Maigrauge Dam

A bridge-dam

The Maigrauge dam, which is tucked behind the colline de Bourguillon, did not start out life as a bridge. Yet, today its crest serves as a crossing point over the Sarine, replacing the original crossing which was swept away when the river burst its banks in 2005. When it was built in the 1870s, Maigrauge was not only the first dam on the River Sarine but was the first concrete dam in the world. The water stored here feeds into two hydroelectric power plants: one in the immediate vicinity of the dam, the other at the far end of the pont du Milieu, in Fribourg Old Town.

The city was reminded of the devastating power of nature on 22 August 2005 when the Sarine burst its banks and flooded the low-lying area around Maigrauge. According to estimates, the Sarine is expected to reach such high water levels once every 200 years.

Guillaume Ritter had grandiose plans for his Maigrauge dam: building hotels for tourists, running river cruises and introducing a train service that would transport passengers to neighbouring peaks. In the end, the engineer from Alsace went bankrupt.
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