History of the chalet and the settlement
History of the Magurka chalet
The history of the Magurka chalet dates back to the interwar period. A chalet named Úfnosť na Magurke, owned by the Ružomberok Department of the Club of Czechoslovak Tourists, was on the list of the Club already in 1938. The chalet served as a resting point for tourists who were hiking along the ridges of the Low Tatras and a popular trip destination for the whole region of Liptov for many years. However, the fate of the once sought after chalet under the ridge of the Low Tatras changed rather tragically after the revolution of 1989 and it seemed the chalet would seize to exist forever. It became private property and was closed for a long time, falling in decay. Fortunately, it was bought by a new owner in 2008, underwent extensive renovation and could welcome the first guests in early 2009.
History of the Magurka settlement
Magurka is the highest located settlement (1050 metres above sea level) at the foot of the Low Tatras ridge, to the north of the Ďurková saddle. It was established by miners in the 13th century. Originally, the settlement was significant for the whole monarchy as there were big deposits of gold and related ores. A nice sample of gold from Magurka is on display in the collection of minerals in Kunsthistorisches Museum Wien (Museum of Art and History in Vienna). They have a nice piece from Magurka in a museum in Budapest as well – 8 kg of pure gold. Magurka experienced the biggest gold mining boom (about 25 kg per year) before WWI, when about 400 people including children and women were working in the area to mine and process the ore. But after the war, the system fell apart fast – cable cars, facilities, poles ended up at a scrap yard in Podbrezová, the inhabitants were dying out. Only some of the men who had been conscripted to war returned back home.
The gold mining tradition dates back to approximately 1250, when Magurka was private property. Later, it was owned by a village and various individuals so the extracted gold had to be handed over to the empire. During the reign of Maria Theresa, gold mining was managed by the state. Only three adits remained in the hands of the Ľupča village. New shafts – Ritterstein and Kilián were opened in 1835, Russeger was opened in 1848. Gold was extracted by using the old system with water terraces and manual washing, which was replaced by machine washing later.
In 1860, the first houses were built in the area and in 1888, about 250 miners worked there. Antimony was discovered in Magurka in the same year. About 10 – 11 kg of gold, the same amount of silver and 3000 – 4000 m³ of antimony were extracted per year. Kilián, the biggest shaft was 3 km long, Russeger was 1600 m long, Ritterstein was 1400 m long. Other shafts were shorter. The final material was transported to Ružomberok, a cable car system was built between adits and entrances. The whole process took too long, though, which made the production more expensive than the profit so mining was stopped forever in 1923. Machines were transferred to Banská Štiavnica, buildings were sold and only a few families stayed in the village.
There were 20 houses and 75 inhabitants in Magurka in 1928. Among other things, the local miner´s church is very precious. A huge wooden rattle that could be heard far and wide was preserved in the tower. It was used to call miners to work and to announce the end of the shifts as well as on other occasions.