Garabit viaduct

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search
Garabit Viaduct
Coordinates44°58′31″N 3°10′39″E / 44.97528°N 3.17750°E / 44.97528; 3.17750
Crossesriver Truyère
MaterialWrought iron
Total length565 m (1,854 ft)
Longest span165 m (541 ft)
ArchitectGustave Eiffel
Construction start1882
Construction end1884
Construction cost3,100,000 francs

The Garabit Viaduct (Viaduc de Garabit in French) is a railway arch bridge spanning the Truyère, near Ruynes-en-Margeride, Cantal, France, in the mountainous Massif Central region.

The bridge was constructed between 1882 and 1884 by Gustave Eiffel, with structural engineering by Maurice Koechlin,[1] and was opened in 1885. It is 565 m (1,854 ft) in length and has a principal arch of 165 m (541 ft) span.[2]


By the late 1870s, Eiffel & Cie, the company founded by Eiffel in partnership with Théophile Seyrig, had established a place among the leading French engineering companies. Between 1875 and 1877, the company had built the Maria Pia Bridge over the Douro at Porto, and when the construction of a railway between Marvejols and Neussargues, both in Cantal, was proposed, the work of constructing a viaduct to cross the Truyère was given to Eiffel without the usual process of competitive tendering. That was at the recommendation of the state engineers since the technical problems involved were similar to those of the Maria Pia Bridge. Indeed, it was Eiffel & Cie's success with that project that had led to the proposal for a viaduct at Garabit.[1]

Design and construction[edit]

The Garabit Viaduct, 2007, Cantal, Auvergne, France-1.jpg
Garabit viaduct by night (1 of 3).jpg

Opening with a single track in November 1885, the Garabit Viaduct was 565 m (1,854 ft) long and weighed 3,587 tonnes (3,530 long tons; 3,954 short tons). Even more impressively, the actual deflection (load displacement) was measured at 8 millimetres (0.315 in), just what had been calculated by Eiffel. At 124 m (407 ft) above the river, the bridge was the world's highest arch bridge when it was built.[3][4] The overall project cost was 3,100,000 francs.[5]

Until 11 September 2009, one regular passenger train each way passed daily over the viaduct: a Corail route from Clermont-Ferrand to Béziers. On that date, the viaduct closed after cracks were discovered in one of the foundation piles.[6] After a safety inspection, the Garabit viaduct reopened the following month, with a speed limit of 10 km/h (6 mph) for all traffic.[7]

The design uses a parabolic arch[8]

Viaduc de Garabit - La Truyère

In popular culture[edit]

In 1976, it was used to represent the condemned "Cassandra Crossing" bridge in the film The Cassandra Crossing.[9] In the film, the bridge is depicted as being unused and derelict for 30 or 40 years and is considered dangerous, to the extent that people living nearby moved away fearing it could collapse.

Here seen with a train.


  1. ^ a b Loyrette (1985), p. 77.
  2. ^ Loyrette (1985), p. 81.
  3. ^ Kurrer, Karl-Eugen (2008). The History of the Theory of Structures: From Arch Analysis to Computational Mechanics. Berlin: Ernst & Sohn. p. 46. ISBN 978-3-433-01838-5.
  4. ^ Harvie (2006), p. 52.
  5. ^ "Le Viaduc de Garabit". Archived from the original on 2012-05-08.
  6. ^ La Montagne. 12 September 2009. Missing or empty |title= (help); Missing or empty |url= (help)[full citation needed]
  7. ^ "140 camions en plus par jour (et des autocars TER) si la ligne des Causses ferme". La Montagne. 20 July 2014.
  8. ^ Weber, Jutta; Sigrist, Viktor (May 2009). "The Engineer's Aesthetics – Interrelations between Structural Engineering, Architecture and Art" (PDF). Proceedings of the Third International Congress on Construction History.
  9. ^ Billington (1983), p. 92.
  • Billington, David P. (1983). The Tower and the Bridge: The New Art of Structural Engineering. Princeton, New Jersey: Princeton University Press. ISBN 978-0-691-02393-9.
  • Harvie, David I. (2006). Eiffel: The Genius Who Reinvented Himself. Stroud, Gloucestershire: Sutton. ISBN 0-7509-3309-7.
  • Loyrette, Henri (1985). Gustave Eiffel. New York: Rizzoli. ISBN 0-8478-0631-6.

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 44°58′31″N 3°10′39″E / 44.97528°N 3.17750°E / 44.97528; 3.17750