The tearing down of Castelo Hill


One of the most controversial project in the city of Rio de Janeiro, the demolition of Castelo Hill at the beginning of the last century, only was possible thanks to the use of a railroad line to haul away the diggings. In order to deal with what at the time was called the “razing” of the hill, Mayor Carlos Sampaio hired U.S. contractor

The Baldwin locomotive (serial number was 55.341) was built in 1922 and ordered by the Leonard Kennedy & Co construction company.

No. 55.341 today is located in São Paulo’s Immigrant Museum and is in perfect condition.

Leonard Kennedy & Co. of New York. The project began in 1922. The job consisted of demolishing a hill occupying 186,000 square meters right in the center of the city of Rio de Janeiro. Some 4.6 million cubic meters of dirt were removed. The use of the railroad for this service was intensive. The contractor used small maneuvering locomotives for hauling off the dirt later used as landfill in swampy areas

around the hill itself and in the neighborhoods of Urca, Copacabana and Gávea.

Uma One of the locomotives used at the time has been preserved by the Brazilian Railroad Memory Preservation Association (ABPF) and today the train runs at the Immigrants Museum in São Paulo. The machine was built by the Baldwin Locomotive Works in 1922 and its wheel set is 0-6-0 ST. During the 1930s, this locomotive was purchased by the E.F.Central do Brasil and was given No. 5 to display, receiving a new paint job. It was used for maneuvers in yards in São Paulo and the Vale do Paraíba and only ended it activities in 1962, in Cachoeira Paulista (SP). It remained abandoned until sale the end of the 1990s, when it was passed over by the railroad company to the ABPF, which restored it back to operating condition.


The end of a landmark in Rio de Janeiro


Foi The city of Rio de Janeiro grew and became urbanized as of the Castelo Hill. The founding of the city took place in what is today the Urca neighborhood, but in 1567 – after the expulsion of the French by Estácio de Sá’s troops – the occupation of the city was transferred to Castelo Hill, which had a privileged view of the entrance to Guanabara Bay. The Jesuits, who had great prestige at the time,

Locomotives were heavily used for the demolition of Castelo Hill

built a school, a convent and a church concerns at the top of the hill. However, with the expulsion of the Jesuits from the city by the da cidade pelo Marquise of Pombal in 1759, a legend arose that would accompany Castelo Hill until its complete destruction. Because they left in a hurry, the Jesuits allegedly had left behind buried treasure on hill.

À The legend of the treasure together with a discussion about what to do with the hill lasted for more than a century and led to its demolition. From the top of Castelo Hill, the plains where the city was growing outwards could plainly be seen. And as of the 17th century, its privileged position

Locomotives were heavily used for the demolition of Castelo Hillna demolição do Morro do Castelo.

lost its importance for the maritime trade that was developing around Praça XV. The colonial buildings and narrow alleys around the hill became occupied by a poor, marginalized segment of the population.

When demolishment began in 1922, nobody believed that it was really going happen. Soime 5,000 persons lived in the surroundings. One popular theory at the time had it that the hill blocked wind coming into the city from the Bay, contributing to causing disease and epidemics that attacked the population of the center of the city. Those who defended its destruction, including some physicians and public health officials, praised the additional benefit of using the dirt for filling in swamps and mangrove areas that were around the hill, thus eliminating the “feverish miasmas” that they said emanated from the swamps.