The story of "Le Meusien": Before the War


In 1865, the government of Napoleon III decided that the railroads of local interest would be implemented under the guidance of the general councils.

This decision was completed in 1880 by the Minister of Public Works, Mr. Charles de Saulces of Freycinet who specified that the departmental lines would have a spacing of 1 meter. It was in this context that the General Council of the Meuse devised a transport plan which was to crisscross the department.

The beginnings

la gare de ContrissonAs early as 1883, the first metric gauge line was made by Mr. Soulié, engineer in Paris and inaugurated in May. She ran from Haironville to Triaucourt through Revigny-sur-Ornain.

Contrisson station

It had been constructed economically, built along the roads, and borrowed existing works.

The CFIL fell quickly into bankruptcy and the exploitation was carried out by the General Council in control. The second line saw its completion in May 1887. It went from Bar-le-Duc to Clermont-en-Argonne with a ramp to reach Vaubécourt from Rembercourt-aux-Pots.

Its owner was Charles Varinot, a well-known railroad builder from all over Europe. The General Council entrusted him, on this occasion, with the exploitation of the Haironville-Triaucourt line.

Schéma du réseau Meusien avant guerreThe Meusienne Company

When he died in 1891, his sons-in-law took over and created the Meusian Railway Company with the help of two friends.

Diagram of the Meusian network before the war

They succeeded in lifting the veto the military opposed to establishing a metric line between Bar-le-Duc and Verdun. This line was inaugurated in 1895.

1912 saw the construction of an embryonic line which, starting from Vaux-Marie, was limited to Pierrefitte-sur-Aire. This line should have continued to Vigneulles-Lès-Hattonchâtel. Events decided otherwise ...

Another line was put into service in June 1914: the line of the Woëvre which connected Commercy to Montmédy.

A graft grafted to Vaux-devant-Damloup allowed to join the station Meusienne de Verdun. It belonged to the SGCFE, commonly called "The Economic Railways".

The equipment and the exploitation
La locomotive
The Compagnie Meusienne implemented about fifteen 030T, 031T or 021T locomotives, most often made by Corpet, then Corpet-Louvet. Some three hundred passenger cars and various wagons constituted the Company's fleet.

The trains were often mixed "goods-travelers" from which numerous maneuvers in all the stations to hang or unhook the wagons, which considerably lowered the commercial speed of the convoys (12 km / hour approximately).

In addition to travelers transported under Spartan conditions (no toilets, wooden benches, insufficient lighting, non-existent heating replaced by heaters), the bulk of the revenues of the Company were the result of the freight of goods, heavy materials, finished products.

The locomotive

The section of the line from Haironville to Revigny-sur-Ornain, for example, had been implemented at the request of the many industrialists of the Saulx Valley, who, in addition, had financed the port of Contrisson on the Canal de la Marne to the Rhine.

The railway was felt as a great progress by the Meusiens of the sector. The cars were frequented, of course, by people who traveled for their work: sales representatives, hawkers, foresters, peasant women going to sell their surplus production to markets in the nearest city.

Sunday was an opportunity for the youth to meet at the local balls, the votive festivals, the pilgrimage of Benoite-Vaux ... How many idylls were tied on this occasion in the carriages of Le Meusien?

The villagers also discovered the cities and their attractions, often envied the workers who seemed to have an easier life ... Or accused the Varinot of depopulating the countryside ...

Une photo d'époque devant la locomotive

The André locomotive

We were in the period that our ancestors called the "Belle Epoqu
e" ... But already, black clouds were accumulating on the horizon ... 1914 was fast approaching!

Discover part 2 : The War

Part 1

Part 2

Part 3

Before the War

The War

The decline


- Written by Jean Boucheré -