The Arnshall Saltern, the Outsider among the Thuringian Saltworks
Of the seven saltworks operating within the present day state of Thuringia in the second half of the nineteenth century, the Arnshall saltern near the city of Arnstadt was by far the smallest. Around the turn of the century Arnshall produced only about 1 000 tons annually, while all the others had an annual production of over 2 000 tons, the Glenck saltern of the Consolidated Thuringian Saltworks, Inc. at Stotternheim near Erfurt even 8 000 tons. However, in 1887 the Arnshall saltern became famous in the history of saltworks technology through the invention and patenting of the boiler-assisted saltpan. This pan type, consisting of a main pan communicating with a lower boiler-pan containing flame tubes which heated the brine from within, resulted in greater thermal efficiency and longer maintenance intervals between cleaning the pan from precipitates. Many salterns in Central Europe adopted this pan type. This was also true for the Oberilm saltern established in 1905, situated 13.5 km to the southeast of Arnstadt, which soon achieved an annual production of 10 000 tons. Arnshall was no match for this competitor and ceased to operate in 1912. The Oberilm saltern was shut down as late as 1999.
Arnshall, founded as a stockholder company in 1845, was haunted by bad fortune from the very beginning. Technical and financial difficulties caused frequent delays and temporary shutdowns. Drilling of the first brine well, which was only 260 m deep, took from July 1845 to May 1849. Pumping started only at the end of 1851. The costs of drilling and construction exceeded all estimates and the ambitious plan to erect a soda factory had to be abandoned. After a few years, the concentration of the salt brine in the first well decreased to such a degree that the saltern was shut down. A second well was drilled from 1863 to 1867, final depth was reported as 331,5 m. With this well operating, the saltern was sold to the M. & H. Fläschendräger Machine Company in Arnstadt in 1878.
A small-town saltbrine bathing business did not develop to a full-scale spa like at many other saltern locations for lack of support through the Arnstadt municipality. For today's reader, the complete documentation in the archives of the administrative bureaucracy and taxation regulations pertaining to the mining and salt industry in the Schwarzburg-Sondershausen Principality which ruled over Arnstadt at the time is an amusing example of German particularism in the nineteenth century.