May 05, 2013
The Aven Armand was unexplored for thousands of years. It is one of those pits that inspire terrifying legends and are accused of being devil's throats that swallow up lost travellers and wandering herds. We owe the discovery of this swallow-hole to Louis Armand, who explored it with Edouard Alfred Martel, the pioneer of speleology. Armand worked alongside Louis as an explorer both in France and abroad. On 18 September 1897, at the Hôtel des Voyageurs in Rozier, Louis Armand announced to Martel: “Yesterday when I was going down from the Parade I landed by chance on an master hole. The big stones that I threw down it went a hell of a long way and made an incredible amount of noise.” On 19 September, Martel, Viré and Armand arrived on the site with a linge amount of equipment. As Martel described it: “A thousand kilos of ladders, ropes, telephone, camp beds, light cases, clothes, provisions and tools”. Armand went down the 75??metre vertical drop first without encountering any major difficulties. As soon as lie posed his feet on the scree cone, lie cried out “It's huge!” Then he discovered the Forêt Vierge ( Virgin Forest ) and telephoned to Martel: “Mister Martel, it's splendid! There are at least a 100 columns. The biggest must be a good 25 metres high. I have never seen anything like it. Come down and see for yourself”.
The first expedition lasted for three days and during it they were also able to go 87 metres down a second shaft. Martel declared: “As the cavern didn't have a naine, I immediately decided to call it the Armand swallow-hole.” Exploration continued over the following years. During this time, Armand organised private visits for amateurs who weren't afraid of going down the 75??metre descent. Martel wanted to make Armand the director of a swallow-hole with suitable installations and fittings to receive the public, but was unsuccessful in finding the necessary financing for the project.
Then, three years later, two Toulouse entrepreneurs, M. Pin, M. Tondut and M. Paul, finally acquired the lands and necessary planning rights to carry out works to open the swallow-hole to the public. The Aven Armand public limited company was set up on 25 August 1925. The works started on lst June 1926. These were considerable.
They included : building a road linking the RN586 route to the Swallowhole entrance, digging a 208 metre long tunnel sloping gently down to main chamber, making a staircase so that people could circulate freely in the cavern and lastly, making paths around the stalagmites, lighting in four different colours.
The inauguration of the Swallow-hole??s installations for visitors took place on 11 June 1927. This was thirty years after it's discovery. The monument in honour of Martel and Armand was unveiled on the same day as the inauguration. This monument was erected near the Rozier Bridge in the Mostuéjouls commune.
From Above in Aven Armand
May 05, 2013