The “Black Puddle” – the home of the water sprite
The so-called “Black Puddle” is located between Eisenerz and Hieflau. It is the most important Karst spring of the “Hochschwab”- mountain. The spring already awoke the first speleological interests in 1747. An ambassador of the emperor did research in this area and wrote a manuscript about the Karst spring. The “Black Puddle” goes 1084 meters deep into the mountain. It is the longest measured cave in Austria.
The “Black Puddle” is the home of the water sprite, which is a mythical creature that showed us the “Erzberg”.
The legend of the water sprite
Once upon a time, when there was no Erzberg and the inhabitants were just farmers and loggers, a water sprite lived near the Leopoldsteinersee. Its home was the so-called “Black Puddle”. It never hurt anyone and was seldom seen outside the “Black Puddle”. You could say the water sprite was very shy and it always tried to make sure not to be seen by any human being.
So it was not surprising that the inhabitants of Eisenerz told horror stories about the creepy creature, although hardly anyone had seen it for centuries.
But the people were very curious and did not let the creature out of their heads. But no one was brave enough to catch the water sprite.
Years had passed when suddenly some brave people created a plan how to catch the creature. The water sprite was supposed to be very strong, so a trick was needed to catch it.
It was a sunny morning in spring when the brave men crept to the “Black Puddle”. They took wine, a huge cake and a coat with them. The inside of the coat was smeared with pitch, because the inhabitants thought that the water sprite was a slimy and slippery creature. All these things were laid down in front of the “Black Puddle”. The men hid behind a big stone and waited for the water sprite to come out of its hole.
Having eaten only fish and having drunk only water, the water sprite jumped out of the water and started to eat the cake and drink the wine. It was also curious about the coat, so it put it on. You can imagine that the water sprite was not used to drinking alcohol. It got very drunk and fell asleep in a few minutes.
Now the time for the brave men had come. They jumped out of their hiding place and caught the water sprite with a huge net. The water sprite could not move in the coat. So he had no chance to escape.
The water sprite moaned and begged the men to let him go. But the men would not let the creature go, because they wanted to present it to the inhabitants of Eisenerz.
When they came to the place where you could see the Erzberg for the first time, the water sprite began to speak. It said, “If you release me, you have an option to choose.”
“I can give you gold for 10 years.”
“I can give you silver for 100 years.”
“Or I can give you iron for eternity.”
“But choose well.”
The brave men did not hesitate very long and chose the iron. The water sprite raised its hand and pointed to a wooden hill. It promised the men that they would find there iron for eternity.
The water sprite held its promise. Since that memorable day ore has been extracted on the wooden hill called Erzberg.