We are here at the entrance of the dale of Sagne-Wagnard, situated between the hills of Agouillons and the foothills of the Dent de Vaulion.
Who says moorlands says turf. They were exploited at different periods of our history, particularly during the two great conflicts of the 20th century when people were worried about their coal supply. Work was still done manually during the First World War, but mechanically during the second. This activity nevertheless required a lot of staff. Many refugees from Russia were employed to do the work. When they had left the area, on their way to a Europe that was not yet pacified, we can only imagine their journey and tragic destiny. Honour to them all.
A hovel can be seen close to the road of La Dent, an inferior part of the separation wall. It tells of an ancient habitat throughout the year in this place, along with two or three other houses situated nearby. The same can be found in a valley beneath Les Epoisats where a little hamlet of some houses finds its place in the 16th century, soon to be replaced by some mountain cottages, owned by some ‘noble’ families of Vallorbe. It is in this valley that a long time ago, the main road from the different stations in the valley arrived by way of Sagne Vagnard to lead then to the village of Le Pont. Some of these transitions were too steep and made people prefer taking the road from Reposoir and Mont d’Orzeires which was rebuilt in 1930.
Along the sides of this beautiful summit, you will pass through the two mountain pastures of the village Le Pont, one called Petite Dent-Dessous and the other one Petite Dent-Dessus. Each one of these pastures has its own cottage. The lower one deserves particular attention. It is one of the latter works of the Mouquin brothers, architects and entrepreneurs from Le Pont; it is square with a four-sided pyramidal roof. The acquisition by the village of these two mountains which belonged during almost three hundred years to the Rochat consortium was done on the 30th of November 1844 at cost 16,000 francs, all fees included.
Having passed these two properties, you will arrive at the plateau of the summit of La Dent where you will see the third pasture, the one of La Dent, which belongs to the commune of Vaulion. The summit of La Dent is at 1380m. You can find an observation table there which will allow you – as long as the weather plays along – to discover an impressive number of alpine peaks. Near the triangular sign on the ground you will see the base of a small building where the sign officers would find shelter. They were able to communicate with the help of fires with other hill tops and send simple but important messages to Bern, and this in a faster and much more efficient way than if they had to take their message through conventional ways on horseback.
During the 18th and 19th century, there was a real gold rush happening in La Dent de Vaulion. This was, to say the least, very particular. In fact, there was never the slightest little bit of the precious metal that was found on the mountain. But many people believed there would be, hypothetical plans of goldmines were passes around in the county and some madmen spent a lot of time on the mountain without finding what they were looking for. Their work left a lot of excavation material on the top, and some traces of their work can still be seen.
It was also on the Dent de Vaulion that towards the end of the 19th century, Maurice d’Allèves, chief engineer of the Pont-Brassus line which was being built at the time, came up with the project of building a railway starting from Pétra-Felix. The concession was demanded on the 6th of October 1899. Two years later, its deadline arrived without any follow-up, and therefore it was not renewed by the Federal Council. A new touristic project was born in the sixties: link the station of Le Pont to the top of the Dent de Vaulion with a chairlift. This enterprise was too ambitious. Its point of departure was soon pushed back to the limit of Sagne-Vuagnard. The financial risks were considered too hazardous for the state council to accept the project, and it ended up in the forgotten archives of the history of our tourism.
The Dent de Vaulion has been visited by hikers for almost three hundred years. Schools used it as a privileged goal for their outings. In a tourist brochure dating back to the first third of the 20th century, you can read that pupils from all parts of the canton had come to visit, altogether ten thousand per year; and had climbed this beautiful cow mountain with a flora that used to be magnificent; today, the excessive harvesting of the excursionists has greatly reduced these riches.
The stemless gentian in particular has disappeared.