|About 20 km directly south of Kaiserslautern, in the middle of the forest, are three beautifully
preserved charcoal ovens. According to a helpful Waldmeister, the wartime fuel shortage
required that charcoal be used to run the forest service vehicles. A family with five children
lived in an isolated house on the hill above the ovens, and their father monitored the progress of
the charcoal. Years later, one of the children came back and remembered carrying water 500
meters to their house. The forest here now dates back to the 1700-1800's.
Charcoal Ovens for Making Wartime Fuel
The translation of the sign reads, "These were
built in the years 1943/44 by the Forest Service
as ordered by the supervisor of the Speyer
distsrict. At the time, it was necessary to use
charcoal as the fuel for the forest service
vehicles. Each of the three ovens held 4 logs of
soft wood, which produced charcoal within a
week. It was necessary to closely monitor the
ovens day and night, and the temperature was
controlled by opening and closing the vents on
top. After the war years, the French
occupation government again ordered the forest
service to use the ovens. The charcoal
supplied fuel for the French troops performing
traffic control in Kaiserslautern and Pirmasens
as well as for the dairy and timber industry.
After 1945 it was also available at small
businesses. The ovens were last used in
1950/51. After that, they fell into disrepair for
forty years. In early 1991, the Pflaz metal
industry financially supported the Forest Club
of Trippstadt in renovating the ovens. The
ovens remain as a sort of technical monument."
The photo at right is taken on top of the ovens, and
shows one of the three ventilation systems. I
discovered these ovens on youtube while looking
for something else, and at first thought these were
(L) Above one is a date
and the name "Karl
Winkler". (R) The date is
above each oven.
(L) The wooden hut nearby was for the
"Kerle", an informal German term for
"fellas". A serendipitous meeting with the
local Waldmeister provided more info
about the forest and the ovens.
Thanks to Patrick
Zenke and his long
arms for taking the
photos inside the
How to get there: The easiest way is to follow these directions, instead of looking on the map.
Thanks to the Waldmeister for escorting us to the ovens, as we would never have found them
otherwise! Start from the point of Johanniskreuz, an intersection/tiny dorf directly south of
Kaiserslautern. From the main crossroads, turn southwest onto L499/L500. This is the road
which curves BEHIND the lodge/restaurant. Drive 0.5 mile, and turn left into an area with
several bike route signs. Take the middle fork and drive past the "Burgalb Ursprung" pond on
the left 0.8 to 0.9 mile to the T intersection with the bench. Turn right, and go 0.9 miles. The
ovens are on your left. The road is rutted but easily passable in dry weather.
You will pass the Burgalb natural spring on the way to the ovens, which appears on
several old postcards like the one below. The Gasthaus at the intersection serves great
food! The ancient pilgrimage "Jacobs Way" or "Jacobwegs", goes through Johanniskreuz.
This was an important trade crossroads during Roman and Celtic times.