for Ampflwang. As the brown coal supply dwindled, hotels were built and more horses added. Ampflwang now boasts the largest number of riding horses in Europe! The recent construction of a Robinson Club Hotel complex with riding stables, tennis courts and a golf course further advanced Ampflwang’s image as a tourist town.
The nearby Salzkammergut Region, with its majestic Alps reflected in 76 crystal-clear lakes, was made famous by "The Sound
of Music" film. Skiers from all over the world spend their winter vacations here.
The coal mines in Ampflwang were closed a few years ago, but instead of tearing out the railroad tracks, it was decided to make them available to a Railroad Club and Museum. Scores of old steam locomotives and other relics of early railroading were moved to Ampflwang. Some are like new and others in various stages of restoration. A large new hall and even a roundhouse have been constructed. Tourists can relive the past with a delightful train ride behind a real smoke-belching steam engine.
Why Not Consider a Vacation in Ampflwang?
If you have time, you can visit the Steyrerhof Museum, Salzburg or one of many other interesting places such as the Steyrerhof (preserved old farm and tractor museum: http://www.stehrerhof.at/ ) or the unique Toilet Museum (really!!) in Gmunden.
Click on the image below to see some of the unusual toilets!