The International Steam Pages
Fort d'Uxegney, 2014
Thomas Kautzor writes:
Fort d’Uxegney (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fort_d'Uxegney), 6 km northwest of Epinal, is part of a a 43-kilometer line of defense of 16 major fortifications designed by Séré de Rivières on the pre-WWI French-German border. It was built between 1882 and 1884 and modernized in 1907. It did not see any action during WWI and along with neighboring Fort de Bois l’Abbé was later used as an ammunition depot. During WWII, it was one of the few forts not stripped by the Germans for scrap metal. The French Army used both forts until 1960, after which they were abandoned.
Since 1989, the “Association pour la Restauration du Fort d’Uxegney et de la Place d’Epinal” (ARUPFE, http://fort-uxegney.pagesperso-orange.fr/index.html), has restored and maintained both sites. Fort d’Uxegney can be visited between May and September, while Fort de Bois l’Abbé is only open to visitors on special occasions.
In the past few years, ARUPFE has rebuilt the 600 mm gauge railway which used to link the two forts together (1.3 km). This used to be part of the Epinal military railway network. They plan to start operating trains for visitors in 2015. They hope to acquire an ex-French Army Decauville 0-6-0T, as well as a smaller Decauville 0-4-0T for the railway. So far they have acquired three diesel locos and some rolling stock.
These two Cadoux four-wheel open coaches were obtained from the 5ème Régiment du Génie at Versailles-Matelots. Originally they operated at the Chemin de Fer de Saint-Eutrope in Evry (91).
The entrance of Fort de Bois l’Abbé, with the tip of the triangle in front.
Stored inside Fort de Bois l’Abbé are 0-4-0DH No. 7 (Diema DS90 2697/1964, 90 h.p.), a Péchôt flatcar and a bogie coach rebuilt from a standard gauge motor car and formerly based on the C.F. de la Vallée de l’Ouche (CFVO). The operational Diema was obtained from Voie Navigables de France (VNF) in 2006, it was formerly based at Niderviller and used for snow removal around and between the Niderviller and Arzviller tunnels. It has had part of its cab chopped off to enable it to operate through the tunnels. VNF obtained it from the German Navy in the 1990s, where it was formerly used at the Tannenhausen Ammunition Depot as No. 7, one of 18 locos of the same type built for the German Navy between 1960 and 1964. Locos of the same type were also exported to Angola, the Congo D.R. and Indonesia for use at sugar mills.
Five WWII artillery flat cars, which were retrieved from a Ligne Maginot fortification recently. The device in the back was the fort’s peace time toilet, to be used by all the enlisted men of the fort’s garrison.
The entrance to Fort d’Uxegney;
Stored inside Fort d’Uxegney were two Péchôt flat cars, a Decauville open wagon, the frame of a WDLR Pershing bogie wagon, a Deutz diesel and two more WWII artillery flat wagons. The rebuilt Deutz diesel was also obtained from VNF in 2006 and used to be based at Arzviller for use on maintenance trains through the Arzviller and Niderviller tunnels. At Uxegney it was used on works trains so far.
The recently-built railway depot outside Fort d’Uxegney will soon house all of the rolling stock. French Army Billard T75D diesel No. 57, formerly plinthed at Toul Arsenal, and which is on loan to ARUPFE, was also to be moved here shortly. It was stored at a private site at the time of my visit, but has to make way for the 0-6-0T.