The saying has it, that silver mines have been built by the Romans in Suggental. Unfortunately, nobody could come forward with hard evidence yet. Silver brought tremendous wealth to Suggental (Suggen Valley); not surprisingly in 1284 the community could afford a pipeline from Kandel to their village supplying the meadows with water, bridging an altitude gap of 3000 feet. The silver mining age ended abruptly on 15. May 1298, when a heavy rain flooded all mines killing workers and leveling housing. Sadly enough, Suggental's mining industry never recovered from this act of God. In the historic church it was inscribed "1258, Suckenthal sinking", a mistake made during renovation mistaking a "9" for a "5".
Silver was being separated from lead as early as the 4th century and has been used for ornaments, utensils, and trade. It was long considered second only to gold. In Medieval Europe, it was even more valuable than gold. Associated with the moon, the metal was referred to by the name luna. One of the symbols for silver is a moon with the open part on the left.
Silver mining had a negative health effect on the local population in Elztal. Silver itself is not toxic but most of its salts are poisonous and may be carcinogenic. Compounds containing silver can be absorbed into the circulatory system and become deposited in the body leading to argyria which results in a permanent grayish pigmentation of the skin. Argyria is a disease caused by the ingestion of silver. The most dramatic effect of argyria is that the skin is coloured bluish-grey. The condition is believed to be permanent. Argyria occurs in people who eat or breathe in silver compounds over a long period. A single exposure to a silver compound may also cause silver to be deposited in the skin however, this is not known to be harmful. It is likely that many exposures to silver are necessary to develop argyria. Once you have argyria, it is permanent. However, the condition is thought to be only a cosmetic problem. Reports of cases of argyria in Suggental suggest that gram amounts of a silver over several months may cause argyria in humans. Most of the people who worked in Elztal mines became argyric.
Today, the health effects of silver are a subject of dispute. Some experts argue, that silver has germicidal effects and kills many microbial organisms without causing noticeable harm and various kinds of silver compounds are sold as remedies for a variety of diseases. However, no clinical study has yet demonstrated a therapeutic use for silver as an antibiotic. Ingestion of silver however can lead to argyria. Mining in Simonswald had some minor negative effects such as unnaturally high concentrations of heavy metals. Water in the mine has leaked through into local groundwater, contaminating it with metals such as lead and cadmium.
Simonswald rock mining used to mine large ore bodies by creating huge underground rooms supported by surrounding pillars of standing rock. There are a number of mining methods that are used to extract the silver mineral bearing rock from the host rock. Typically some means of support is required in order to maintain that openings that are made by mining. This can be done by pillars which are then mined following the backfilling of the initial stopes.
Silver mined in Elztal had been used for producing coins; silver has been coined to produce money since 700 BC. Later, silver was refined and coined in its pure form. The terms for silver and money are the same in many languages. The metal was chosen for its beauty in the manufacture of jewelry and silverware, which are traditionally made from silver alloy. Today, silver's catalytic properties make it ideal for use as a catalyst in oxidation reactions. Silver chloride can be made transparent and is used as a cement for glass.
In Simonswald legends, silver was seen as harmful to supernatural creatures like werewolves and vampires. The use of silver fashioned into bullets for firearms was a popular application.