Watching Limonadovy Joe a few months ago I found myself wondering where those canyons were. It looked like the Czech Grand Canyon! Little Amerika?
Could it really have been filmed in the Czech Republic? I know that Barrandov studios did a great job building a town from the old American Wild West, but what about those canyons?
Well, it turns out that there is a ‘Big America’, ‘Little America’ and ‘Mexiko’ are located very close to Karlštejn Castle which is only 29 kilometers (or 18 miles) away from Prague.
When I asked my parents about it, mom said she went swimming there a few times and my father said he went there all of the time – swimming, camping and tramping. But both told me there were lots of mishaps and accidents.
Perhaps this is because the beautiful ‘natural wonder’ of a place is actually an old huge limestone quarry.
For those of you who don’t know, a quarry is any large pit dug into the ground from which rocks are mined to be used in any number of ways, usually building materials.
Therefore, a limestone quarry would be a quarry dug solely for mining limestone. The Google earth photos show the truth about the magic and mystery of this place…
The use of limestone in Bohemia can be traced all the way back to the Iron Age. The popularity of using limestone in architecture made interest grow, especially since the time of John of Luxembourg and Charles IV. At first it was a basic construction material and then it moved on to plaster and stucco. But this is when stones were carried from rocky outcrops.
The actual mining of limestone happened when blast furnaces were invented and steelworks companies gained interest.
The first mining permit for this specific area Morin was obtained on December 4, 1890 and mining began in 1891. In 1889, the Prague Iron Company purchased the permit and began to drill manually. In 1908, pneumatic drilling mechanisms began to be used.
In 1930 the construction of a more modern mining plant began and they were now also crushing and sorting the aggregates.
During the second half of WWII numerous projects expanded the area and they built a railway from the Morin to Hostim quarries.
In 1945 the mines and quarries were nationalized and all incorporated into the national company Central Bohemian Coal and Iron-ore Mines in Kladno. The mining in this area stopped in 1963 and all mining activity from this locale was moved to Cerince.
It now serves as a water reservoir.
Big America has also been called the Czech Grand Canyon and it is approx. 1/2 long, 1/4 mile wide and 100 meters deep. It also has an artificially created clear water lake which is 18 meters deep.
Nearby is also ‘Little America’. It is a smaller limestone quarry which is also flooded with crystal clear and inviting waters.
Both of the quarries are interconnected by underground tunnels, which are not accessible to the general public.
In between the two lies Mexico.
Apparently, there are 6 levels of tunneling systems which the nearby mines still use.
Which you can really see in this photo, taken on site…
At the bottom lie two interconnected lakes which have clear water which is what attracts the bathers, especially in the summer.
Research tells me that the gates are permanently closed, and you are trespassing and breaking the law if you go there, but based on some very current videos and photos I found, people still use it as a place to go and see “America”.
They climb down the rocks and many people still get hurt doing so.
Driving on the road leading from the village of Morina (from Karlštejna) to the village Kozolupy (towards Prague) there is a place where you can safely view the quarry from an observation deck which is located at a parking lot near the site.
A popular site for film, the movies Limonádový Joe and Akumulátor were filmed there.
Again, the areas are closed. It is private property owned by Lomy Morina spol. s.r.o., and you are trespassing if you go there.
This means no camping, swimming, fishing or diving.
The penalty is a fine of 15,000 CZK.
The summit is unstable and there is risk of injury.
There are some exceptions and it’s recommended you contact the quarries for permission and several sites exist that have actually published maps of the entire area. Apparently, these are from old tramping guidebooks..
There is an entire collection of like maps at this link.
Don’t believe that this area is man made?
Perhaps these historic photos from the area will convince you, after all, seeing is believing!
It’s also a known fact that the area around the quarries America is literally riddled with myths and legends.
The most famous tells of a nightmarish specter of a German SS uniform named Hans Hagen, who suddenly emerges from the table, turn in them without a trace lost and has been responsible for a series of mysterious deaths and disappearances.
Apparently you can summon Hagen in an underground mining exhibition located in an old mineshaft in Solvayových quarries.
Not something I’d want to do!
Again, you are trespassing if you go there – but what a place to visit!