Black Forest (Ger. Schwarzwald; anc. Silva Marciana, the S. W. branch of the Her-cynian forest), a range of woody mountains in the S. W. part of Germany, traversing Baden and Wiirtemberg, and forming the eastern boundary of a portion of the basin of the Rhine, the corresponding western being formed by the Vosges. It extends about 90 m. in length, almost parallel with the course of the Rhine, from which it is distant in many places less than 20 m., and has a breadth in its south-era part of about 30 m., and in its northern part of about 18. The Black Forest consists of elevated plains or table land, and describes itself upon the horizon in regular undulating lines. Its greatest elevation is near and to the east of Freiburg, in the region where the Wiesen takes its rise, and where is the famous defile called Holle, a narrow valley surrounded by lofty mountains, and celebrated in the retreat of Moreau in 1796. The highest summits of the range, the Feldberg, the Belchen, and the Kandel, are between 4,000 and 5,000 ft. above the level of the sea. The descent of the Black Forest toward the Rhine is very abrupt, causing the rivers which take their rise on this side, the Murg, Kinzig, and Elz, to assume during the rains the character of torrents.
The eastern slope is very gentle, and gives rise to the Neckar and the Danube, the former soon changing its direction to the north and west, and joining the Rhine. The Black Forest is composed mainly of granite, though the surface is in some places covered with sandstone, and gneiss appears around its base. On some of the heights porphyry is found, and there are many mines of silver, copper, iron, lead, and cobalt. Its mineral waters too, especially those of Baden and Wildbad, are very famous. The summits of the Black Forest are during eight months of the year covered with snow; they are generally destitute of trees, and except during the greatest heats of summer display no verdure. Descending from the top, the first trees that appear are the pine, the beech, and the maple; these are succeeded by the dense forests of fir with which all the middle and lower parts of the mountains are covered, and which furnish masts and timber for ships. Near the foot of the mountains are many picturesque valleys, of which that of the Murg, situated near the thermal waters of Baden, is particularly distinguished for its natural beauty. Villages and hamlets are interspersed, and the inhabitants are mainly engaged in rearing live stock, and in the manufacture of toys.
The most famous of these articles is the wooden clock, of which it is estimated that 180,000 are annually produced. Agriculture is there of little importance, the soil being unfruitful and the climate severe, yet the valleys produce excellent fruit. The Black Forest abounds in historical remains and associations.