"Steam Locomotive " (*)
By the time of the departing there was a big rush at the platform of Miguel Pereira train station. Miguel Pereira
is a small town in the countryside of Rio de Janeiro state. The number of people looking like tourists was quite
big. The train was a steam locomotive, which indicated it was no ordinary trip.
The trip begins more or less on time. The train makes its first stop at Governador Portela and then starts going
down the mountain range. Half the way down there's a stop in Santa Cruz, a small village that can still be
reached today by a dirt road. The place is famous for its many waterfalls. The landscape along the way is very
beautiful and one of the attractions is, certainly, a bridge which the train crosses, built in 1897. It's an 34 meter
high iron bridge with a 82 meter span.
At the end of the mountain range the train reaches Arcádia, just a quick stop, moving on to Conrado where the
trip ends. The train stops for a while, time enough for the passengers to eat something, get to know the station
and its surroundings. The city is small but welcoming. Many people go to the platform to see the train arrival.
Soon you can hear the locomotive's whistle calling the passengers back on board.
There's a surprise on the way back: a diesel locomotive is attached to the steam locomotive to help it go up the
mountain range. The driver, who was proud of his ability to manage the steam engine explained: "This steam
locomotive has a small boiler and it's not strong enough to go up hill". There are, according to him, a bigger one
that could go up the mountain range without needing any help and one of those was already been prepared to
replace the smaller one...
This stretch of the railway was part of the auxiliary line through which one could, leaving from Rio de Janeiro,
arrive at Belo Horizonte and, if I'm not mistaken, up to Carangola, in the countryside of Minas. Once in
Belo Horizonte it was possible, according to gathered information, going by train to Brasília and other parts of
the country. But railway transportation was completely abandoned and neglected in Brazil, and there are only
a few very specific stretches meant for load transportation.
In 1986 RFFSA workers, in an attempt to keep the railway traffic in the area, organized a train journey that
started in Miguel Pereira and went down the mountain range to Conrado. It was a touristic journey that took
advantage of the beautiful landscape of the mountain range and the charm of the steam locomotive. The
round-trip could be taken only on Sundays and holidays. Despite being a touristic journey to the town, the
people from the area used that train as a means of transportation.
At that time, railway transportation had long been neglected in the region. The stations and the lines were in
bad conditions. There was no more regular transportation through the railways. Only the stations and the stops
where the steam locomotive passed by had been taken care of.
Afterwards everything was paralyzed, the wagons and locomotives kept on garages, the stations were closed
and the lines were completely abandoned. In some stretches the tracks were ripped of and the railway bed was
used for building highroads. It's the "automobile dictatorship".
Nowadays railway transportation in the area is totally deactivated, the wagons and locomotives are gone, the
stations were abandoned, torn down, and some became leisure areas. In many places the tracks were taken out
or were covered by the vegetation.
(*) Those pictures were taken on March 1977, March 1984, and October 1986, in Miguel Pereira,
Governador Portela, Vera Cruz and Conrado, countryside of Rio de Janeiro state.