Black river near Grebenhain

Did you know that the term Black River near Grebenhain is used to refer to the numerous charcoal burners (German: Koehlerei), smelters and blacksmiths in the Oberwald?

Alone six well-preserved smelting works were found at the upper Altfell (Black River) and further slag heaps in the area of the village desert "Eigelshain" at the Geiselstein. Even today the forest district east of the Taufstein is called "Koehlerwald bei Urborn".

Wood for the later industrial ironworks, such as the Friedrichshuette near Laubach or the iron foundry in Hirzenhain, was felled and charred in the Vogelsberg until the end of the 16th century. Even today, the circular-flat charcoal burners with a diameter of about 8 - 15 m can be found in the forest, sometimes the black charcoal remains lie visible on the surface.

One last architectural relic of the charcoal burning activity in the Vogelsberg can be found in the forest close to Schlitz-Willofs.

In 1947, the Graf Görtzische Forstverwaltung (forestry administration) built two pile kilns from 4,100 bricks to produce charcoal. The reason was the acute shortage of fuel. Already during the Second World War charcoal was extracted from such stoves for wood gasification engines and gas masks.

Today they are a cultural monument as a testimony of the (post-)war economy, but unfortunately, they are abandoned to decay.

The best parking possibility is in approximately 700m distance at N 50 41,217 E 009 28.947´.


Photos: S. Jost (2018)

Coordinates from 


  • Happel, Hofmann, Kubosch; Naturraumführer Naturpark Hoher Vogelsberg, cognitio Verlag, Niedenstein, 1999
  • Krug; Kulturdenkmäler in Hessen – Vogelsbergkreis II.2, Konrad Theiss Verlag, Darmstadt, 2016
  • Sippel, Stiehl; Archäologie im Wald; Landesbetrieb Hessen Forst, Kassel, 2005