Xmas/New Year Competition – No. 11

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The 11th mystery location. Satellite photo Google Maps.

Today’s mystery location should be familiar to those who used to follow steam-hauled trains on this railway in their cars.

Location no 10 showed the track of the German (probably 600mm gauge) narrow gauge railway that brought construction materials to the underground complex at Osowka in the Owl Mountains during WWII. The three articles linked to below provide probably the best English-language discussion of this real world mystery.

The Osowka complex – and several similar underground complexes nearby –  have been the subject of regular speculation in the Polish press. But just as in the case of the Loch Ness Monster, the fundamental questions have never been satisfactorily answered.

The no 10 location was meant to defeat all BTWT batsmen, but amazingly Waldemar Heise unravelled the location in a matter of hours. Asked how he succeeded when so many BTWT veterans were stumped, he explained that his secret was flowers and plants!

Detective work is a quite usual thing for me. I work at Jagiellonian University Institute of Botany, and as a part of my job is to try to find historic stands of rare plants in Poland. Also, most of my actual time is taken by editing and processing geographical and botanical data from whole country. In both cases I need to work with Polish WIG maps, Russian and Austrian KuK maps, Prussian Grossblatts and Messtischblats and… modern WIG, GIK and other topographic maps and ortophotomaps.

In this particular case I saw some hills (quite steep), deciduous forest, terraced fields and pastures. It couldn’t be anything in Carpathians – also I know most of the Swietokrzyskie mountains (made a topographic survey there this year) – so it should be somewhere in Sudety. There was one big problem – most of the railways there in some part of their history were narrow gauge, and many of them are now defunct.

So I opened my qGIS and searched for a particular area where I could find such hilly terrain with lots of complicated, defunct, former railways. After checking the western Sudety I remembered that there were some military lines in the area of Bardzkie and Sowie mountains. So I opened some 1965 maps which should still show some cuttings and embankments and “tadaaah!” – the German Riese complex of Rzeczka, Osówka and Walim. It was worth 3 sleepless hours!

A Google Maps ‘slippy’ satellite view (can be scrolled and zoomed) of the No. 10 location at Osowka.

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