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Scythe Forge Museum

With hydraulically-driven hammers, glowing iron and superlative craftsmanship, the forge once produced the farmer’s most important tool: the scythe. In a tour lasting about an hour, the Deutschfeistritz Scythe Forge Museum is where you can breathe and experience industrial history when the whooshing waterwheel gets in gear and the massive strokes of hammers do their work.

With hydraulically-driven hammers, glowing iron and superlative craftsmanship, the forge once produced the farmer’s most important tool: the scythe. In a tour lasting about an hour, the Deutschfeistritz Scythe Forge Museum is where you can breathe and experience industrial history when the whooshing waterwheel gets in gear and the massive strokes of hammers do their work. 

Reaping no longer but, instead, a lively encounter with eternal tradition at the Sensenwerk in Deutschfeistritz. The huge forge which, in its hay day, exported over 60,000 scythes all over the world, is now a museum. The interior space, housing the impressive production facilities including six gigantic water wheels, offers an atmospheric and very popular setting for all kinds of events, ranging from theatrical performances and concerts to art exhibitions. 

The slowly rotating water wheels drive the machines and heavy tilt hammers which pound and forge the glowing iron. It requires more than twenty precise and laborious stages of work to shape 530g of steel into a high-quality scythe. In former days, the good quality of a scythe was essential to the reaper and the mower, who had to cut corn and grass. So scythe production was a lucrative business. Nowadays, the scythe has been replaced by combine harvester, finger-bar and lawn mower. And the old scythe works have ground to a halt ... 

Starting in the 16th century, the Übelbach valley - famous for silver mining in the Middle Ages - saw the development of numerous iron-processing plants and forges. In 1849 Johann Pachernegg established a scythe-making plant in Deutschfeistritz, in operation until its closure in 1984. Thanks to the initiative of an activ cultural association, the original works could be preserved as a museum. During the approximately one-hour tours, even the water wheels and the hammers come back to life. 

Moreover, the old buildings themselves are still vibrant due to the events arranged by the cultural association, the "Kulturverein Sensenwerk Deutschfeistritz". The "Zainhammerhalle" echoes to the notes of jazz, the audience delights in theatre and musical performances and satirical revues fill the halls with loud laughter. On Walpurgis Night, witches haunt the place and perform a musical. The "Altweibersommer" refers to an oldy worldy market day held on the last Saturday in September: homemade local delicacies are sold by women dressed as their great-grandmothers, you can watch a smith and a man sharpening scythes, or enjoy the "Sensenschmied-Sterz" polenta. The fine arts are on display in the Sensenwerk New and Old Galleries. 

By the way 
To ensure that today's scythes maintain their "cutting edge"quality, the scythe works Deutschfeistritz offers a special scythe service (at "Altweibersommer" or on request). 

Scythe Forge Museum | © Region Graz - Harry Schiffer

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Scythe Forge Museum
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Rudolf-Klug-Gasse 2, 8121 Deutschfeistritz
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