Innovations in Industrial Transport in France: The Opening Up of the Saint-Etienne-Rive-de-Gier Basin (1750-“1850)

By Luc Rojas


Before the railroad era, most industrial goods were carried by waterways and in particular canals. These man-made navigable waterways resulted from an old French technical tradition. The Saint-Etienne-Rive-de-Gier basin fits this logic as the projects created within this industrial space were in their majority influenced by this technical culture. How did this space, the cradle of French railroads, adopt a British innovation that radically challenged French technological culture? In France, the early years of the 19th century marks the beginning of industrialization and thus of British technological influence on the continent. Yet, it took the perseverance and skills of École des Mines engineers to carry out this historic technology transfer. JEL: N73, O31


  • technical innovation
  • railroad
  • mining engineer
  • industrialisation
  • technical culture
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