ERZGEBIRGE, a mountain chain of Germany, extending in a W.S.W. direction from the Elbe to the Elstergebirge along the frontier between Saxony and Bohemia. Its length from E.N.E. to W.S.W. is about 80 m., and its average breadth about 25 m. The southern declivity is generally steep and rugged, forming in some places an almost perpendicular wall of the height of from 2000 to 2500 ft.; while the northern, divided at intervals into valleys, sometimes of great fertility and sometimes wildly romantic, slopes gradually towards the great plain of northern Germany. The central part of the chain forms a plateau of an average height of more than 3000 ft. At the extremities of this plateau are situated the highest summits of the range: - in the south-east the Keilberg (4080 ft.); in the north-east the Fichtelberg (3980 ft.); and in the south-west the Spitzberg (3650 ft.). Between the Keilberg and the Fichtelberg, at the height of about 3300 ft., is situated Gottesgab, the highest town in Bohemia. Geologically, the Erzgebirge range consists mainly of gneiss, mica and phyllite. As its name (Ore Mountains) indicates, it is famous for its mineral ores. These are chiefly silver and lead, the layers of both of which are very extensive, tin, nickel, copper and iron. gold is found in several places, and some arsenic, antimony, bismuth, manganese, mercury and sulphur. The Erzgebirge is celebrated for its lace manufactures, introduced by Barbara Uttmann in 1541, embroideries, silk-weaving and toys. The climate is in winter inclement in the higher elevations, and, as the snow lies deep until the spring, the range is largely frequented by devotees of winter sport, ski, toboganning, etc. In summer the air is bracing, and many climatic health resorts have sprung into existence, among which may be mentioned Kipsdorf, Bärenfels and Oberwiesenthal. Communication with the Erzgebirge is provided by numerous lines of railway, some, such as that from Freiberg to Brüx, that from Chemnitz to Komotau, and that from Zwickau to Carlsbad, crossing the range, while various local lines serve the higher valleys.
The Elstergebirge, a range some 16 m. in length, in which the Weisse Elster has its source, runs S.W. from the Erzgebirge to the Fichtelgebirge and attains a height of 2630 ft.
See Grohmann, Das Obererzgebirge und seine Städte (1903), and Schurtz, Die Pässe des Erzgebirges (1891); also Daniel, Deutschland, vol. ii., and Gebauer, Länder und Völkerkunde, vol. i.
Note - this article incorporates content from Encyclopaedia Britannica, Eleventh Edition, (1910-1911)