Clacking mills and forges: given a helping hand by water power
There’s a huge difference between having to arduously grate grains by hand and having them grated quickly in a water-powered mill. The use of forges, for example in Schmieden, helped to make this work far more efficient as well. Water-powered frame saws and potter’s wheels follow the same lines of industrial progress. Using mobile water wheels and lathes even helps to shape wood. There are numerous historic mills today in the High Tauern National Park, which are still in use for demonstrational purposes. A visit to one of these mills is certainly worthwhile, just for marvelling at the technical prowess of constructing a mill and the targeted use of water.
Endless energy: the great power of the Krimml Waterfalls
An average of 5.6 m³ of water plunges down the tree cataracts of the Krimml Waterfalls into the valley – every second. The 17,000 kilowatts that this generates could cover the medium energy consumption of 40,000 households for a full year! It comes as no surprise that the energy industry declared their interest in the waterfalls in the 20th century. A gigantic reservoir lake was planned for the Krimml Valley, whose water would have supplied 155 million kilowatt hours a year. Alpine associations, institutions and the public, however, decided that it was way more important to protect the unique natural scenery. The Krimml Waterfalls have been a main attraction of the High Tauern National Park, Austria’s biggest nature park, since 1984!
Nymphs, ghosts, other worlds: the spiritual power of water
As an essential element of life, water has a central significance in all world religions. Spring spirits, nymphs and deities of nature are believed to be found at springs and tarns, streams and mountain lakes, rivers and oases. They are the site of rituals that take place over the course of our lives: from Christian baptism to Hindu death rituals. The power of water cleanses, invigorates and creates new life. The people living in the Pinzgau mountains have always been at the mercy of the powers and forcers of weather and the seasons. Being baptised Christians, they still believe in the power of water, the central element of their religion to this day. Tip: visit the parish church in Krimml and see the baptistery!