THIS is a very complete account of the origin and development of the towns and villages in the region known as “the Thuringian Forest,” with a special chapter on the geology, topography, and climatology of the district, and a valuable map. The “Thuringian Forest” extends from Eisenach, on the north-west, to Schleusingen, on the south-east, and covers an area of about 1200 kilometres, with a population of 143,986. The mountains of this region are mainly composed of granite, gneiss, palæozoic strata, and porphyry. About a third of the district is still covered with wood. Formerly there was a great variety of trees, comprising the pine, oak, beech, birch, elder, maple, aspen, and willow; but now the forests consist almost entirely of pines, with a few beech woods between Friederich-roda and the mediæval walled town of Schmalkalden. The average temperature is somewhat lower than that of the whole of Germany. In the higher villages neither wheat nor the finer kinds of fruit will thrive, and there is frost during from ten to eleven months in the year. The climate, however, is very healthy, and the beauty of the scenery and purity of the mountain streams attract many visitors during the summer months. The highest, and one of the most popular, of these summer resorts is Oberhof, a village at the top of the pass over the Schützenberg, of which the earliest record is in the year 1267. Only oats and potatoes can be grown here (2541 feet above the sea-level), and even the house-sparrow cannot be acclimatised. Eisenach, the capital of the district, is chiefly known on account of the confinement of Luther in the neighbouring castle of Wartburg, which was erected to guard the Thuringian frontier on the west in the years 1067 to 1070. This fortress was close to the junction of two important roads from Erfurt and Mühlhausen,and,as usual in such cases, a town rapidly grew up at the foot of the hill on which the fortress was built. Eisenach now has 13,000 inhabitants, with three churches and several factories. Other towns and villages not so favourably situated owed their development to the neighbourhood of mines, healing waters, &c. Ruhla, a flourishing town of 4500 inhabitants, was celebrated in the first half of the sixteenth century for its steel manufactures, but foreign competition and heavy taxes nearly ruined the place, and in 1748 the population had considerably diminished. The enterprising spirit of the inhabitants, however, was soon drawn into a new channel by the discovery of mineral waters and the introduction of the manufacture of carved amber and pipe-bowls of imitation meerschaum, an industry which has attained considerable proportions. A somewhat similar history is that of the manufacturing town of Ilmenau, which is first mentioned in the chronicles of the fourteenth century. It flourished as an important centre of the copper-mining district of the Ilm up to the year 1739, when the mines were flooded by an inundation. In 1752 the town was burnt to the ground, and, though partly rebuilt, it shared in the general distress caused by the seven years' war, and did not revive until the beginning of the present century, when the manufacture of glass, porcelain, and toys was introduced. In 1838 the establishment of a hydropathic institution afforded a further stimulus to the trade of Ilmenau, and the population has increased from 1972 in 1809 to 4593 in 1880. On these and other places of less note in the Thuringian Forest Dr. Regel's work affords abundant information, though it is somewhat overcharged with notes and references which serve rather to display the extent of the author's reading than to illustrate his text.
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