The story of Transfagarasan, the “Road into the clouds”
Have you ever been to Vidraru or Transfăgărăşan? If not you should go! Transfagarasan is among the most spectacular roads in the world, but the story behind these truly monumental road is one strewn with human sacrifices and sufferings difficult to imagine.
Life on construction sites was never easy and Vidraru and Transfagarasan was no exception. Civilians and soldiers worked in precarious work and slept in barracks full of damp cold, with shared bathrooms. Workers who needed medical attention were taken to the nearest clinic to in the back of a dump truck. The same fate they had those injured at work, but happy to have survived.
Dozens of police were in charge of peace and quiet in the labor colonies, but absolute masters were the Secret Police, the so called Securitatea. Some of them had permanent offices within the site and were in charge of overseeing all the workers. There were no visits of any political learders or any meetings to attest that they were even in contact with these men. No one was checking up on them.
The Transfagarasan road was built between march 1970 to september 1974, by young men forced to wear the military uniform at only 18 years old. They were accompanied by civilians and military, peasants and intelectuals, or any other who were forced to end up there. It was the idea of Nicolae Ceausescu to ensure a strategic road through the mountains, to be used especially by the military. Until it was built, the Fagars mountains had been impenetrable, even on horseback. The road reaches the tunel, near Balea lake, at an altitude of 2042 m and crosses over 830 small bridges, 27 viaducts. For its construction, 3 million tones of rock were taken out, by using 6520 tones of dynamite, out of which 20 tones were used alone in the Capra tunnel. One of the most difficult parts of the road is between Balea Lake and balea falls, on a distance of 13km. Many lives were lost, both by workers and military who halped build it. The official records talk of over 40 people, but the surviving workers talk of hundreds of casualties.
Many were surprised by the rocks that rolled uncontrolled and some of them fell into ravines. The problems arose from the first picks at the mountains side. Springs of water were gushing, the whole mountain was full of them, making it almost impossible to continue. Some parts of road were destroyed almost overnight by the landslides caused by the water. Most of the hard work has done just to consolidate to mountain side, but also for the terraces and bridges, useful in directing the flowing water. The majority of the tools and machines used to build the road had to be dissembled piece by piece and rebuilt on the mountain top, because the onl y was they could build was from top to bottom.
The explosions were the most critical moments for constructors. Often for minutes th Arges river valley was shaken, just like in war time. Afterwards, soldiers would quietly continue work. Human chains were made to clear out by had and ax the rock, but also to plant the next row of explosives. The winters were the hardest times, when half frozen soldiers were ofteen suprised by avalanches. This is what Ioan Tausan, one of the survivers, remembers.
The Vidraru dam construction took five and a half years, starting with 1960. When finished, it stood, at its peak, as the 8th highest in Europe and 20th in the world. It is a double arch dam, a spilling gallery and an underground power plant: 42 km of underground galleries were dug, 1768000 mil cubic meters of soil, 930000 cubic meters of cement were poured and 6300 tones of electric machines were mounted. They say that 400 people lost their lives making the dam.
Come and experience this great drive with us, with it’s amazing views and rich history, all in our exclusive Dracula themed tour: Meeting Dracula