Since I’ve been terribly busy recently both at work and with several urbex projects / explorations it sadly has to be a short article this week; a location that took me just a couple of minutes to shoot, actually – the Kurhaus Sand (or Hotel Sand).
When I went on vacation to Germany in summer this year I met up with a kindergarten friend of mine, Nina. She became a regular reader of this blog and was eager to explore with me, so I planned a daytrip to the Schwarzwald (Black Forest) area of Germany. I had several leads there and thanks to an early start we managed to visit 7 (!) different locations on one day – possible only because some of them weren’t accessible; one of them being the Kurhaus Sand. Strangely enough a name that works both in English and German, but since kurhaus isn’t nearly as common as kindergarten let me give you a quick translation: health resort.
And that’s basically what the Kurhaus Sand was – a health resort in one of Germany’s most beautiful regions, the Black Forest. Not much more than a couple of houses in the middle of nowhere, Sand isn’t even a village. Its origin though is the now abandoned kurhaus. Around 1845 a mountain shelter was build on sandy soil (hence the name Sand, which means sand… Captain Obvious strikes again!) as a refugee for forestry workers. A couple of years later somebody started to sell beverages, with little success (the hut was subsidized by the city…), but after some state investments in 1874 the hut was turned into an inn under the direction of the retired country constable Josef Martin Weis at the age of 57. The place became more and more popular amongst hikers and in 1884 the previous head chef August Maier became the new tenant. In the early 1890s Maier bought, enlarged and enhanced the inn and re-opened it as the Kurhaus Sand in the presence of Frederick II, Grand Duke of Baden – the last Grand Duke of Baden. The area continued to thrive, so around 1920 a gas station was added, in 1930 a post office opened and in 1936 a police station started its service. During those days the ownership of the Kurhaus Sand changed several times, but I’ll spare you the details.
Nowadays all of these installations are closed. Only the 1949 opened Bergwaldhütte (Mountain Forest Hut), a convalescent home for children and later for policemen, is still in business – offering food and drinks for all travelers coming through on the popular Schwarzwaldhochstraße (Black Forest High Street).
When Nina and I drove up to the Kurhaus Sand we were forced to stay inside the car for a couple of minutes as a cloudburst made it impossible to start our exploration right away. When we were finally able to get close we were still not sure if the Kurhaus Sand was really abandoned or not as the place isn’t really popular amongst German urban explorers. The building was in pretty good condition, but since there was no activity during a time that is considered the busiest vacation time in Germany it must have been abandoned… We were able to walk around the building clockwise once – no signs of anybody, no signs of vandalism, but also no way to enter the building…
It wasn’t until my return to Japan that I found out that a family named Wiedemann were the owners of the Kurhaus Sand from the 1930s on. In 1977 Günter Milz took over and turned the place into a popular destination for day trippers – he modernized the hotel part (baths, elevator, …) and his restaurant became famous for the cuisine of Baden; like Flädlesuppe, Käsespätzle, Maultaschen and Schupfnudeln. Milz retired in 1994, but I couldn’t find any information about the almost 20 years since then. Given the decent condition the Kurhaus Sand is still in it must have been opened for business for another couple of years, but who knows? Thanks to its remote condition hardly anybody would go there just to vandalize it… Luckily there are many local historians in Germany – maybe one of them finds this article and can add some information?