For a long time – in fact, since 1993 – those in charge of the La Suzanne integration project have had a tourist railroad project in the pipeline, a project that has been refined over the years and, in particular, in the early 2000s, when the restoration of the Suzanne locomotive came to an end.
In the Forêt de Massonge, north-west of Bar-le-Duc, there were still some fine remains of the Varinot platform, most of which belonged to the State (ONF management). The temptation was great to reinstall a metric track to put Suzanne back on track and create a tourist railroad. And thus revive the old P’tit Meusien…
4.2 kilometers of the old track appeared to be available, and the ONF and a few private owners were not opposed to the project.
A positive feasibility study by PROTOURISME and a technical study by Rail’Consult showed that this dream could become reality…
As soon as the new association C.F.H.V.S. (Chemin de fer Historique de la Voie Sacrée) was created on November 23, 2009, everything possible was done to obtain the support of our institutional partners: the State, the Region, the Département, the Communauté de communes… Deciding on these took longer than expected, as it was only in 2013, after the donation of a plot of land for the station by a generous donor, Madame Deutsch-Leblanc, that the first work began.
The project – to run a historic monument at the head of a historic train on its historic route – is now a reality!
The departure point is at the foot of the Fédération district, and the terminus at the edge of the Massonge forest (Saint-Christophe, Vavincourt).
The technical building and ticket office, built by the Communauté d’Agglomération Meuse-Grand-Sud, are on the Bar-le-Duc side, while at the terminus, after crossing steep gorges, vertiginous embankments and magnificent beech and oak forests, there is an Adrian-style barrack designed to evoke the Great War.
This second stage was completed in 2021, and the line went into operation in July 2022.
Yes, because the CFHVS Board of Directors felt that the tourist train alone was not enough of an attraction, and that it was necessary to complement it with one or more types of entertainment to keep the non-railfan public longer.
So it was decided that all the volunteers would be dressed in 1900-era costumes to welcome the public. Short sketches about railway events in the 1900s will illustrate the daily life of our ancestors. We’ll be sure to welcome professional companies for the occasion.
The reconstruction of an Adrian barrack (model A) is planned and built at the line’s current terminus in Saint Christophe.
Other projects are sure to appear in the years to come.
For, in the longer term, it has been planned from the outset to create a place evoking Meuse inventors… The Meuse, a land of inventors, has a duty to honor its children, whose creative spirit has led to major technical advances (Pierre and Ernest Michaux and the pedal-powered velocipede, Nicolas Cugnot and the steam-powered fardier, Frédéric Dyckoff and the diesel engine, General Estienne and the tank…).
To revive the Meusien, the Varinot, to evoke its eminent role during the Great War and, above all, to see once again Suzanne’s plume of smoke floating over the Meuse countryside – what a beautiful dream!
A dream? No! No, a reality!
VICE-PRÉSIDENT AND SECRETARY
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Chemin de Fer Historique de la Voie Sacrée
55 Ter rue de Saint-Mihiel
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