Difficult to find
The Project found locomotives behind bars and in difficult-access locations, inhibiting direct visitation by the public.
Fenced-in locomotives in public squares, in a zoo and even in the middle of a forest, covered by vegetation. These were the conditions in which some of the steam engines were found in the states of Minas Gerais and São Paulo. Instead of being on display in a cultural center or train stations, the locomotives are in difficult to reach or poor locations. The Memória Ferroviária Project encountered four engines in these conditions in the cities of Bragança Paulista (SP), Varginha (MG), Teófilo Ottoni (MG) and Iperó (SP).
“There is a steam engine in the Ipanema National Forest (Flona) in Iperó (SP) that is covered with vegetation and surrounded by trees,” revealed Sergio Martire, a locomotive specialist and consultant for the Memória Ferroviária. According to him, the team needed to walk a forest trail to reach the location where it is located, counting on the help park rangers. “The locomotive is hidden in the forest. It was necessary to hack open a clearing in order to get close to it and photograph it.”
Known as Nani, the locomotive, an AAR 4-6-0, Prefix 8, was built in 1910 by German manufacturer Henschel & Sons for a 600 mm gauge track. The machine was used to transport passengers on behalf of the Estrada de Ferro Douradense (SP) until 1940, when it began to haul iron ore from mountains inside the Flona to the Serrana Adubos in São Paulo. Martire did not know until when the engine was used for this purpose. “We only know for sure that it has been parked inside Flona for more than 20 years.”
Among the animals
The Maria Castro (model AAR 440) is located in the Varginha (MG) public zoo. It was built in September 1894 and used to transport passengers for the Estrada de Ferro Oeste Minas. The 440s worked in this role until the end of the 1970s, when most of the steam engines that ran on the Rede Mineira de Viação’s metric gauge track were sent to the scrap yards.
Martire has attested to the good state of conservation of this engine but he disagrees with how it is being displayed. “The locomotive is a legacy for future generations regarding the historical past of the region. However, the way the Maria Castro is being exhibited does not permit direct access by visitors,” he said, referring to the fact that the locomotive is located in an isolated area.
In Bragança Paulista (SP), the Luiz Leme 2-6-0 locomotive, Prefix 3, from the former Estrada de Ferro Bragantina, is located inside a cage in a public square, near a bus stop. “In order to avoid vandalism and theft, the engine is protected by bars, not making visitation of an historic railroad object an option,” according to Martire.
The Bragança Paulista city government intends to refurbish the locomotive in order to resume sightseeing trips. According to Mauro Sabatini, head of the city’s Tourism Department, the municipal government already has a project on the drawing boards for recovery of two train stations, Curitibanos and Guaripocaba. “In July, we are going to adjust the engine’s boiler so that it can be put to work during the tourist season,” he said.
The Jovianna locomotive is on exhibit in the main square of the city of Teófilo Ottoni (MG). The engine, which worked for the Estrada de Ferro Bahia Minas, was built by the Baldwin Locomotive Works of the U.S. in 1881, with an AAR 2-6-2 wheel configuration and Prefix 1. It also is behind bars. “The Jovianna remains in the city as a reminder of a remote and distant past, although its location and the fencing divert attention from the importance of this historical landmark machine,” said Martire. The Teófilo Ottoni Department of Culture reported that the city government has no plans to change the location of the engine.