Around Slovakia

Village looks to promote rail-less railway
WWII artillery shell discovered and defused
International students gather at U.S. Steel
Bryndza factory celebrates 210th anniversary
Two restored bunkers recall uprising history
French army truck wins restoration title

Village looks to promote rail-less railway

Magnezitovce Mayor Branský is looking for uses for the village's rail-less viaduct.
photo: Sme - Ján Krošlák

APART from its many natural and historical monuments, the Gemer region has another unique feature - Gemerské spojky (Gemer joints). This name is used for parts of the planned rail route in the region, which has never been completed, the Sme daily wrote.
Construction of the railway connecting Tisovec, Revúca and Slavošovce started during the Second World War, in 1941. But it was never finished and no rails were ever laid.
The village of Magnezitovce, close to Jelšava, can be proud of the most beautiful constructions of the planned railway - a 230-metre long viaduct and two tunnels. In Slovakia this curiosity is largely unknown, but Czech bike tourists have started to discover it.
The tunnel and the viaduct are still in excellent condition and they need no maintenance.
"Their builders were masters," Magnezitovce Mayor Július Branský told the Sme daily. "They used construction materials of excellent quality. Only the iron railings have disappeared from the viaduct, which might be dangerous. We have found the culprit and stopped further thefts. A fall from the viaduct might be tragic, as it is 38 metres high."
The village is looking for other ways to use the viaduct and tunnels. They have not found a solution so far. They used the shorter tunnel to store potatoes and fruit, and even considered growing mushrooms in it.
Now the village is looking to use it for tourism, which is quite underdeveloped because of the environmental effects of magnesium mining in the area.
"We have set up a micro-regional organisation called Magnezit, which we want to use to pool our resources," Branský said. "We are at least thinking about bike paths. We also have a big dream of launching a railway museum here."
They also think a train running across the viaduct and through the tunnels would be a nice idea.
"These are very nice ideas, but we are realists. This plan would require a lot of money," Branský said.
Going through the tunnels is an adventure. Many people try this on foot or by bike. The Slavošovce tunnel is flooded with water and mud in its lower part, so people build ingenious aids to help them across. They lay down trees or boards and use skies for going through the mud.
The shorter tunnel, called the Korpášsky tunnel, is only 245 metres long and it is possible to see the light at its end from the tunnel opening. But people need flashlights when they go through the longer tunnel.
One end of the shorter tunnel is blocked with a brick wall, but there is a hole in the wall.
"We are thinking of removing the wall completely," said the mayor.
The village's biggest problem is vegetation in the area.
"Every spring we make the area accessible, but after few weeks it is already a jungle again," said the mayor. "This place has a great future - it just requires a bunch of enthusiasts to help it."

WWII artillery shell discovered and defused

A 40-YEAR-OLD harvesting potatoes in his field discovered an unexploded artillery shell with a faulty detonator dating back to the Second World War.
A police munitions disposal specialist was called to the field in Pečeňany, in Trenčín Region, where the ammunition was discovered on August 21. The shell was still full of explosives and dangerous, so the specialist defused it, a spokesperson for the Police Corps regional headquarters in Trenčín, Katarína Hlaváčová, told the TASR newswire.
Police munitions specialists detect 2,400 to 3,200 pieces of ammunition and some kilograms of infantry ammunition from the Second World War each year.
"Most often we find hand grenades, artillery grenades with a calibre of 47 to 155 millimetres, artillery mines with a calibre of 50 to 120 millimetres, and we also find two to three large bombs weighing between 220 to 250 kilograms each year," Viktor Plézel, from the Police Corps Presidium, told TASR.
"It is impossible to define the exact amount of the ammunition that is found. After the war, there were tens of thousands of pieces across Slovakia which we are defusing to this day."
Most ammunition is found where the war front stayed for a longer period of time. In eastern Slovakia it is around Dukla, Snina, Medzilaborce, Moldava nad Bodvou, Sobrance and the Dargov and Soroška mountain passes.
In central Slovakia it is around Žilina, Zvolen, and in the Orava region around Zubrohlavá, Borová and Oravská Jasenica. In southern part of central Slovakia these regions include Poltár, Dolná Strehová, Jesenské and Rimavská Seč.
In western Slovakia, old ammunition is mostly found around Levice, Nové Zámky, Štúrovo, Komárno, Trenčín, Malacky, Veľké Leváre and Bratislava.
The ammunition is most often hidden in forests, but also close to family houses in towns and villages. It is impossible to estimate how much there is.
Police bomb specialists have been uncovering and detonating ammunition since 1952.
"Each piece of ammunition that people find by chance is dangerous," Plézel said. "We do not recommend handling it. The person who finds it is usually not able to assess its condition and it may explode when it is being handled."
People should notify the police whenever they find a piece of ammunition. Police specialists can then assess it and detonate it.

International students gather at U.S. Steel

U.S. Steel is teaching students how to artistically process metal waste.
photo: TASR

FOURTEEN university students from across Europe are in Košice to take part in an international workshop at U.S. Steel.
Twenty-three teachers and design students from Great Britain, Hungary, the Czech Republic and Slovakia are attending the company's sixth annual Inspirations in Metal workshop. It began on August 20, the TASR newswire wrote.
The workshop aims to give students ideas to help them artistically process metal waste. According to the organisers, there are two main themes this year - "Welcome to Košice" and "We Put the World in Motion".
The students will present their work at an exhibition held in the Slovak Technical Museum in Košice until September 30.
Inspirations in Metal 2007 is one of the events featured in Košice's bid to obtain the title of European Capital of Culture.
The event has been organised since 2002 by U.S. Steel, the Faculty of Arts of the Technical University in Košice, and the specialised Secondary School of Metallurgy in Košice-Šaca.

Zvolenská Slatina
Bryndza factory celebrates 210th anniversary

ONE OF Slovakia's top bryndza factories marked its 210th birthday with a bryndzové halušky-eating contest on August 25.
Bryndziareň has hosted the contest every year since 2003. It's popular with people who enjoy the traditional Slovak dish, the TASR newswire wrote. The factory in Zvolenská Slatina has produced the Slovak sheep cheese since it was founded by the Molecovs family in 1797. That makes it one of the oldest facilities of its kind in the world.
And it's still churning out cheese in massive amounts. One of the biggest bryndza companies in Slovakia, Bryndziareň produces 80 to 100 tonnes of the cheese monthly.
Last year the company produced more than 1,000 tonnes of bryndza, of which 750 tonnes was sold in Slovakia.
A total of nine facilities produce around 4,000 tonnes of bryndza in Slovakia annually.

Pohronský Bukovec
Two restored bunkers recall uprising history

A PIECE of three-dimensional history from the Slovak National Uprising returned to Pohronský Bukovec on August 29.
On this day, when Slovakia marked the 63rd anniversary of the uprising, the restored bunkers at the Matúšová partisans' base were ceremonially re-opened.
The legendary unit of Alexej Jegorov was based there during the winter of 1944 and 1945, the TASR newswire wrote. Enthusiasts from Pohronský Bukovec, in the Banská Bystrica Region, the state forest company Lesy SR, and the regional unit of the Slovak Association of Anti-fascist Fighters reconstructed the two bunkers on the Prašivá mountain. Signs in the Bukoveská Valley provide visitors with information about the bunkers and fate of their inhabitants.

French army truck wins restoration title

Two years of repairs have returned this Ward LaFrance truck to its former glory.
photo: Pavol Vitko

A MILITARY truck that served in the French army won the historical vehicle reconstruction competition at the Sahara 2007 conference on August 25.
The Ward LaFrance truck owned by Marian Simeon of Nové Mesto nad Váhom was produced in the United States. It is the only vehicle of its kind in the former Eastern Bloc countries.
"I discovered it in Paris, and the last time it was in active service, it was used by the French army," said Simeon, the car owner and president of the historical vehicles club, Old Duty Trucks.
He said the 14-member club had to dismantle the car and take it apart to literally the last screw. The reconstruction took them two years, and the vehicle is now in perfect condition.
Simeon is a car collector, but originally he did not plan to get involved in army equipment, he said.
"I started collecting utility vehicles, but the younger people in the club later encouraged me to start collecting military technology, too," he said.
They have reconstructed half a dozen vehicles, and now another splendid piece is waiting for their attention.
"In England, we acquired the GMC DUKW 353 landing vehicle over the internet," Simeon said. "It is 10 metres long, has three axles, and is in such a poor state that it will take at least two years to drive again."
Sahara 2007 brought together vintage military four-wheel and track vehicles. It was organised by the Slovak Club of Historical Army Vehicles Bratislava, in cooperation with the Slovak Defence Ministry, for the fourth time.
The event drew hundreds of motorbikes, trucks, armoured personnel carriers and tanks to the Záhorie firing range of the Military Technological and Testing Institute, near Senica.
More than 500 military history enthusiasts came in uniform, mainly of Russian, German and American soldiers. They came from Slovakia and the Czech Republic, and also from Austria, Hungary and Poland.
Several thousand visitors could see displays of historical technology. There was also a re-creation of a conflict between Soviet and German infantry, which were both supported by armoured equipment. On the vast, sandy terrain (thus the name Sahara), mortar grenades exploded, tank fire roared, machine guns barked, and the air was constantly thick with the smoke from the hit vehicles.

Pavol Vitko, editor-in-chief of the Obrana military magazine

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