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L'américanisation en Europe au xxe siècle : économie, culture, politique. Volume 1

 | 
Isabelle Lescent-Giles
, 
Dominique Barjot
, 
Marc de Ferrière

Troisième partie. Une diffusion progressive

The Americanisation of France's public work firms: a case study of the Tignes dam

Denis Varaschin

Résumé

Après la Deuxième Guerre mondiale, pour retrouver la voie de la croissance, de la prospérité et de la grandeur, la France s'engagea dans une politique de modernisation qui privilégia l'hydroélectricité. La construction du barrage de Tignes, réalisée pour l'essentiel entre 1946 et 1953, à une époque où les entreprises de travaux publics nationales souffraient d'un déficit de productivité, symbolisa cette ambition renouvelée. Le plan Marshall offrit une part substantielle d'un financement exceptionnellement élevé. Avec le soutien d'EDF et l'habileté d'un jeune ingénieur de retour des États-Unis, Paul Montagné, le chantier se réorganisa sur une trame et avec des équipements lourds américains. De la sorte, il participa au mouvement de transfert de savoir-faire et d'organisation venus d'outreAtlantique. Toutefois, l'américanisation ne fut que partielle, confirmant au passage la diversité nationale des cheminements techniques.

Texte intégral

  • 1 Foreword of President Billiard, “Le barrage de Tignes”, Annales de l'Institut technique du bâtiment (...)
  • 2 D. Varaschin, Tignes. La naissance d'un géant, Arras, APU, 2002.

1Tignes was a small Alpine village erased from the map in the late 1940s by the building of a dam. The story of the human impact of this project is well documented, but has overshadowed the extraordinary know-how required to build a dam in such a craggy area.1 Scholars also failed to notice that this technological prowess relied on funds, technology and organisational techniques imported from the United States. In the immediate post-war years, France was seriously weakened by a combination of war and economic crisis. Elites were deeply worried about France's possible backwardness, not to say decadence. Fostering modernisation seemed to be the only way to growth, prosperity and national leadership.2

A NATIONAL PROJECT FINANCED BY THE MARSHALL PLAN

  • 3 Archives EDF Annecy, F. Combe, Historique du barrage de Tignes et de l'aménagement de l'Isère supér (...)

2Plans for building a dam at Tignes, in Savoie, began before the First World War. After the war, the Société lyonnaise des forces motrices du Rhône (SLFMR) and its subsidiary, the Société de la Haute-Isère (SHI), decided to restrict the size of the projected dam in order to avoid flooding Tignes, which was located upstream. On 5th October 1928, Haegelen, the Chief-engineer of Hydraulic Forces in the Southeast, voiced his opposition to this latter project and advocated the building of “a 60 meters high dam with a 50 millions cubic meters reservoir”. On 13th May 1929, a memo from the Ministry of Public Work officially endorsed “the plan to turn Tignes and its surrounding plain into a seasonal reservoir”. The memo went on to explain that high-volume dams were essential to sustain an interconnected power network. The Tignes dam had become a key national economic interest. “But the mood, both political and industrial, precluded such large-scale investments. Therefore, eminent domain was not claimed. Many people questioned the project, condemning the submersion of the village of Tignes as utopian. Tignards'stubborn opposition to the project was by now clear and policy-makers and local government officiais demurred”.3 The take-over in 1931 of SLFMR by Énergie industrielle (EI), a company that watched financial results closely, put the project to sleep.

3In the years that followed World War II, modernisation became a national priority for France. On 12th April 1946, the government’s Electricity Director, Roger Gaspard, asked SLFMR to relaunch the project without delay on behalf of the Minister of Industry, Marcel Paul. Tignes had become a key component of a wider electricity capacity-building program drawn up in 1945 by the Commission of Modernisation of Electricity. The Council of Modernisation and Equipment Plan (Monnet Plan) endorsed it in January 1947. It advocated rising production to 830 millions kW-hour for an average year. Regulating the production of plants located downstream in the Bas-Rhône would yield another 800 millions kWh. That additional power would be valuable and could be used during the winter’s peaks of consumption. France would gain a System to produce power on a national scale and could so almost at will. It would reduce oil and coal imports. When inaugurated in 1953, the Tignes reservoir accounted for half of all energy stocks in the Alps and a fourth of national capacity. The Tignes dam was heralded as a Symbol of France’s modernisation, of its self-sufficiency in energy matters and the democratisation of electricity consumption. Still, one question remained: did France have the means to carry out its plan?

  • 4 M. Bungener, “L'électricité et les trois premiers plans: une symbiose réussie”, De Monnet à Massé. (...)
  • 5 This difference is explained by the possible use of finishing works after 1953.
  • 6 G. Bossuat, “Les entreprises publiques dans le plan Marshall”, La nationalisation de l’électricité (...)
  • 7 -M. Margairaz, L'État, les finances et l'économie. Histoire d'une conversion, 1932-1952, Paris, Imp (...)

4Aware of potential problems, Monnet avoided the financing particulars in his plan.4 Électricité de France (EDF), which was very keen to build this dam, occulted all financing matters, even though estimates of its total cost were in excess of 55 billions francs (of 1950).5 Eventually, the project was financed thanks to Marshall aid and with the help of inflation6, since EDF was constrained by its limited financial resources (9 billions in 1952) and its inability to fix prices freely. This caused many problems and delays between October 1948 and April 1951, and then again from January 1952 to July 1957. EDF lacked equity and had earned itself a bad reputation with the banks because of its large outstanding loans. Most banks, including some nationalised ones, would not agree to new loans. From 1948 onward, State funding came in the form of thirtyyear old grants by the Modernisation and Equipment Fund, held in reserve by EDF. A law promulgated on 7th January 1948 awarded EDF some “Counter Value Marshall” (CVM). They were French francs used by French companies to buy American equipment with help from the Marshall Plan. Nearly a quarter of CVM went to the electric sector. From the end of 1948 to 1951, the CVM provided 165 billions francs, including 130 billions for hydroelectricity. It paid for a third of EDF's equipment and was a large part of its financing. Indeed, money was channelled into hydraulic programs because American help was given a posteriori and was proportional to ouday. Overall, CMV financed 40% of the cost of the Tignes dam between 1948 and 1951. Americans criticised the excessive final cost, though and considered France’s use of Marshall credits was wrong. This, together with the human cost of the project, accounts for America’s low profile during the dam’s inauguration on 4th July 1953.7

A BUILDING SITE UNDER AMERICAN INFLUENCE

  • 8 D. Barjot, “L'industrie française des travaux publics face à la reconstruction. L'impact du Plan Ma (...)

5The contract to build the dam was the most important in financial and technical terms. It was awarded to ENTI, the public work arm of the firm Entreprise Industrielle (EI). This choice did not corne as a total surprise: the firm had done some preliminary work for the project before the war. Pierre-Marie Durand, the company manager, had resigned with grace when faced with postwar nationalisation, taking care of his managerial interests through ENTI. At the request of the government, Pierre Simon was general manager at both ENTI and EDF. Nevertheless, many people were surprised by this choice: other corporations were technically better equipped to carry out such an exceptional work of civil engineering. This feeling was strengthened by the difficulties ENTI encountered at the outset of the project.8

  • 9 A. Ligouzat, “Le barrage de Tignes”, Annales de l'Institut technique du bâtiment et des travaux pub (...)

6The Tignes project followed a complex scheme organised around three units of production (Chevril, Les Brévières and Malgovert) and their water supply System. The Tignes dam was the centrepiece of the project. With its 229 millions of cubic meters, it became France’s largest reservoir. It was also the highest dam in Europe thanks to its fall of 181 meters and ranked just behind America’s Boulder and Shasta dams. But the thinking behind the project had more to do with the exceptional site opportunities and the possible use of new techniques than with a wish to demonstrate France’s strength to the rest of the world. André Ligouzat contended that “building the dam was not a challenge; had it been so, we would have been more humble in front of America’s engineering achievements, since they were taller and larger than ours”.9

  • 10 D. Barjot, “L'industrie française des travaux publics (1940-1945)”, HES, 3,1992, p. 415-436.

7The size of the building sites was the main obstacle together with its craggedness. Due to lack of funds and difficulties with processes and raw material, three years of preliminary work, from 1947 to 1949, were needed to divert the river Isère, create roads, build cities, open quarry, put up the main dam installations, excavate and concrete the lower part of the dam. The first stage had been based on pre-war plans and concepts used for medium size dams10 and quickly showed its limits. The second stage was delayed as the Chief-Engineer could not use EDF’s enormous resources. Concreting in 1950 produced disappointing results and the time the work was taking appeared to verify Tignards'belief that the project was doomed to failure. But after a decisive breakthrough in building methods, ENTI finally got on with the huge concreting task. In 1951, 306 000 cubic meters of concrete were poured into the dam, and 204 000 in the following year. Water was finally turned on 15th March 1952 and water filled the reservoir.

  • 11 Archives Coyne et Bellier (ACB). For example, letter of Coyne et Bellier to the Tennessee Valley Au (...)
  • 12 USBR, created in 1902, was connected with the Interior Department. He worked with western States (W (...)

8A network of companies and thousands of men were involved in the Tignes project. EDF, ENTI and Cony et Bellier took advice from their American counterparts, such as Paul A. Mounting.11 But the real hero of the project was Paul Montagne, the new manager of concreting work for ENTI. After getting a degree in hydraulic engineering from the Institut Polytechnique in Grenoble, he went to the US in 1948 for a year. His job as an intern with the United States Bureau of Reclamation (USBR) enabled him to study the organisation of this bureau at close range. It was responsible for studying, building and exploiting irrigation works for the Western States. Most were hydroelectric mills.12 At first, Mounting worked in laboratories located in Denver, but on 5th April 1948, he started a three-month tour of the sites and plants of USBR. He took advantage of that opportunity to study other companies, notably The Water District Supply of Los Angeles, The Pacific Gaz and Electric Company in San Francisco and The Department of Lighting in Seattle. A memo entitled Procédés modernes de fabrication des bétons aux USA, based on these observations, was published in 1949.

9Paul Montagné was hired by ENTI on 1st January 1949. He was sent to the Tignes site and started work in a laboratory. This enabled him to familiarise himself with the company and its work in progress. From the end of December 1950 to the middle of February 1951, he did some translation work during a technical mission in New Delhi (India) for the International Congress of Large Dams, chaired by Coyne. Back in Haute-Isère, he was appointed assistant-director of works, with a mandate to save concreting operations, which were not going well. Tignes was the most ambitious hydroelectric building site ENTI had ever undertaken and it had neither the know-how nor the equipment to carry it out. EDF expected quick results since it had provided ENTI with powerful American technology. ENTI took the risk of putting its trust in a 28year-old engineer. Montagné’s US experience and a sharp mind enabled him to successfully carry out his mission.

  • 13 P.-A. Montagné, “Tignes Dam in French Alps constructed with American equipment”, Civil Engineering,(...)
  • 14 According to “Tignes”, Houille Blanche, 1958, p. 19-20, it was the first time that the three work s (...)

10Time was running out. He decided to reorganise the building site and use the equipment in a way that would take human factors into account: “Since we used American-made equipment almost entirely, we had to use American methods of work”13. To make up for lost time, he raised the rates of production and reorganised concreting work from 1951 to 20th July 1952: three work stations operated during eight hours, in place of two operating for 9 to 10 hours previously. The working week went up to six and half days.14 At night, strong lighting provided better working conditions, which made for greater efficiency and greater security for employees. Montagné also tried to give more responsibilities to younger men. He found them more willing to change their working habits and to suggest improvements. Time study techniques were used to optimise production. From 1951, progress in concreting was systematically measured, taking into account both transport time and actual concreting.

  • 15 Similar observations had been made on other hydroelectric building-sites such as Bort (La Houille B (...)

11Results reflected the undeniable productivity rises in French building sites, thanks to the evolution of technology and management techniques15.

Tableau 1-P.A. Montagné, 11th March, 1953

Tableau 1-P.A. Montagné, 11th March, 1953
  • 16 “Une américanisation des entreprises?”, Entreprises et Histoire, 19, 1998.
  • 17 Rapport de fin de chantier (années 1951 à 1956). Aménagement de la Haute-Isère. Barrage de Tignes. (...)
  • 18 ACB, letter of the Mecanic and Electric Industries Director to the EDF Equipment Director, November (...)
  • 19 J.-P. Payan, “La chute des Brévières et le barrage de Tignes”, La Technique des Travaux, July-Augus (...)

12The Tignes building site paved the way for a more fruitful dialog between EDF and building contractors. EDF backed new approaches and techniques in the hope that they could be used on other building sites and largescale projects. It promoted innovation whichever form it took and undertook to spread American work organisation, technology and use of materials.16 In 1949, it launched a program of missions to the United States with the aim of making purchases and study productivity. It gave credit in foreign currencies and purchased direcdy the machines used by the companies working on the Tignes site.17 In 1947, France’s Industry Minister drew EDF’s attention “to the absolute necessity, in future, to redirect your purchases in favour of French constructors” and refused several imports.18 But France and Europe beyond it lacked the capacity to build heavy machinery. Besides, American product were more powerful, faster, safer and cheaper.19 Indeed, the number of machines used in Tignes, their hardiness and efficiency marked a watershed for civil engineering projects. They were also transformed by new management and planning methods.

13Transport was used in a different way. Railroad tracks were abandoned in favour of tracks on which American-fashioned dump trucks could run. Two Jeeps were bought for managers of the building site with Marshall Plan credits. American help also took other forms. Equipment was bought in America to carry out the 400 000 cubic meters’ worth of excavation: Bucyrus Erié 29T well drills, ingersoll-Rand pneumatic and wagon drills, P&H 1055 and Bucyrus diesel shovels, Dodge and Euclid trucks, Muir-Hill dumpers, Caterpillar angledozers D8 and motorgraders D12. In 1952, after the opening of the basin, a tugboat called Sea Mule served the La Laye quarry, enabling workers to clear material. Tests of alkaline reactions on quartzite that made the backing borrowed USBR’s methods. Finally, it followed advice from an American technician working on the site and changes the organisation of quarry extraction.

14Galleries benefited from more efficient means of attack and clearing. Excavations in full section were often used. It was called “heavy” method and used powerful equipment imported from the United States, such as Jumbo drilling carts, Ingersoll-Rand DA35 drills, Conway 75 shovels and above all Eimco 21 et 40, CPOAC and Press-Weld conveyors, Card-Iron or AustinWestern wagons, Johnny injection material and Cameron pumps. In organisational terms, the Fort Peck Dam Diversion (USBR) and the Delaware Aqueduct were the inspiration behind the driving of the gallery of Malgovert.

  • 20 The blondin cableways System appeared in 1834 (bridge of Tours). Forgotten in France, it developed (...)

15Open air work was also revolutionised by American machinery. This included Ingersoll-Rand Canadian compressors, Allis-Chalmers primary gyratory crushers, Kennedy secondary giratory crushers, Fuller-Kinyon pumps, Johnson batching and mixing plants with four Koehring-Winget 3-cubic-yard mixers. The Malgovert and Les Brévières plants received two Almacoa mixing plants. One can also mention Garbo buckets, two Lidgerwood 20-ton and one 10-ton blondin cableways20, Blaw-Knox Steel forms, Chicago Pneumatic electric vibrators and Allis-Chalmers vibrating screens.

16The concreting work strongly benefited from equipment and methods Montagné had seen in action in the United States. Control was centralised in a dispatching located on the Johnson tower, with a vantage point on the site. During his stays at the American dams of Bull Schoals, Kortes, Angostura and Hungry Horse, Montagné had analysed the air-entraining concrete whose components had been discovered in 1938. He understood that under certain conditions its use increased the concrete’s resistance to the cycles of frost-thaw, wetting-drying and heating-cooling. The concrete also became easier to work and allowed the use of rougher and unselected aggregates. But its biggest advantage was to decrease the volume of water and concrete, reducing in the process heat discharge and its consequences, such ass cracking during cooling. Montagne decided to use a mixture of 200 kilograms by cubic meter for the body of the dam and of 250 kilograms for its face. Many additives were used, including Darex (Dewey and Almy Chemical Company or Dewalco), a strong oil distillation against frost which improved workability. These choices, together with the weighting operation led to a real improvement of quality and regularity of concreting.

  • 21 Payan 1953: 21.
  • 22 It is worth criticizing concrete used in the Tignes dam since we have sought from the incipient st (...)
  • 23 During this trip made in 1952, Montagné was asked by Coyne, EDF and ENTI to explain the reasons of (...)
  • 24 Montagne 1952a: 25-28.

17The most noticed and controversial component was the 2.5inaggregate. The giant was an idol with feet of “cyclopean” concrete. This choice differed from American methods and enabled actual cernent savings of about 40 kilograms for a cubic meter. Nearly 45% of primary crushing was “mass concrete”, with squared stitches of 2-in or circular stitching of 2.5-in whose weight climaxed to 8 kilograms. The use of such an irregular concrete required a strong vibration: “We were very lucky to get the last American of Chicago Pneumatic electrical vibrator with changing of frequency... The role of this device is essential to the laying of big concrete with a controlled rhythm”.21 The choice of a discontinuous screen was suggested by André Coyne, who approved of the experimental aspect of the building site.22 Returning from an exciting trip to the United States23 and facing many difficulties on the building site, Montagné was doubtful about this latter choice and voiced his scepticism in Civil Engineering, an American review, in November 1952.24

  • 25 “Tignes” 1958: 72.

18But in spite of this minor disagreement, productivity rose spectacularly. After the reorganisation of 1951, the rhythm of concreting work reached levels “similar to American standards”,25 with only a slight difference accounted for by differences in the weight of the dam. American dams’concrete areas stood out more clearly and were easier to work out. Nevertheless, the rule of the two concreting a week used in Haute-Isère enabled the building site to fill this gap.

  • 26 Ménégoz, Montagn É1953: 1.

19Thanks to careful preparation, Tignes climaxed to 4 533 cubic meters on 7th July 1952, “the highest point in France, and probably in Europe”.26 Tignes was now a building site breaking new grounds for the future. The dam was systematically analysed in terms of compression and frost resistance. During studies, tests and Controls, systematic observations were made and yielded precious knowledge. They paved the way for a period of spectacular progress in concreting in terms of durability, impermeability, and workability.

Tableau 2-Concreting Rhythm (P.A. Montagné, March, 11th, 1953)

Tableau 2-Concreting Rhythm (P.A. Montagné, March, 11th, 1953)

A FRENCH AMERICANISATION?

  • 27 Payan 1953: 22.

20During that transitional period, the Americanisation of the building site was experimental. Yet, this Americanisation was not complete. Overall, imports of technology were limited and some were ill suited to the Tignes site. When construction began in 1947, facilities were built that could not be easily disposed of once they were found to be inefficient ands costly. One example was the cable tramway between Bourg-Saint-Maurice and Tignes. Time and time again, it was found that roads should have been preferred as a mean of transportation: “We have decided to build a continuous monocable aerial conveyor of 21 kilometres of the Monzies Co., whose cost seemed equivalent to road transport. But the cost of this monocable, with two sections of 15 kms turned out to be more expensive than had been expected”.27

21Similarly, the American method to bore large-size galleries proved ill adapted to the ground of the Tignes area and was less efficient than expected.

  • 28 “Tignes” 1958: 172.

22After the failures of classical attacks, in May 1947 and April 1949, a new organisation was adopted in March 1951 to open space between Windows 14 and 16 (1 400 meters). But again, engineers were disappointed: “While the quantity and quality of the equipment increased to a huge extent between 1948 and 1951, it was never possible to change the sequence of work: on a building site began under the sign of Jumbo, one can't, in economic and artistic terms, perfectly break down massive rock such as the Soliet. Contingency and the 1948 scheme actually imposed the methods that were adopted. Hence they should not be seen as technological models”.28 Nevertheless, the same authors agreed that American technology was not used to its full potential: in 1948, ENTI lacked the necessary equipment and used a cheaper but less resistant shore up framework.

23But the most important point is that engineers did not identify one best practice and borrowed technology, ideas and equipment from countries other than America. Indeed, in both the La Laye quarry and the site of the dam, big blocks were sometimes blasted by an English method that meant placing explosives on the rocks’surface. This method used more powder but required less preparatory work. Thanks to engineer’s pragmatism, British machinery such as Conway 60 shovels, Koehring-Winget cernent mixers coexisted with German equipment, including Heckel cable tramways from the Sarre and given in lieu of war damages. French technology featured Stem Dragon and Boyer installations, Monzies single-cable tramway; Moyse tractors and Marion, Lima, Nord-Est and Pinguely shovels as well as Blaw-Knox Steel frames made in France.

  • 29 Rapport de fin de chantier: 2.
  • 30 Payan 1953: 22-23.
  • 31 ACB, “Le béton du barrage de Tignes”, April 17th 1953.

24Finally, following a well-established tradition of hybridisation in imports of exogenous technique, American methods were “Frenchified”. American models were willingly adopted but also adapted to France’s culture, situation, economy and social System. This led to the creation of new Systems. For example, the blondin cableways were found to have major weaknesses after they had been put in place. Overheating, weakening and cable derailment were rife. “Blondin cableways of 20-tons arrived with American cable equipment and accidents occurred during use (a cable sliding on his driving pulley, leading to overlapping and unusual weakening; a cable leaving his pulley and breaking). The 1952 campaign confirmed that these cables were weakening fast in spite of having been changed many times already. An answer was found tapping into French know how. The Câbleries françaises was called in to provide better cables. Its first cables imitated American ones but were built differently in order to stick better”.29 Another version established a more consensual relationship, explaining that the weakness had been “erased by improvements carried out on the building site, and above all thanks to an American fitter expert who remained for safety reasons until concreting work was completed”.30 Similarly, the use of big aggregate was uncommon in the United States. American civil engineers only used 1-in and imported material was designed to use aggregate of 1.5-in. Inadequate directions led to Coyne’s bold experiments.31

  • 32 ACB, letter of Martin (Coyne et Bellier) to Francou (EDF), November 18th 1952.
  • 33 J.-H. Rousselle, “Traversée d'un banc de quartzites fluents et sous pression par la galerie de Malg (...)

25Americanisation did not mean an end of French innovations in civil engineering. The firm Études et travaux de fondations (ETFE), located in Toulouse, and his manager, Marius Galaup, did miracles in the most difficult part of the Malgovert gallery (technical injections). Some American engineers were interested and asked for documentation32. The Chief-engineer of Malgovert, Rousselle, was “convinced of the excellence of our experts and their superiority at an international level” and wished “that their co-operative structures would be able to give them the role they deserve in new countries, sometimes very far, where minds are sometimes more reluctant to the French spirit of creation”.33 The career of André Ligouzat, the director of REH Alpes 1 who controlled the construction of Tignes dam for EDF, and subsequently headed the Inspection générale pour la coopération hors métropole (IGECO) between 1962 and 1971, proves that France also exported men and technological know-how in engineering.

  • 34 Archives EDF Venthon, 389. Pictures in Ligouzat, 1953: 1 237-1 238.

26One must also stress that many national traditions resisted the blatant and ubiquitous Americanisation. French engineers enjoyed using experimental models. For example, they tested the next stages of the building of the dam (a model in cork at 1/125 made by the Laboratoire central des Ponts et Chaussées, another in hard rubber at 1/250 made by EDF),34 the flow of sewage (a smallscale model made by Neyrpic), the constraints of the dam at Les Brévières mill (four monolithic models at 1/50 undertook by the Laboratoire central des Ponts et Chaussées), the turbine wheels (small scale model at 1/5), the alternators of Malgovert and the lighting of headquarter of Les Brévières.

27On the whole, this evolution was not surprising. The Tignes project reflected the difficulties of technological transfers and the speed of their diffusion. It challenges the belief in the superiority of the first mover. The exceptional dynamism of French companies in the building industry after the reconstruction period leads us to refute this simplistic division between leader and followers. This is particularly so in mechanical and electrical engineering. France rebuilt its competitiveness by relying upon its internai market, the quality of its labour force and the ability of the electricity industry to accept change. France’s will to modernise combined with American aid to displace outdated technology. It produced a model of international relations which produced exchanges of technology rather than one-way imports. Technological transfers between industrialised countries and reciprocal training had been the norm for nearly two centuries and the post-war period was no exception.

28If the inauguration of Génissiat in 1948 epitomised the spirit of reconstruction, Tignes’s in 1953 became a Symbol of France’s ongoing modernisation. In the aftermath of the war, French dites understood that France lagged behind America in terms of productivity and tried to create the conditions for a catch up process. EDF, a public company looking for a new organisation and renewed growth, was an agent of change. This brought closer cooperation with civil engineering firms, which laid the groundwork for boosting knowledge and efficiency.

29The building of the Tignes dam was part of a larger picture of American transfers of technology and know-how. One should not underestimate its importance, even if national pride led many in France to stress the extent to which this technology was adapted and transformed by French know how. In the post-war era, public projects reached unprecedented scale. The drive for efficiency was unavoidable in view of the shortages of raw material, machines and labour. But Americanisation soon reached its limits. Tignes emerges as a Symbol of both the reality and the limits of France’s post-war Americanisation.

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Notes

1 Foreword of President Billiard, “Le barrage de Tignes”, Annales de l'Institut technique du bâtiment et des travaux publics, 72, 1953, p. 1-220.

2 D. Varaschin, Tignes. La naissance d'un géant, Arras, APU, 2002.

3 Archives EDF Annecy, F. Combe, Historique du barrage de Tignes et de l'aménagement de l'Isère supérieure, p. 5.

4 M. Bungener, “L'électricité et les trois premiers plans: une symbiose réussie”, De Monnet à Massé. Enjeux politiques et objectifs économiques dans le cadre des quatre premiers plans (1946-1965), Paris, CNRS, 1986, p. 107-126.

5 This difference is explained by the possible use of finishing works after 1953.

6 G. Bossuat, “Les entreprises publiques dans le plan Marshall”, La nationalisation de l’électricité en France. Nécessité technique ou logique politique?, Paris, AHEF, 1996 and “Aux origines du Plan Marshall”, HES, 1999, 2, p. 275-296; M. Banal, “Le Plan Marshall et l'électricité”, Le Plan Marshall et le relèvement économique de l'Europe, Paris, Comité pour l'histoire économique et financière de la France, 1993, p. 251-264.

7 -M. Margairaz, L'État, les finances et l'économie. Histoire d'une conversion, 1932-1952, Paris, Imprimerie nationale, 1991. American public authorities claimed their part for Génissiat (1949, CNR), Donzère-Mondragon (1952, CNR) and Passy (1952, EDF).

8 D. Barjot, “L'industrie française des travaux publics face à la reconstruction. L'impact du Plan Marshall, 1945-1953”, Le Plan Marshall et le relèvement économique de l'Europe, Paris, Comité pour l'histoire économique et financière de la France, 1993, p. 265-282 and “Mobilisation des entreprises de BTP et reconstruction des infrastructures: une première approche”, HES, 2, 1999, p. 349-370.

9 A. Ligouzat, “Le barrage de Tignes”, Annales de l'Institut technique du bâtiment et des travaux publics, 72, 1953, p. 1-223.

10 D. Barjot, “L'industrie française des travaux publics (1940-1945)”, HES, 3,1992, p. 415-436.

11 Archives Coyne et Bellier (ACB). For example, letter of Coyne et Bellier to the Tennessee Valley Authority and the Bureau of Reclamation (Denver), May 16th 1947. During year 1948, Lefoulon (EDF) and Guerrier (ENTI) gone to the United States and observed several dams in course of construction.

12 USBR, created in 1902, was connected with the Interior Department. He worked with western States (Washington, Oregon, Californie, Nevada Arizona, Utah, Idaho, Montana, Wyoming, Colorado, New Mexico, Kansas, Nebraska, South Dakota, North Dakota) and owned concrete, earth and hydraulics laboratories in Denver.

13 P.-A. Montagné, “Tignes Dam in French Alps constructed with American equipment”, Civil Engineering, November 1952, p. 28.

14 According to “Tignes”, Houille Blanche, 1958, p. 19-20, it was the first time that the three work stations were used on such a scale building-site.

15 Similar observations had been made on other hydroelectric building-sites such as Bort (La Houille Blanche, 1953) and especially Donzère-Mondragon (La Houille Blanche, 1955).

16 “Une américanisation des entreprises?”, Entreprises et Histoire, 19, 1998.

17 Rapport de fin de chantier (années 1951 à 1956). Aménagement de la Haute-Isère. Barrage de Tignes. Chute des Brévières, EDF, REH Alpes 1, t. 1, p. 1 et t. 2, p. 28.

18 ACB, letter of the Mecanic and Electric Industries Director to the EDF Equipment Director, November 12th 1947.

19 J.-P. Payan, “La chute des Brévières et le barrage de Tignes”, La Technique des Travaux, July-August and September-October 1953, 32 p. On American influence, see C. Jeager, “A study tour in the Alps”, Water Power, May 1951, W. G. Bowman, “Europe's tallest dam rises in French Alps”, Engineering News-Record, December 1951, p. 30-32, P.-A. Montagne, “Tignes Dam in French Alps constructed with American equipment”, Civil Engineering, November 1952, p. 25-28, J.-C. Ménégoz, P.-A. Montagne, “La pervibration des bétons du barrage de Tignes”, La Technique moderne-Construction, 12, 1953, 7 p. and J. Pelletier, “The construction of Tignes Dam and Malgovert Tunnel”, The Institution of Civil Engineers, vol. 2, part III, 35 p.

20 The blondin cableways System appeared in 1834 (bridge of Tours). Forgotten in France, it developed into the United States. The Norris Dam, constructed in 1936 on the Clinch River by the Tennessee Valley Authority, had been one of the first to use this System. “It was discussed a lot in preliminary conferences which led to the equipment of the Tignes dam”, P.A. Montagné, Tignes comparé aux barrages des USA, Paris, ENTI, rapport no 3, March 11th 1953, p. 6.

21 Payan 1953: 21.

22 It is worth criticizing concrete used in the Tignes dam since we have sought from the incipient stage to avoid traditional mistakes and we all agreed that the Tignes building-site was an experiment in many extent”, ACB, "Observations” du Bureau d'études Coyne et Bellier, April 17th 1953.

23 During this trip made in 1952, Montagné was asked by Coyne, EDF and ENTI to explain the reasons of American use of aggregate to 1.5-in millimetres. Answers reflected American pragmatism: the need to save plants from a building-site to another one; utilisation of quarry and ballast-pit products without supplementary costs; limited interest for cernent savings, P.A. Montagné, Tignes comparé aux barrages des USA, Paris, ENTI, 1952.

24 Montagne 1952a: 25-28.

25 “Tignes” 1958: 72.

26 Ménégoz, Montagn É1953: 1.

27 Payan 1953: 22.

28 “Tignes” 1958: 172.

29 Rapport de fin de chantier: 2.

30 Payan 1953: 22-23.

31 ACB, “Le béton du barrage de Tignes”, April 17th 1953.

32 ACB, letter of Martin (Coyne et Bellier) to Francou (EDF), November 18th 1952.

33 J.-H. Rousselle, “Traversée d'un banc de quartzites fluents et sous pression par la galerie de Malgovert”, Annales de l'Institut technique du bâtiment et des travaux publics, 85,1955, p. 78.

34 Archives EDF Venthon, 389. Pictures in Ligouzat, 1953: 1 237-1 238.

Table des illustrations

Titre Tableau 1-P.A. Montagné, 11th March, 1953
URL http://books.openedition.org/irhis/docannexe/image/1903/img-1.jpg
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Titre Tableau 2-Concreting Rhythm (P.A. Montagné, March, 11th, 1953)
URL http://books.openedition.org/irhis/docannexe/image/1903/img-2.jpg
Fichier image/jpeg, 96k

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