In the relatively inaccessible Black Forest valleys industrialization did not arrive until late in the day. In winter, many farmers made wooden cuckoo clocks to supplement their income. This developed in the 19th century into the precision engineering and watch industry, which boomed with the arrival of the railway in many of the Black Forest valleys. The initial disadvantage of their remote location, which led to the development of precision-engineered wooden handicrafts, became a competitive advantage because of their access to raw materials: timber from the forest and metal from the mines. As part of a structural support programme the Baden State Government founded the first clockmaking school in 1850 in Furtwangen to ensure that small artisans were given good training and thus better sales opportunities. Due to the increasing demand for mechanical devices, large companies such as Junghans and Kienzle became established. In the 20th century, the production of consumer electronics was developed by companies such as SABA, Dual and Becker. In the 1970s, the industry declined due to Far Eastern competition. Nevertheless, the Black Forest remains a centre for the metalworking industry and is home to many high-tech companies.
Since the start of industrialisation there have been numerous firms in Pforzheim that manufacture jewellery and work with precious metals and stones. There is also a goldsmith's school in Pforzheim.
There are many historic towns in the Black Forest. Popular tourist destinations include Baden-Baden, Freiburg, Calw (the birth town of Hermann Hesse), Gengenbach, Staufen, Schiltach, Haslach and Altensteig. 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, not the highest, but the most famous waterfalls in Germany; and the gorge of the River Wutach.
The Black Forest Open Air Museum 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 portrays the history of the clock industry and of watchmakers.
For drivers, the main route through the region is the fast A 5 (E35) motorway, but a variety of signposted scenic routes such as the Schwarzwaldhochstrae (60 km (37 mi), Baden-Baden to Freudenstadt), Schwarzwald Tlerstrae (100 km (62 mi), the Murg and Kinzig valleys) or Badische Weinstrae (Baden Wine Street, 160 km (99 mi), a wine route from Baden-Baden to Weil am Rhein) offers calmer driving along high roads. The last is a picturesque trip starting in the south of the Black Forest going north and includes numerous old wineries and tiny villages. Another, more specialized route is the German Clock Route, a circular route which traces the horological history of the region.
Due to the rich mining history dating from medieval times (the Black Forest was one of the most important mining regions of Europe circa 1100) there are many mines re-opened to the public. Such mines may be visited in the Kinzig valley, the Suggental, the Muenster valley, and around Todtmoos.
The Black Forest was visited on several occasions by Count Otto von Bismarck during his years as Prussian and later German chancellor (18621890). Allegedly, he especially was interested in the Triberg Waterfalls. There is now a monument in Triberg dedicated to Bismarck, who apparently enjoyed the tranquility of the region as an escape from his day-to-day political duties in Berlin.
The Black Forest featured in the philosophical development of Martin Heidegger. Heidegger wrote and edited some of his philosophical works in a small hut in the Black Forest, and would receive visitors there for walks, including his former pupil Hannah Arendt. This hut features explicitly in his essay Building, Dwelling, Thinking. His walks in the Black Forest are supposed to have inspired the title of his collection of essays Holzewege , translated as Off The Beaten Track .