Garabit viaduct

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Garabit Viaduct
Coordinates 44°58′31″N 3°10′39″E / 44.97528°N 3.17750°E / 44.97528; 3.17750
Carries railway
Crosses river Truyère
Material Wrought iron
Total length 565 m (1,854 ft)
Longest span 165 m (541 ft)
Architect Gustave Eiffel
Construction start 1882
Construction end 1884
Construction cost 3,100,000 francs

The Garabit Viaduct (Viaduc de Garabit in French) is a railway arch bridge spanning the River 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 end of the 1870s Eiffel & Cie, the company formed by Gustave Eiffel in partnership with Théophile Seyrig, had an established position among the leading French engineering companies. Between 1875 and 1877[3] the company had built the Maria Pia Bridge over the Douro at Porto, and when it was proposed to construct a railway between Marvejols and Neussargues in the Cantal department the work of constructing a viaduct to cross the River Truyère was given to Eiffel without the usual process of competitive tendering at the recommendation of the engineers of the state Highways Department since the technical problems involved were similar to those of the Maria Pia Bridge; indeed, it was Eiffel & Cie's success with this project that had led to the proposal for a viaduct at Garabit.[4]

Design and construction[edit]

The Garabit Viaduct, 2007, Cantal, Auvergne, France-1.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), a figure precisely that calculated by Eiffel. At 124 m (407 ft) above the river, the bridge was the world's highest when built.[5][6] The overall project cost was 3,100,000 francs.[7] Until 11 September 2009, one regular passenger train (in each direction) passed daily over the viaduc: a Corail route from Clermont-Ferrand to Béziers. On that date, the viaduct closed with cracks discovered in one of the foundation piles.[8] After a safety inspection, the Garabit viaduct reopened the next month with a speed limit of 10 km/h (6 mph) for all traffic.[9]

In popular culture[edit]

In 1976, it was used to represent the condemned "Cassandra Crossing" bridge in the film The Cassandra Crossing.[10] 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. ^ Loyrette 1985, p. 77
  2. ^ Loyrette 1985, p. 81
  3. ^ Maria Pia Bridge
  4. ^ Loyrette 1985, p. 77
  5. ^
  6. ^ Harvie 2006, p. 52
  7. ^ Le Viaduc de Garabit at
  8. ^ La Montagne, 12 September 2009
  9. ^ "140 camions en plus par jour (et des autocars TER) si la ligne des Causses ferme", La Montagne, 20 July 2014
  10. ^ Billington 1983, p. 92.


  • Billington, David P. The Tower and the Bridge: The New Art of Structural Engineering. Princeton, New Jersey: Princeton University Press, 1983. ISBN 978-0-691-02393-9.
  • Harvie, David I. Eiffel: The Genius Who Reinvented Himself. Stroud, Gloucestershire: Sutton, 2006 ISBN 0-7509-3309-7
  • Loyrette, Henri. Gustave Eiffel. New York: Rizzoli,1985 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