Sauerland Maps and Facts

Map of Germany's States with approximate locations of
the Sauerland (S), Cologne (C) and Frankfurt (F)

The region in Westphalia called the Sauerland is the ancestral home of the Grobbel clan. The Grobbel ancestral farm was located near the town of Schmallenberg. According to the Encyclopedia Britannica, the name Sauerland (meaning "bitter or difficult land") is likely derived from the fierce resistance exhibited by its Saxon inhabitants against Charlemagne and the Franks, but it may also refer to its relatively poor soil and often rugged hilly terrain.

A Sauerland tourism web site suggests that when Charlemagne marched through the Sauerland with his soldiers and the landscape started to get flatter again, he is reported to have said: "Dies war mir ein surer Land" ("to me, this was a difficult land"). A lot of different stories are told and written about the origins of the name Sauerland, but the Charlemagne attribution may be the closest to the truth. In Plattdeutsch (the Low German/Low Saxon language traditionally spoken in the Sauerland and areas to the north), the expression "sur " means "difficult" and this area is called "Suerland". In any case, despite what the sound of the name implies to English speakers, this does not mean that its inhabitants are "sour" - to the contrary, the people from the Sauerland are down to earth, merry and courteous people.

This map shows the Schmallenberg area of the Sauerland relative to the Autobahn system. The A4 links the region with Köln (Cologne - which is 65 miles to the west); the A45 is the route to and from Frankfurt (120 miles to the south).

The 4 counties in the Sauerland

|-----------| = about 12 Miles

This map shows the four Kreis (counties) that make up the Sauerland. The Sauerland region is about 45 miles across from Brilon in the east to Lüdenscheid in the west and about 40 miles across from Soest in the north to Olpe in the south. The Sauerland is known as "Das Land der tausend Berge" (The Land of a Thousand Mountains). There are actually 2,711 peaks in the region, increasing in height as you proceed to the south and east portions of the Sauerland. The highest peaks along the southerly border of the Sauerland make up the Rothaargebirge (red-hair mountains) range and are 740 to 840 meters (2,400 to 2,730 feet) above sea level. The hills near Winterberg comprise the largest group of ski areas in Europe north of the Alps and include a refrigerated bobsled run.

The Grobbel ancestral family farm was located on the outskirts of the tiny village of Obringhausen, which is near the town of Schmallenberg. The Grobbel emigrants to the USA were born in Obringhausen, Lenne, Milchenbach and Cobbenrode, which are all located in the county of Hochsauerlandkreis.

The town of Warstein, midway between Soest and Brilon in Kreis Soest, is home to the Warsteiner Brauerei, which brews Warsteiner, the number one selling beer in Germany. The Sauerland is also home to two other prominent breweries:

  1. Veltins, which is located in the village of Grevenstein (about 5 miles northwest of Eslohe in Hochsauerlandkreis) and

  2. Krombacher, which is located in Krombach (about 5 miles east of Wenden in Kreis Olpe).

I can vouch for the fact that all three brewers make a fine pilsner (Warsteiner is also avaliable in the USA).

A large scale map that includes Schmallenberg, Obringhausen, Wormbach, Lenne and Cobbenrode. As an example of the scale of this map, Wormbach is 2 miles by car from Schmallenberg.

The village of Kückelheim shown on this map is not the birthplace of Maria Catherina Eickhoff, genannt Spot. She was born in the other town of the same name, which is located about 5 miles north of Cobbenrode (and is not shown on this map).

Above is a detailed hiking map showing Schmallenberg, Wormbach, Obringhausen and Mt. Wilzenberg (due north of Grafschaft). The land and buildings due north of the letter "g" in "Obringhsn." was the location of the Grobbel ancestral farm. The scale on this map can be determined by knowing that the word "Schmallenberg" measures 1.3 km (or 0.8 miles) from left to right.

Back to Sauerland Homepage Obringhausen

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Mike Grobbel
Last revised: 07 July 2004
URL for this page is: http://grobbel.org/genealogy/sauerland/trip/maps.htm