The Disaster of Molare

CHAPTER 5. The Disaster of Molare

The collapsing of the dam of Molare” started of course judicial proceedings, which came to their deplorable end on July 4 th , 1938 with the acquittal of all the 12 accused persons of the O.E.G.

The merit of this result was partially due to the technical-legal capacity of the defence team (among them the Professor Giulio De Marchi, staff teacher of Hydraulics science in the Regio Politecnico of Milan and a great personage of the italian hydraulics of ‘900), but also and chiefly, to the inadequacy of the Public Prosecutor. In fact, the defence thesis prevailed, showing clearly that rainfall had been out of the ordinary. The bad running of the outflows of the Main Dam and the fact that the Secondary Dam had collapsed since it was built on poor and brittle rocks, were considered of no influence. Really, in this last case, the defence experts succeeded in proving that....” even if the dam was established on a solid foundation of hard granite , it would be pulled down in an equal manner”!....

In the meanwhile, the bridges were rebuilt and some houses, named “casoni” were constructed, destined to damaged people, who still live in. And so activities in the Orba Valley “ rise again thanks to the Duce's will...... The laborious Fascism life and the trust in the future are back”. Actually, the Duce was never seen in Ovada and Molare, but he sent his delegates (among them Mr. Starace) thus preventing his person from joining with ruinous and tragic events. But history teaches that his hopes were vain....

As previously said, this hydraulic disaster was not the first one in Italy (Gleno Valley in 1923, 400 victims about) and was not the last. 30 years later, on October 9 th , 1963, in the Piave Valley the death of 2000 persons about, inflicted a severe and hard blow upon the italian hydroelectric growth. In this case too, wide, advanced engineering projects, transformed into real traps for the inhabitants of the valley, owing to rough examinations of the intervention sites, which could enable on the contrary to take the suitable counter-measures.

Atpresent, the collapsing of the Secondary Dam of Ortiglieto is a nearly unknown event, in part also because it happended in a transition period between two World Wars and under Fascism. Anyway, the 1935 tragedy was an important stage in the hystory of the engineering-hydraulic knowledges, allowing both to change the parameters relating to outflows sizes and to state greater safety margins. It is recalled by most technical issues within the hydraulical works field. Nowadays, the high Orba Valley continues to keep its wild and rural natural characteristics, as far as possible. The Orba Torrent, upstream the new Molare bridge (completed April, 1938) allows bathing and gets the attention of a great number of tourists. If you run along the divisional road leading to Olbicella, up along the narrow torrent bends, you will reach Ortiglieto. An attentive observer will be able to notice the long deep cut in the rock, which was once Sella Zerbino, where the destroyed Secondary Dam was laid.

A path goes from the road to the river banks, in the bottom of the old Lake , just in front of the not yet healed wound. It is a sad and gloomy place: the torrent formed a small, cold and dark lake. Since the day of the disaster till now, the Orba bed has become 20 mt. deeper, thus showing that these rocks are subject to strong erosion and this was the place chosen to build the Secondary Dam (click here to examine the current topographical map).

The Main dam, on the contrary is still there, where its was established, hidden among the woods of the valley and the memories of time, 500 mt. about far from Sella Zerbino. By this time, the river has dug making a way through the opposite side of the Zerbino Mount, ignoring the imposing work, nearly complete and untouched in the last 70 years. Now, the old bed of the river has become a lake, which is very interesting for its natural environment. The 2005 was a very important year for the Disaster of Molare. Many memorials and performances to make known this event were planned (the first ones after 70 years) and some books containing a lot of pictures and old photos were published.


Note a margine:

La traduzione del corpo di testo è stata curata dalla Sig.ra Vanda Martini che ringrazio moltissomo. Qualsiasi errore di traduzione presente nella pagina - es. didascalie immagini, barra dei comandi ecc - è attribuibile alla mia scarsa conoscenza dell'inglese

Map of the section:

Sito curato da Vittorio Bonaria oppure