Sunday, November 6, 2016

Bridges of Lyon, France: Pont Lafayette across the Rhone River

September 2016 (45.7636, 4.8397) Pont Lafayette
Continuing downstream past the Passerelle du College is a second Rhone River crossing that survived WWII (although the center span was destroyed and rebuilt in 1946). A second bomb was found under the bridge in 2014.
The Pont Lafayette was named after a military hero in France and in the United States who was instrumental in winning the American War of Independence. With George Washington he laid siege to General Cornwallis' troops in Yorktown and forced his surrender. In 1829 Lafayette crossed the Rhone (on an earlier bridge at this site) and it was renamed in his honor. At his death the U.S. government brought soil from Yorktown to place on his grave.
The current Pont Lafayette was built in 1890 to replace an aged structure. It's a three span metal arch. The stone piers are decorated with sculptures representing the Rhone and Saone Rivers (reproductions of sculptures found at the Place Bellecour). The Saone is represented as a woman resting on a sedate lion and the Rhone is represented by a warrior leaning against a roaring lion (by Nicolas and Guilaume Coustou).  The ornate exterior arches are decorated with fluted columns adding to the bridge's neo-classical appearance. The mauve and aquamarine colors seem very French.
The bottom flange is attached to the arch (and attached to the cross-bracing) with rivets. Similar to the Vasabron Bridge, which was discussed in a recent Happy Pontist Blog, this bridge was most likely fashioned out of wrought iron. The first steel bridge was the Eads Bridge in Saint Louis, Missouri that was built in 1874, 14 years before this bridge was constructed. However, it's possible that the middle span was rebuilt after the war using steel.
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