Magnificent Marly Machine
The magnificent Marly Machine was the ultimate achievement of medieval craft and mechanical know-how. Put into service in 1682 at the command of King Louis XIV, 14 gigantic water wheels and several miles of iron levers and chains drove 253 pumps to raise water from the Seine up to the top of a 533 foot high bluff overlooking the villiage of Marly. From there the water supplied the fountains in the gardens of the King’s palace at Versailles. For the next century and a half, until it was taken out of service in the mid-19th century, the machine attracted both the distinguished visitors to court and the merely curious. When in operation, it was said that it sounded like a wagon loaded full of iron bars careening down a hill. Thomas Jefferson mentions visiting the Marly Machine during a pleasurable outing along the Seine in 1786, while he was the US Minister to France. In the first half of the 19th century, the Marly Machine served as a laboratory where engineers tested new theories and approaches to machine design.