THURINGIAN FOREST (Thüringerwald), a range of hills in Germany, extending in an irregular line from the neighbourhood of Eisenach in the N.W. to the Lobensteiner Kulm on the Bavarian frontier on the S.E. On the S.E. it is continued directly by the Frankenwald Mountains to the Fichtelgebirge, while on the N.E. it approaches the Harz Mountains, and thus takes its place in the great Sudetic chain of central Germany. The length of the Thuringian chain is 70 m., and its breadth varies from 6 to 22 m. It nowhere rises into peaks, and only a few of its rounded summits reach 3000 ft.; the successive hills form a continuous comb; the north-west slopes are precipitous and seamed with winding gorges. This range encloses many charming valleys and glens; the most prominent feature of its scenery is formed by the forests, chiefly of pines and firs. The north-west part of the system is the loftier and the more densely wooded as well as the more beautiful; the highest summits here are the Grosser Beerberg (3225 ft.), Schneekopf (3203) and the Finsterberg (3104), all in the duchy of Gotha. The south-east part of the Thuringian Forest is the more populous and industrial; the chief summits are the Kieferle (2848 ft.), the Blessberg (2834 ft.), the Wurzelberg (2841 ft.) and the Wetzstein (2575 ft.). The crest of the Thuringian Forest, from the Werra to the Saale, is traversed by the Rennsteig or Rainsteig, a broad path of unknown antiquity, perhaps referred to in a letter of Pope Gregory III. dated 738. The name means probably "frontier-path"; and the path marks in fact the boundary between Thuringia and Franconia. It may be also regarded as 'part of the boundary line between north and south Germany, for dialect, customs, local names and costume are different on the two sides. The rocks are largely volcanic, the stratification being complex. The mineral resources have been nearly exhausted, but the district is an important centre of small industries (glassware, earthenware, meerschaum-ware, iron castings and toys being among its principal products) and a favourite resort for tourists.
See Regel, Thüringen, ein landeskundlicher Grundriss (Jena, 1897); Trinius, Thüringer Wanderbuch (8 vols., Minden, 1896-1902); Prescholdt, Der Thüringer Wald und seine nächste Umgebung, in Forschungen zur deutschen Landes- und Volkskunde, vol. v. (Stuttgart, 1891); Walther, Geologische Heimatskunde von Thüringen (Jena, 1906); and Meyer's Reisebuch, "Thüringen" (18th ed., Leipzig, 1906).
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