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Saturday, December 24, 2016

Viaduct Conques

Railway Bridge over the River Semois in Belgium
We started watching The Break, a murder mystery series, on Netflix last night. In French, with subtitles. The story starts off with a local soccer star falling off of this bridge. It's a tall bridge and the water is not very deep, so he dies. Question is, was it suicide or murder? Seems like we've seen a bunch of European murder mysteries lately. Not quite sure what the appeal is, but we seem to enjoy them.

The town named in the show is not the same as the town where it was filmed, which is not near the river. The show is set in Heiderfeld, Belgium, it was shot in Sainte-Ode and the bridge is between Herbeumont and Conques. They are not too far apart and all three are about 80 miles southeast of Brussels.

The bridge is kind of big, which prompts me to go looking for it. Something that big should show up easy on Google Maps, but even big things require a clue. Okay, big is a relative term. If you are looking for a continent, knowing which planet to search should make it easy, though just knowing what star system it was could be enough. Any kind of man made feature requires bit more precision.

Poking around I found a couple of web sites that seemed to know something, so I sent an inquiry. I do that occasionally and every once in a while I eventually get a useful response. I sent off three inquiries this morning, and this afternoon I got two responses. I am telling the family about this, asking what kind of people have time to answer email inquiries on Christmas Eve? And they all gave me knowing looks. Oh. People like me. Hey! My kind of people! Ooo-Rah!

The owner of the first photo, Steven House of Green River Canoes, gave me a clue, and a little more searching turned up some other photos. I didn't find out anything more about the bridge other than it was built 1910 and is 500 feet long. Here's some photos. Click on the captions to visit the site.

Fenced walkway on the Viaduct van Conques over the River Semois in Belgium
Our detective climbs over this fence during the course of his investigation.

Viaduct Conques on the Semois between Herbeumont and Conques

Viaduct Conques 1910. I am pretty sure this is under construction.
And here's a map:

Viaduct Conques
Using Google Earth to look at places with hills is a real treat. Click on the 3D button (just above the zoom controls), then by holding down the control key and moving the mouse, you can pan and tilt your view. It's really quite spectacular. You can get a great sense of the landscape by doing this.

Here's the railroad map:

Viaduct Conques Railroad
Using the Open Railway Map is a little different than using Google Maps. Finding this bridge on the railroad map took some fiddling.

While I am fooling with maps, I am having a hard time locating a spot found on a Google Map on Google Maps (wait, what? Trust me, if doesn't matter). The upshot is all these places with their winding roads and winding rivers and funny furrin name all begin to look alike, so I copied the lat and long from one url to another, and since I was doing it by hand (sometimes you just get tired of trying to slide the mouse over one more pixel so it will pick up the last letter in a phrase), I didn't type the whole number. I figured three decimal places should be sufficient, after all one degree is 69 miles, so one-one-thousandth of a degree should be (um, 70*5000 is 350,000, divided by a thousand gives 350) about 350 feet. And switching between the two maps causes the bridge to jump about half of an inch, which is about 100 scale feet, which is roughly half of 350, so good enough.

Update January 2017: Ms. Catherine from Infrabel, the Belgian railway people, points me to the French Wikipedia has an article about this rail line. Google's translated version can be found here. Near as I can make out it played a critical part in WWI, and maybe in WW2.

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