If you want to go back to the beginnings of the Ruhr region, you have to go to Balve-Wocklum in the Sauerland region. The Luisenhütte there - a completely preserved iron smelter that was still operated with charcoal in 1758 - must once have looked like the St. Anthony Ironworks in Oberhausen, which is the same age,
which today is regarded as the cradle of the coalfield.
Both places symbolize the close ties between the Ruhr industry and South Westphalia. High-grade Siegerland spar iron ore rolled north on the Ruhr-Sieg railroad, completed in 1861, spurring the industrial growth of the Ruhr region. With its innovative coke blast furnaces, the Ruhr relies entirely on the mass production of iron and steel - and later on the dams built in rapid succession in the Sauerland region as a water reservoir for industry and the economy.
as water reservoirs for industry and sprawling cities.
Conversely, the new rail link now also fed Ruhr coal coke to the smelting works in the Siegerland and Sauerland regions, saving the region's forests from destruction by charcoal kilns. The focus here is on forged, wire and rolled products from the small iron industry - a specialization that has shaped South Westphalia to this day and produced dozens of world market leaders, while the Ruhr region is completely dominated by structural change. The technological monuments of both regions offer visitors the chance to experience the entire industrial history - from the earliest beginnings through high industrialization to the present day - in one cohesive area.