Tuesday, 15 December 2015

The end of a beautiful dream? Or not?

Today's press conference in Wałbrzych, at which various teams announced the findings of their search for the Gold Train, ended in typical Polish style - the clash between swashbuckling romanticism and tedious empiricism, and the world ended up none the wiser.

Below: screenshot from Google Earth of the site, a little north of Wałbrzych Szczawienko station, the area of interest lies between the main line that runs left to right and the disused siding that runs to the bottom of the pic. Click to enlarge.

According to the two chaps who first claimed to have discovered the alleged whereabouts of the train, Piotr Koper and Andreas Richter, the train is there, 10 metres underground, 92m long, in a tunnel five metres high.

According to Professor Madej of AGH (the mining and metallurgy university in Kraków), badania grawimetryczne (God knows what this is in English, as the Wikipedia page is available only in Polish), there may be a tunnel, but there's no train.

But then according to Dr Adam Szynkiewicz from the University of Wrocław, who's worked on the Pyramids of Giza, there is an anomaly down there - metal elements with very strong electromagnetic field. A train? Maybe. "It is necessary to find out," he says.

Why not look for it?

What? And disrupt the railway service between Wrocław and Wałbrzych?

I get the feeling that it is in the State's interest to keep the issue in abeyance. Maintain the mystery. Digging it up to find nothing would burst the bubble. The wonderful tourist attraction would disappear - no one wants to come to place that used to be shrouded in a legend that has now been disproved. But leave the question unanswered - and they will come. The longer you leave it unanswered, the better.

I disagree. The legend is alive. There are several sites, all of which are accessible by rail, where the legendary train may still be, even if not in alte Nieder Salzbrunn. "It's uh, it's down there somewhere.  Lemme take another look."

There's no better Polish way of pouring cold water on something than to get an boring old professor singularly ungifted with communication skills to blather on in lengthy sentences, using jargon that  to the layman sounds comfortingly learned. "I defer my opinion to his unquestioned authority".

So - what's next? Today's press conference was a total let-down, an anti-climax. It took us nowhere new, it answered no questions - and the world's press are waiting. Three voices - a 'yes', a 'maybe' and a 'no'. Next, then, is the creation of a working group, to study in detail, the three studies, and to prepare a recommendation to the authorities of the city of Wałbrzych.

Having been to the site, I really cannot see why digging can't begin, starting from the top - the roof of the tunnel - rather than horizontally, which would indeed interfere with regular rail traffic. Boring down several metres using the type of drills used for wells would not be difficult or costly. It would quickly reveal whether or not there is a tunnel in the hump of raised ground between the main line to Wrocław and the siding that used to run to the ceramic factory. The cost is the of the order of magnitude that private individuals could easily raise. Drill four or five holes, and you'll have a quick yes-no answer as to a tunnel's existence. Or dig laterally into the hump of ground from the east side (away from the main line).

If not - end of story. If there is - the next steps need to the more carefully planned, to avoid damaging anything down there. According to Piotr Koper, the tunnel mouth is blocked to a distance of 10 to 12 metres. Surely it's not beyond the wit of the authorities to allow some exploratory digging or drilling? The typical Polish problem is finding someone brave enough to take the decision.

"Typically Polish?" you ask. There's an interesting parallel right now, off the coast of Colombia. A US treasure hunter has allegedly found the wreck of a sunken galleon with billions of dollars worth of gold and silver coins. Now, is the treasure hunter entitled to 50% - or just 5% - of the find? Whose law applies? What about the owners of the treasure - the rightful heirs of King Philip V of Spain? Read the whole story here.

Previous Gold Train posts here.

This time two years ago:
Kitten football

This time three years ago:
The drainage of Jeziorki

This time four years ago:
The Eurocrisis - what would Jesus do?

This time five years ago:
Orders of magnitude

This time six years ago:
Jeziorki in the snow

This time seven years ago:
Better news on the commuting front

This time eight years ago:
I no longer recognise the land where I was born


God said...

Here's the English Wikipedia page on the unheard of anyone but me badania grawimetryczne: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gravimetry#Microgravimetry

Here's how it's used, a case study: https://www.sav.sk/journals/uploads/11301346Panisova-Pasteka_CGG-39-3_color_reduced-size.pdf

And what is more, the use of the method isn't only limited to Mitteleuropa: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Williamson_Tunnels

Michael Dembinski said...

@ God:

Useful, interesting stuff. Williamson Tunnels I'd come across but thanks for Wikipedia link. Did you hear about the Moleman of Hackney (http://jeziorki.blogspot.com/2015/12/modern-governance-for-complex-world.html)? Like Project Riese and Williamson, we never got to know why William Lyttle spend so much effort digging...