KIVIÕLI ASH HILLS
Location: N59° 21` 48.4", E26° 57` 13.3" | Website: tuhamagi.ee/en
Kiviõli ash hills are actually not made of ash but of black semi-coke which is the residues of the process of coking oil shale for oil in the chemical factories at Kiviõli and Kohtla-Järve. The hills are situated in the north-west of Kohtla- Järve town. The height of an old semi-coke heap is 138 metres and the new one is 135 metres high. Oil shale is the most important of mineral resources in Estonia. The legend of discovering oil shale tells a story of an old farmer who used oil shale to build the stove in his sauna. When he started heating the sauna, his stove burnt down together with the firewood.
The scientists were interested in the oil shale already at the end of 18th century. Estonia's oil shale was created 450 to 460 million years ago by algae deposited at the bottom of the sea. To distinguish it from the others, it is also called kukersite. It was named after the German name of the Kukruse manor where the thickest layers of kukersite were found by the Russian paleobotanist Mikhail Zalessky. During the World War I 22 wagons full of oil shale were sent from Kohtla- Järve to St. Petersburg to be analysed. The results fulfilled the expectations and the mining started in Pavandu, Kukruse and Järve villages. At the time of Estonian Republic the special department of oil shale was founded in the ministry. In 1920 the mine was established in Kukruse and a year late the chemical industry in Kiviõli. Together with the development of oil shale industry the formation of semi-coke heaps began. The waste heap was closed in 1967 because it released toxic waste into ground water. The hill became 90 years old in 2012 weighing 6.2 million tonnes. Today the factories produce annually 18 tonnes of oil shale in average. Probably it is interesting to know that a tiny drop of shale oil is also included amongst the ingredients of the French perfume Chanel No. 5.
At the beginning of 21st century the environmental studies were held on the ash hill in order to find out whether the place is suitable for establishing an adventure park there. The Adventure centre was opened in 2013. Within 12 years the centre was built to offer different facilities for adventure tourists and adrenaline addicts: downhill skiing in Estonia's longest Alpine skiing slopes up to 700 metres; snowboarding in the largest snowboarding park in the Baltic countries with three difficulty levels; snow tubing run; the hill car course where the car is equipped with a safety frame, sport seat, steering wheel and brakes, which is carried up the hill with a ski lift and its downhill speed will depend on the skills of the driver; Estonia's longest zip-line (600 metres) where speed can reach up to 80 km/h; a safari ride with buggies; a downhill course for bicycles designed for hard-core adrenaline addicts; possibility to use bike or ATV to test the skills on Estonia's fastest motocross track with the steepest drop (26 metres). This is where the Sidecar World Championship is annually held. In addition to that, there is a 2.5 km health track running around the hill.