Vallorbe is a watch-making town, but the surrounding district in the Canton of Vaud was for centuries celebrated for iron working. The sites of three blast furnaces and 30 forges have been identified in the region.
The museum shows how iron was worked in the Canton of Vaud from prehistoric times. It is located on the site of ‘les Grandes Forges’, which date from 1495. There are four waterwheels, worked by the River Orbe, one of which operates a trip hammer, which creates a noisy and hot atmosphere, characteristic of a forge. There are also displays on the making of saws and precision files, for which Vallorbe was famous. The railway section has models, illustrating, amongst other things, the construction of the tunnels under the Jura mountains which formed part of the route of the Orient Express. A magnificent French locomotive built just after the Second World War, 241P.30, was for many years displayed in the open air at Vallorbe, but is now under restoration at St Sulpice.