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The Black Forest
The Black Forest (German Schwarzwald) is a wooded mountain range in Baden-Württemberg, southwestern Germany. It is bordered by the Rhine valley to the west and south. The highest peak is the Feldberg with an elevation of 1,493 meters (4,898 feet). The name Black Forest comes from the general dark color of the numerous pine trees that grow in this region. The Black Forest gateau originated from this region.
Geologically, the Black Forest consists of a cover of sandstone on top of a core of gneiss. During the last ice age, the Würm glaciation, the Black Forest was covered by glaciers; several cirques such as the Mummelsee are remains of this period.
Rivers originating in the Black Forest include Danube, Enz, Kinzig (Baden-Württemberg), Murg, Neckar, and Rench. The Black Forest is part of the continental divide between the Atlantic Ocean watershed (drained by the Rhine) and the Black Sea watershed (drained by the Danube).
Administratively, the Black Forest belongs to the following counties; in the north: Enzkreis, Pforzheim, Rastatt, and Calw; in the middle: Freudenstadt, Ortenaukreis, and Rottweil; in the south: Emmendingen, Schwarzwald-Baar, Breisgau-Hochschwarzwald, Lörrach, and Waldshut.
The forest mostly consists of firs; the main industry is tourism. Dialects spoken are Alemannic and Swabian.
This forest has suffered serious damage from acid rain and is only a fraction of the size it used to be; however, the storm Lothar knocked down hundreds of acres of mountaintops in 1999, leaving some of the high peaks and scenic hills bare, with only primary growth shrubs and young fir trees.
Many people say that they call it the black forest mountains because when on the mountain, in the wooded areas, it seems dark from the shadows of all the trees.
The cities of Freiburg and Baden-Baden are popular tourist destinations on the western edge of the Black Forest; towns in the forest include Bad Herrenalb, Baiersbronn, Freudenstadt, Gengenbach, Schramberg, Staufen, Titisee-Neustadt, and Wolfach. Other popular destinations include such mountains as the Feldberg, the Belchen, the Kandel, and the Schauinsland; the Titisee and Schluchsee lakes; the All Saints Waterfalls; the Triberg Waterfalls, the highest waterfalls in Germany; and the gorge of the Wutach River.
The Vogtsbauernhöfe is an open-air museum that shows the life of 16th or 17th century farmers in the region, featuring a number of reconstructed Black Forest farms. The German Clock Museum in Furtwangen shows the history of the clock industry and of watchmakers.
The Black Forest is known for its cuckoo clocks, and for Black Forest gateau.