The Gisclard Bridges, precursors of the large stayed girder bridges
Michel Wagner


 Part 2

Albert Gisclard was born in Nimes in 1844. ll is difficult to find documents concerning its biography, apart from polytechnician at 20 years, it engages in military Engineering where he will become commander.

Here he studies and conceives many types of bridges, likely to quickly replace works destroyed at the time of conflict : " While during the war of 1870-71, the repair of a bridge for railway always required about thirty days, one can ensure that the material which we have will make it possible to conclude same work in less than thirty hours... "
(bulletin of Arts and Trades of 1890)

 Document from the Ecole Polytechnique( S.ce  P.Cazenove)



 Photo used as a model for the memorial stone (sculptor Jean André Rixens)
Coll.Catherine Gisclard






Gateway Profile suspended military imagined by the commander Gisclard
( from the revue"La Nature" n° 908 du 25 octobre 1890)

Postcard from 1906

Since 1897, it continues its research in the private one and in 1900 it deposits a patent of suspension bridge allowing the passage of loads much heavier than on the traditionalsuspension bridges invented and built by Marc Seguin, then improved by Ferdinand Arnodin

 The cables are laid out there in a quite particular and more complex way; parts of smelting works are placed at their ends and their intersections, to form an indeformable system of triangles and polygons which can be calculated starting from the rules of statics and which confer on the unit the great rigidity which was missing with the suspension bridges of average and great range

 In order to be able to test the feasibility and the system effectiveness, it gives the licence of exclusive construction of it to the company Arnodin de Châteauneuf and it is Gaston Leinekugel Cocq which is charged to supervise the construction of the first bridges of the Gisclard type,
four bridges of average related in high Ogooué in Congo, of 1902 to 1907, and a footbridge to New Caledonia, the Marguerite footbridge at La Foa.

 Photo of a bridge of Haut-Ogoue in the course of assembly in Ets Arnodin ( coll.D.Leinekugel LeCocq)

Bridging a bridge in the Châteauneuf surLoire workshops  -Cliché Arnodin - Coll D.Chenot

Excerpt from the magazine "Le Génie Civil" of 27 August 1904 and plans of the bridge over the Massouro river

Bridge built  c. 1910 in the " Haut Ogooue" (Africa) - Postcard written  in 1931 (coll.MW)


The Bridge of La Foa in New Caledonia

This bridge was built en1909 to replace a wood bridge become obsolete. The choice was made on a metal suspension bridge which was to allow the passage of the cars, a bridge of the Gisclard type under licence of Arnodin construction was selected. Built, checked to the factories of the Châteauneuf-on-Loire, it then was transported, assembled then inaugurated on June 25, 1909.







Assembly in the Arnodin workshops of the La Foa bridge in New Caledonia. Range 50 meters - (Gisclard-Arnodin System) "
                     Postcard sent in December 1908







Its name, the" Marguerite footbridge" comes from the first name of the wife of the governor of New Caledonia, Marguerite Richard who cut the ribbon at the time of this inauguration. Length of 48m for a chaussee of 3m broad, it could support automobile overloads of 4t on two axles, Of the work of reinforcement completed into 1927 increased this load to 10 T.
Old Postcard
(Coll. M.W
Very worn out by weather and elements, and a new bridge in concrete having been put in service in 1989 to assure a traffic become problematic, the footbridge is threatened.

After its classification the 13 rd november1984, in the inventory of historic monuments, the Municipality and the Association Marguerite mobilize to protect it. A stamp is issued in 1985,



Timbre de 1985  et épreuve de luxe
Stamp from 1985 and official engraving
(Coll. M.W.)






Old postcard- J. Rache Ed. Nouméa

Postcard fdc (Coll. M.W.)

First day covers(  Coll. M.W.)

(  Coll. M.W.)

 The footpath become a real visual emblem for the municipality, it is repaired and used from 1997 in pedestrian and tourist purposes.
Postal stationary 2003
  (Coll. M.W.)

Following the recent photo Collection Association Marguerite, with kind permission

Postmark from 2002

A film festival is organized every year in La Foa, the image of the bridgeis used there in a recurring way:
Stamp from 2009

 Covers from 2009

Postal stationary from 2010


1910, the masterpiece of Albert Gisclard : the bridge of La Cassagne
The establishment of a railway line electric
( the famous Yellow Train), intended to cross Cerdagne, having been taken, and the project of line declared of public utility in 1903, Arnodin associated with Gisclard were required for the construction of a rigid suspension bridge on a section of the line connecting Villefranche-de-Conflent to Bourg-Madame.
Modern postcard (Coll. M.W.)


It was the ideal occasion to conclude an ambitious technical project drawn by Gisclard into 1896 which made it possible to apply its cabling system to works of long range and to carry out the first suspension bridge for railroad.
Postal stationery of 1981 published by the Railwaymen Philatelists
(Coll. M.W.)
Postal stationery from 2004 
(Coll. M.W.)


 This 873 tons and 253 m length metal bridge crosses the river Têt 80 m in height at an altitude of 1300m. It is supported by the pylons of two piles in masonry of 28 and 32 m high, separated by a distance from 151 m. The cables are manufactured according to the process with alternate torsion imagined by Arnodin.

The alternating twist cable, document and photo of a sample - (collMW) 










Elévation ,  Annales des Ponts & Chaussées -1913

Building of the Bridge

Utilisation of the "Riveuse Arnodin"- (Clinching engine)

Setting up a pylon and setting up the deck ( ( Revue le Génie civil n°1393 de février 1909)

 1908 - Building the bride...Poscard sent on 1913 (Coll. M.W.)
Building of the bridge  -
Photos on glass plates from the Arnodin Fund, (coll D.Chénot)

Construction of the bridge - postcard sent in 1913 and repro with cancel (Coll. M.W.)

The construction of this bridge has been very oddly, pictured on a non official stamp from Somalia, issued in 2003, old british vapor engine !!...
(Coll. M.W.)

Cover of a magazine, October 1928

Old postcards  
(Coll. M.W.)
ND Photo 1913

Ed Labouche

The building site will last three years and will be carried out under painful conditions but its success, perfect on the technological level, will end in a true drama on October 31, 1909 at the time of the tests of load and stability of the bridge.

The catastrophe of the  Paillat and the death of the Commander Gisclard.
 The Paillat' Viaduct,  old postcard Ed J .Fau 1910
(coll. M.W.)



The official tests began on october 19, 1909. Sunday October 31, 1909, a heavy convoy made up of several railcars and several flat cars heavily charged with rails was used for the last tests. After having crossed without problem the bridge, it was stopped and divided into two for a last passage, to go up towards Mount-Louis, the other to go down again the slope. On its board about fifteen people, workmen and engineers; the driver having noted a pressure drop in the compressed-air circuit of the brakes, starts the engine intended to fill the compressor; the workmen believing then at the beginning withdraw the holds without awaiting the order of startup, and in spite of the blocked brakes, the heavy convoy shakes, slips more and more quickly on the slope and runs off the line in a curve downwards, with the locality of Paillat. Six people are killed, of which the commander Gisclard and Jules Bezault, foreman of Arnodin, and director of work. Ferdinand Arnodin and Gaston Leinekugel Le Cocq are wounded with 7 other people...







old poscard Ed J .Fau 1910 (coll. M.W.)

Poscard sent in   1913 Ed Campistro Perpignan (coll. M.W.)

Photo  on glass plate- (
Arnodin Fund)


Envelope and commemorative postmark published for the 80 th birthday of the death of the Commander Gisclard
(Coll. M.W.)





Letter sent in 1962to Gaston Leinekugel Cocq, by Mr Lhériaud engineer of the drive hurt in the accident, explaining him the exact causes of the disaster
Sce Didier Leinekugel Le Cocq)

« …Il n’est pas exact que la pente de 60mm par mètre qui existe encore actuellement sur la ligne électrique de la Cerdagne ait  été la cause de l’accident survenu lors des essais au pont Gisclard, le 31 octobre1909.
L’Inspecteur général Lax était en effet très pressé de faire procéder aux essais de ce pont afin de pouvoir réceptionner  la ligne nouvelle afin d’en permettre la mise en service par la du Midi.
 L’accident est dû à la faute commise par un de mes agents électriciens du train qui a donné l’ordre à sers camarades de desserrer les freins de la rame qui devait  descendre votre beau-père, vous-même, etc. alors que j’attendais que le personnel qui avait procédé aux essais et mesures du pont ait terminé son travail.
 Je ne pouvais donner l’ordre de départ qu’après m’être assuré que tout le personnel avait regagné son poste et que les cales maintenant le train à l’arrêt n’avaient pas été retirées, que les freins à air comprimé étaient à même de fonctionner.
 Or l’électricien Calvo, dès qu’il me vit monter avec votre beau-père, que j’aidais à monter un appareil assez lourd, n’ayant reçu aucun ordre de ma part, me voyant dans la cabine de conduite dit à ses camarades d’enlever les cales et les entraves des roues, manœuvre que je n’aurais ordonnée qu’après m’être assuré que l’air comprimé, nécessaire au freinage était envoyé dans tous les wagons, mettant ainsi le convoi en état de sécurité, et après avoir moi-même pris ma place pour la conduite du train.
 C’est avec le plus grand étonnement que j’ai vu sous mes yeux  défiler les rochers, alors que je n’avais pas encore effectué les opérations préalables à la mise en route, et n’étais pas de ce fait parvenu à mon poste.
 Il n’était pas utile, comme l’a d’ailleurs justifié la conduite ultérieure des trains électriques de Cerdagne d’installer des freins électro- magnétiques… »

(Just After the disasyer -Photos on glass plate from the Arnodin'Fund (Coll. D.Chénot)

Ferdinand Arnodin looking at the debris of the train, and G. Leinekugel Le Cocq, showing where he jumped off the train

The official inauguration, envisaged on November 26,1909 was deferred to July 18, 1911

Opening of the bridge - Old postcards (Coll. M.W.)-Ed Labouche (Coll. M.W.)
Nb>> These two cards the first written and sent on 23 March 2010, were probably taken at the start of official practice at the end of which the disaster took place on October 31.

Les officiels au pont Gisclard-
The Officials on the bridge - Photo on glass plate from the Arnodin'Fund -Coll D.Chénot

The stela established on main road 116 overhanging the bridge was written as follows:

BORRALLO, CLERK TOULET, drivers of the Highways Departments
HUBERT, Section head of the State railways
BEZAULT, assembler Chief of the Arnodin company
Died in Service ordered with the Major GISCLARD
OCTOBER 31, 1909
Victims of the railway accident of Paillat
After the triumphal test of the Viaduct of Cassagne


 CommanderAlbert Gisclard,  memorial stone, scuplture from Jean André Rixens
( Photo: Michel Castillo for the "Conseil Général des Pyrénées Orientales")




Stela dedicated to Commander Gisclard - old postcard (Ed L.Vergès)(coll.MW)

memorail stone , Poscard  .Ed.Mar (coll MW)

The Bridge was classified historic building on April 29th of 1997, it is always in service...
Modern postcard (Iris Editions)

A stamp was issued in 2000, but showing another viaduct built by P. Sejourné

The bridge around 1960 -  Poscard Estel Edit.

 Photo L Chanteloup and  Ed Combier Macon

After the catastrophe of the bridge of LaCassagne, it was Gaston Leinekugel Cocq which took again the continuation of work concerning the bridges of the Gisclard type undertaken under Arnodin licence. In same time it wrote many publications and deposited patents which improved the coùt and the technicality of these works.



Gaston Leinekugel Le Cocq
Picture from the catalogue of the exhibition "de Fer et de Rêve"
(See also- Ponts Transbordeurs




In this way the bridge of Lapleau still called "Viaduct of the Black Rocks" or "Viaduct de La Roche-Taillade" was built by the "Arnodin company and associated" between 1911 and 1913 for the line of the tram connecting Tulle to Ussel.
Non adopted project ) Postcard sent in 1909, before the construction of the bridge (coll. MW) There is to note that on this "elevation", the system of cable corresponds to that of a traditional suspension bridge and not to the system imagined by Gisclard and improved by G.Leinekugel Cocq

Bridge of  Lapleau :  Elevation (Sce Magazine "Le génie Civil")

Construction of the bridge- old poscard (phot. A.Vialle) (coll.MW)

Photo from an  article of" la Vie du Rail "de juillet 1980 and postcard - J Mavier  Photo Edit.

Building the bridge, poscard sent in 1911
(J. Mavier phot Ed.)(coll.MW)

The bridge of Lapleau was built according to a process similar to that of the bridge of La Cassagne, by the company Arnodin and associates between 1911 and 1913 for the line of the tram connecting Tulle to Ussel. It was inaugurated by the President of the Republic Raymond Pointcarré, September 11, 1913. This viaduct crosses the valley of Luzège using a 140 m length span supported by two piles in masonry of 45 m, on an overall length of 170m, 92 m with the top of the river. The line was closed in 1959, the bridge was then transformed into road-bridge for secondary road D89E until 1982. The bridge is classified today and closed with any circulation, it is the only bridge of this type to have preserved its aspect of origin.
Charging tests - Postcards (A.Vialle photo)

The presidential train of the 11 09 1913 - Old postcard ( coll MW)

Old postcards  (Coll. M.W)
Suspension attachment system

Postcard from 1916 (to note the presence of 2 workers on the cables, above, on the right)

Both ends of the Viaduc


Postal stationery (2004)?
NB - On this enveloppe is reproduced the erroneous "Cantal" name whereas the viaduct is well located in Corrèze.
error announced by Mr. Krempper)






Postal stationeries 2002 and 2005
(Coll. M.W.)

Cancellation- secap - 2005
(Coll. M.W.)

Stamp from "collector  Limousin" (2012)

Old postcard (Coll. M.W.)

Modern postcard from.1977 ( Photo Sully-Bort): railway disapeared.

Autorail Billard on the viaduct des Rochers noirs - Postcard (Photo Lepage - August 1959)

Cover of the magazine "La Vie du Rail" of July 1980

In 1913 also, another bridge was installed by modifying a suspension bridge,
bridge of Très Cassés close to Castelsarrasin (Tarn and the Garonne.) Today demolished it comprised 4 spans of approximately 61m each one, supporting a railway and a road way. It was transformed thereafter into bridge road.
Construction of the bridge   Photo on  glass, from " Arnodin'Fund"

Technical drawings of the bridge by Arnodin
(coll MW)





Elevation of a Pylon - Epure of Arnodin Workshops (coll MW) and Rey-A Postcard -Ed Castelsarrasin - (1916
(This type of pylon will be used for many other bridges
 -Ed A Rey- Castelsarrazin -(1916)











Old postards  - Labouche fr. Ed Toulouse

Ed Combier Macon et Photo E.Gilmt (1916) MontaubanPostcard sent on 1916 - Photo E.Gilmt Montauban

Postcard sent on 1922

Postcard sent on 1961  Lapie Ed. St Maur

Pont de Très-Cassès - Castelsarrasin - carte de 1955 Ed.Combier.
(Coll. M.W.)

Between 1912 and 1914 is built another Gisclard bridge in Bourret in the same department of the Tarn and the Garonne ,  also to replace a bridge suspension built in 1842 and demolished in 1910. It acts of a bridge with three spans, of 69, 65 and 52 m supporting a railway and a road way. Transformed into bridge road after the closing of the railway line, it is classified today, and no allowed for all means of circulation...

Buiding again the bridge, pictures on glass- Arnodin' fund - Coll Chénot

old poscard- Bourret bridge nearly Montech(82)
Postcard S   Achille Bouis Phot. Montauban 

Bridge of Bourret poscards
Ed Lapie St Maur

Ed Combier- Macon) (coll. MW)

Bridga of  Bourret ,
postal stationaries

Two other bridges roads will be built in Morocco, on the road of Chari, just at the time or will break up the 1st World War. This one will lead to important evolutions in the construction of the suspension bridges and that of the Gisclard bridges in particular.

Old postcard . Bridge at Mechra - Ben - Abbou_ Morocco
(Coll. M.W.)

With the war of 1914-18, Gaston Leinekugel LeCocq, hitherto charged to supervise the construction of the bridges of the Gisclard type is mobilized and affected with the construction and the rebuilding of the bridges to the back of the armies. Charged imagining and with setting up a simple and effective method to install bridges of the Pigeaud type, it will quickly develop a process of suspended footbridge intended to facilitate the installation of these bridges whose 152 specimens will be installed with its teams.
Construction of a bridge Pigeaud type by soldiers.
old postcard ( Coll. M.W.)
(Coll MW)

 Photography- Coll D.Leinekugel Le Cocq

 But the range of these bridges being limited to 30 m, it proposes the use of the Gisclard process for the construction of suspension bridges. Fifteen bridges of this type will be thus built with the assistance of the workshops Arnodin .

Bridges construction in  Châteauneuf  - Photographies on glass - Arnodin fund

Gisclard' bridges construction- old postcards
( Coll. M.W.)

Photocard sent in 1907

 But the range of these bridges being limited to 30 m, it proposes the use of the Gisclard process for the construction of suspension bridges. Fifteen bridges of this type will be thus built with the assistance of the workshops Arnodin .
Building Gisclard Bridge at Châteauneuf- Photos on glass plates "FondsArnodin"

These bridges are in the order of construction:

 Attichy 04/1915 -- 
(Oise - span 56m - 04/1915)
Jaux (Oise - span  82.30m- 02/1917)
Breuil/Vesle ( Marne - span  80m-03/1917)
Boran (Oise -span 70 m - 04/1918 )(see further)
Mareuil sur Ay (Marne -72.09m- 05 1918 )
Pont Ste Maxence (span  81.50 m - 05/18)
Verneuil ( span 70m - 08/1918)
Port à Binson
(span  75.50 m - 08/1918)

The first of them, the bridge of Attichy on Aisne with a span of 47.71m
Construction of the bridge- Picture from  "Fonds Arnodin"

Photo cards "Association for the Memory of Attichy  and it Canton", with their kind permission
and old postcard  ( Ed. Bourson -Compiegne)


Attichy bridge- old postcards
 (Coll. M.W.)

 Attichy Photos...

The second bridge, built in April 1915, the bridge at Creil, replacing a bridge destroyed by the genie in September 1914, will be the most photographed among all the bridges of this type built during this period ...
old postcards (Coll. M.W.)

Old photography

The Bridge at Jaux, is rebuilt in february 1917
Picture from 1917(Coll M.W.)

Postcard from
half of the XX century (Ed Lapie)There remains only the bridge piers...

The bridge actually, (Google Earth pict.)

In April 1918 the Boran Bridge(Oise) was built to replace a bridge built in 1841, destroyed by the Corps in 1914.
The first version of the eventfull history of this bridge after 1914, had a roadway made up of three elements assembled Pigeaud kind held by a simplified Gisclard' system.

The  bridge at Boran destroyed- Original painting on post card

This bridge
was rebuilt in 1927 (see part 2)

The bridge of  Boran, old postcard( Coll M.W.)

1917 March, reconstruction of the bridge at
Breuil sur Vesle- Marne

The bridge reconstruction in  Mareuil sur Ay was completed in May 1918 with a simplified suspension system. A wooden bridge built in 1915 to facilitate the transport of troops will remain for some time in parallel.
postcard- Phot. G.Franjou Ay  (Coll M.W.)

postcard sent in 1921-
V. Thuillier Ed. Epernay

The bridge of Ste Maxence, Oise,  will remain only 16 years, re - blown up to slow down the enemy at the beginning of the 2nd World War, as its predecessor, the wonderful bridge, built by Perronet  in 1785, destroyed in september 1914.
postcards from  1919 and 1923  (Coll. M.W.)

Bridge at  Port-à-Binson ,of 75.50m span was built in August 1918 to replace a suspension bridge destroyed in 1914
The bridge before the war water colour on card

 Bridge at Port à Binson - postcards,  from 1928  (Coll. M.W.)

 Bridge at Port à Binson - old postcards (Coll. M.W.)

Re-building of the bridge at Port-à-Binson
Old postcard/spictures sent between october and december1918 by a whitness to her family.     (Coll. M.W.)


Following- part 2