Tour Denecourt and the 1878 quake

Tour Denecourt

Tour Denecourt in Fontainebleau

For more information about it check Denecourt and his footpath (in French) and a stub in the local Wikipedia about the tower.

Denecourt was a pioneer in trekking and hiking. He indicated walks for hikers and marked the paths

Tour Denecourt
A tree is marked in white and red paint to indicate a footpath not far from Tour Denecourt in the forest near Fontainebleau

From 1842 onwards, Denecourt was not content to simply indicate the walks. He began to mark out the paths in the forest himself, with the tacit authorisation of the water and forestry administration.

Sometimes with the help of quarrymen and other paving stone cutters. At his death, he had marked out 150 km of paths with blue arrows, so as not to get lost.

He also had fountains and grottoes built and had an observation tower called “Fort l’empereur”. Napoleaon III inaugurated the tower in 1853 (one calls it Tour Denecourt nowadays).

Finally, he named the most remarkable places: 600 trees, 700 rocks, sites and viewpoints.

The Earthquake that shook Tour Denecourt

The Wikipedia page states an Earthquake destroyed the Tour Denecourt tower in 1878.

As a matter of fact, I am not sure about Fontainebleau being on the San Andreas fault yet. But other sites concur with this view.

“This stone tower was built in 1851 by Fontainebleau forest lover Claude-François Denecourt on the westernmost top of the ridge known as Rocher Cassepot. It was originally named Fort L’Empereur [Editor’s note, i.e. “the Emperor’s Fort” because Denecourt was an ex soldier of Napoleon’s Army].

The tower had no military purpose, it served as a vantage point. It collapsed in 1878 and Colinet rebuilt it (via a fundraising campaign as stated on a plaque).

He subsequently renamed it Tour Denecourt.

Blog source

As to the earthquake of 1878, Fontainebleau photo evokes memories of an earthquake that struck the whole Seine Valley on January 28, 1878.

The only evidence I could find of a tremor on that day in France was one which had its epicentre in Normandy, hundreds of miles to the North-East.

Yet, it’s not at all impossible that aftershocks happened in other remoter places.

Yann Gourvennec
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  1. My years as a kid in Mexico and Peru taught me that earthquakes are a funny thing, Yann — sometimes they’d cause damage hundreds of miles away. But regardless of what caused the 1878 collapse, you sure captured a great image.

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