History & stories

The Black Riders

During the Counter-Reformation, a Salzburg archbishop sent a large army of mounted soldiers to force the Gosau population to abandon their heretical faith. However, the Gosau Protestants were warned of this impending danger.
In snow and ice, they fled across the frozen Vorderer Gosausee to find shelter at the head of the valley. The black riders followed them onto the ice sheet. 

The ice broke and the lake swallowed up the riders and their horses. Since then, small fish with black backs, the “Schwarzreiter”, have been swimming in Lake Gosau.

The legend of the Dachstein king

A long, long time ago, there where the Dachstein Glacier gleams in the sunlight today were extensive alpine pastures on which cattle found particularly tasty and nutritious grasses and herbs to graze. No wonder the dairymaids in the alpine huts had milk, butter and cheese in abundance, got cocky and began to squander all the wealth.

With stale cheese loaves, they laid a pavement from the largest hut down to the well trough. They plugged the gaps in the timber wall with sides of bacon; and with the delicious butter they greased their shoes! They poured the milk into vats and bathed in it. Yes, that's how these careless girls did it on the Dachsteinalmen! But if a weary wanderer or a poor beggar came along, their sinful extravagance immediately turned into the worst stinginess. With rude insults, they chased everyone who was looking for rest and refreshment on the alp out of the door. And if he didn't go away fast enough, the two vicious hut dogs were chased after him! One day a hungry guest came up to the alpine dairymaids, an old, gray man whose exhaustion after the long, steep ascent was clearly noticeable. He staggered to the house bank and modestly asked for a drink of milk and a piece of bread. But the pitiless maids showed no mercy! They yelled at him and told him to leave the hut with harsh words.

But lo and behold: in front of the horrified looks of the alpine dairymaids, the old man suddenly grew gigantic and cried out in a thunderous voice:

"You denied the Dachstein King a rest -
so in the future your belongings will be destroyed!
The snow covers you and pasture and herds
and never again shall it be snowy up here!"

When the mighty figure of the Dachstein King had vanished, dark clouds moved across the sky from all sides in no time at all and it began to snow – it snowed endlessly!
The cold that followed solidified the thick layer of snow; and with that all life was buried under eternal ice.

Only one of the girls, who had escaped from the alpine hut in mortal fear when the snow began to fall, reached the valley and told Gosau about the terrible revenge of the Dachstein King.

On particularly hot summer days, a milky-white stream still flows down from the ice field over rocks and boulders into the Gosau lakes. Then the people say: "The cursed alpine dairymaids are going to bathe again in the heat today!"

You ask, do they have to stay in their underground chambers forever?
Yes, you know: the people believe that they could be freed from the Dachstein King's curse! It would only take a young fellow who has never lied to climb the glacier with a black bull, a black dog and a black rooster. And if the bull roared three times, the dog barked three times and the rooster crowed three times, then the dairymaids would be saved. But will all of this ever happen?

Source: Legend treasure from the Salzkammergut, Iolanthe Hasslwander, Steyr 1981

energy from the water

Very few visitors to the Gosausee know that the Gosausee was dammed by around 12 m for better water use and more effective energy generation. In 1913, for example, the Gosau power plant was built by Energie AG, which draws its water directly from the Vorderer Gosausee, which is also used as a reservoir. With this water, around 2200 households are supplied with clean electricity every year.

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