Villey le sec
Villey le sec people also locally named the Trabecs, wish you a happy new year.

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Transformation of the Moselle valley

by Danièle URIOT

After the war of 1870, began a period of major works. It was the 3th republic.

This era brought about many changes...

As a consequence of the war of 1870, the Séré defensive system of rivers was installed on all the land borders of France, which earned us the construction of Fort Villey le Sec and its consequences for the town.

The French defeat in the war of 1870 and the annexation of Alsace and part of Lorraine (Treaty of Frankfurt) made it essential to open up the Vosges for river transport.

Collection Danièle URIOT

Travelers who wanted to come to Villey le sec, crossed the Moselle at the ford of Brifonvau. A boatman domiciled on the left bank of the river ensured the passage at high water by means of a basket.

In January 1770 several people drowned, the basket which transported them having poured because of the strong wind.

Collection Danièle URIOT

The fords of Brifonvau and Brocotte were used by farmers to bring hay from the meadows on the left bank to the village. These were the Breuil and Nau Guénolé meadows, which were part of the territory of Pierre la Treiche although they belonged entirely to the residents of Villey le Sec. They were ceded to the village of Villey le sec on February 16, 1874. In 1872, when it came to channeling the Moselle, a dam and a lock were the subject of a study on the territory of Villey le sec.

Faced with the impossibility of using the fords, the construction of a bridge became essential. The navigation services established a project which consisted of a work seated on the foundations of the dam. The price was 40,000 francs payable by the municipality. Heavy burden for a budget, even including the cession of land through which the canal was to pass, even freeing land where the access ramp to the bridge would be established. We were far from the mark. A 25-year loan had to be taken out.

Collection Danièle URIOT

On this map we see on the banks of the Moselle, the residents washing their laundry, which they have taken down with a dumpster.

We usually climbed back up.

Collection Danièle URIOT

In Villey le sec, a canal was drilled, a lock and a dam built.

Collection Danièle URIOT

This canal, now called Canal des Vosges, runs along the Moselle from Toul to Corre, links Lorraine to Franche-Comté. It is fed by small rivers such as the Côney or artificial reservoirs such as Lake Bouzey.

Collection Danièle URIOT

At Villey le sec in the valley was the needle and farmhouse type Poirée dam. The needle dam, created by the engineer Charles Antoine François Poirée in 1834, who was inspired by the old sluices, extended the system over the entire width of the course considerably improving river navigation. From the middle of the 19th century. The Poirée system consists of a curtain of planks placed vertically side by side barring the bed of the river. These planks or needles with a section of 8 to 10 cm and long from 2 to 4 m, depending on the dams, come to rest against a stopper (or knocker) of the raft (on the bottom) and on a metal footbridge made up of small farms. These trusses can be swiveled to collapse on the bottom in the event of a flood and allow free passage for water. The trusses are interconnected by a support bar which retains the needles and a meeting bar, in addition they constitute the maneuver bridge. The needles at their top have a shape that allows easy entry. However, it is tedious, long and dangerous work (it takes several hours and the work of several men to complete the task).

The whole, close to the guard gate which isolated the channel arm during the floods. On this islet, which was accessed by a small bridge, was the house of the dam operator of Paul Thouvenin and his family.

Collection Danièle URIOT

On June 27, 1815, the municipality asked the forestry administration for authorization to use the forest path located north of the Bishop’s forest, from the Brifauvaux ravine to the canton of Naux Géradé for the exploitation of the land. of this canton. The administration agrees, but this path will need to be maintained and a sum of 2 francs annually paid into the estate fund.

Collection Danièle URIOT

September 29, 1872:
Considering that the works planned for the canalization of the Moselle make impracticable the fords of Brifauvaux and Brocotte which alone give access to the meadows and to the lands that the residents have on the left bank of the Moselle whereas it seems possible to establish a bridge to the right of the dam which will be built at the bottom of the ford of Brifauvaux and that by using the foundations of the dam the bridge could be more economical, the council therefore requests the construction of this work. For this purpose, he offers to provide free of charge the communal land necessary for the establishment of access ramps, the value of which is not less than 25,000 francs.

January 29, 1873:
The digging of the canal will occupy an area of ​​4ha16a10ca on the territory of Villey. The navigation offers 30,000 francs which is fair. But the council has fears for the rest of the land both on the territory of Pierre and Sexey at the forges which belong to the residents of Villey. The area exploited by the municipality on the left bank amounts to 70 hectares for both the residents and the municipality.

The fords removed by the works, how could this exploitation take place?
The benevolent navigation engineers themselves admit this fact they have drawn up a project which would cost 45,000 francs.
There would therefore remain 15,000 francs to be paid. Maron and Messein have just received a subsidy of 5,000 francs from the general council Villey le sec is also asking for help.

February 1875 session: Besse and Legrand entrepreneurs canalisation of the Moselle when they extracted stones in the quarry at the bottom of the hill for the bridge over the dam raft occupied several parcels of the shared pâtis. It is therefore necessary to proceed with the payment of compensation. Sharing and drawing lots, namely the Saulcy meadow and the arable land of Tremblot, following the alienation of the land made by the municipality for navigation.

On August 14, 1877, the municipality pays the treasurer’s paymaster general of Meurthe et Moselle 6,000 francs as a contribution to the expenses necessary for the completion of the bridge and more than 500 francs as soon as its savings can allow it to complete the guardrail of the bridge.

On May 8, 1881, the municipal council expected that the main owners of the town of Villey le sec own meadows at a place called the Géradé ring, located on the other side of the canalized Moselle and in Chanteheux, that it is almost impossible to bring in their crops through the path of the Bishop’s wood and which is impracticable despite the repairs that have been made there and that moreover it is necessary to make a considerable detour, that since the construction of the dam, the passage that we had at the Goulotte, leading exactly to our two meadows, was removed by the raising of the water level, during the construction of the bridge, the works manager had promised to the path for the exploitation of these lands in 1879 and 1880, we was able to use the towpath but only during the hay season; asks for continued authorization of the towpath, committing to make the necessary repairs.

The commune at that time had 378 residents 112 households: 4 large owners who exploited a large part of the land, with the help of the winegrowers (62), who helped them in their tasks in return for the service rendered by the owners. There were also 14 lumberjacks and 7 farmers. All had to spend one day or another at the fords to exploit the meadows along the Moselle.

Along the Moselle we did our laundry and we hung out the laundry to dry on the meadows, we splashed in the water. The young people would gather for a lot of fun and play near the dam even hearing the screams of the dam owner who was not happy and who was afraid of an accident.

Jean-Pierre URIOT

The Moselle valley and its new bridge resumed its course and everyone got used to it, but a watering hole had to be built in the village because the banks of the Moselle had risen and the cattle could not no longer drink. And also rehabilitate the path down to the Moselle so that it is more passable.

The whole site has been redesigned, hollowed out, widened. These works had a detrimental effect on the well that supplied the village, which had to be rebuilt on the plateau. Well that had to be moved again in the alluvial plain adjoining the Moselle.

The East Branche-Sud canal which borrows for a reach between the lock of Villey and that of Neuves-Maisons, the developed course of the Moselle, allows in particular to go towards the Saône, then the Rhône.

One hundred years have passed since then, barges weighing 1300 tons have sailed up the Moselle. This place has completely disappeared to make way for current modern structures (large-gauge lock and segment dam). In December 1979, the barges were able to serve the factories of Neuves Maisons.

To achieve this, major works have been undertaken which have considerably modified the profile of the Moselle bed and changed the appearance of the valley. Via the Neuves-Maisons factory, or in the other direction towards Toul, it is also possible to join the Canal de la Marne au Rhin towards Paris or Strasbourg, or to go to the North, the Meuse and the Ardennes.

The water intake that supplied the village became unusable and was replaced by a well 120 meters deep drilled north of the path of courbevau at the top of the coast, which after many adventures was abandoned for drilling in the valley of the Moselle.

Where did the time spent working hard on dams in bad weather (ice or flood). To teams of 5 to 6 men working day and night, replaced by the electronic management of the dam ...

A 185 m long lock ensures a drop of 7.20 m with a cabin where all the control and signaling devices are located. In 1988 a micro-power plant was built as an extension of the dam.


Modernism has changed the old look of the valley, but it is still as beautiful as ever and a camping has set up shop enjoying this friendly landscape.