The Tramways of
capital of Pará state
is a website about the steam-powered, horsedrawn and electric tramways
that operated in the Brazilian city from 1869 to 1947 – and the
new electric tramway that was built there in 2004. For more information
on early tramway history, see the Belém chapter of my book, The Tramways of Brazil.
Part 1: 1869-1947
( Go to Part 2: 2004- )
first street railway was built in 1869 by the U.S. consul to
Pará, James B. Bond. The line began at the Cathedral and ran
east along Rua Pedro Rayol (Rua Padre Champagnat today) and Ruas
João Alfredo and Santo Antônio, then southeast along Av.
15 de Agosto (Pres. Vargas today) and Av. Nazareth (Nazaré) to
Largo de Nazareth (Praça Justo Chermont) [see map].
This was also the route of Belém's first electric tramway in
1907 and is the route (in part) of its new heritage tramway today.
gauge of the 1869 line was 1435 mm, established by the Botanical Garden
Rail Road in Rio de Janeiro the year before, and the first trams were
pulled by small steam locomotives. The line was extended in 1871 to
São Brás [see map], where the mediocre photograph below was taken [col. AM]:
began pulling trams along the same route in the 1870s and steam
operation ended in 1894. Here is Rua João Alfredo [see map] about 1900 [postcard, col. AM]:
addition to the 1435 mm gauge line, another animal tramway, of 750 mm
gauge, developed in the 1870s. The postcard view below shows both
tramways about 1905 at their terminals on Praça do
Relógio – at the intersection of Av. 16 de Novembro (Av.
Portugal) and Rua João Alfredo [see map].
Note that both the 750 mm gauge line on the left and the 1435 mm gauge
tramway on the right used the same type U.S.-built cars [col. AM]:
& Halske installed electric street lighting in Belém in 1894
and an English company, Pará Electric Railways & Lighting
Co., opened a 1435 mm gauge electric tramway on 15 August 1907. The
first line followed the same route as the 1869 steam tramway, except
that inbound cars ran west on Rua Senador Manuel Barata and east on
João Alfredo [see map]. To see a large photograph of the reconstruction of Rua João Alfredo in 1907, click here.
terminal of the new electric line was on Av. 16 de Novembro at
Praça Dom Pedro II, adjacent to Praça do Relógio
shown in the horsecar view above. The postcard below, made soon after
the inauguration, shows an electric tram about to turn right onto Rua
João Alfredo [col. AM]:
is a view of Rua João Alfredo after an electric tram has turned
onto it from Av. 16 de Novembro. The photographer is looking east [see map].
Note abandoned horsecar tracks, of both gauges, in the foreground. The
3-story structure on the left is Hotel América. A completely new
tramway was built along this same street in 2004 [col. AM]:
To see the original, large color version of this postcard, showing more of the street and buildings, click here.
a while, some of the new electric trams pulled the old horsecars as
trailers. The photograph below, which was reproduced in an English
magazine, was taken on Av. 15 de Agosto, called Av. Presidente Vargas
today [see map] [Tramway & Railway World, London, 4 March 1909, p. 167]:
Another view of Rua João Alfredo [Le Brésil: ses richesses naturelles, ses industries. Paris, 1909; col. Paulo Pacini]:
the electric system expanded, more tracks were laid on Av. 16 de
Novembro and the horsecar rails were removed. In the postcard view
below, Rua João Alfredo is barely visible on the left [see map]. That's Hotel América behind the kiosk [col. AM]:
postcard below shows an overhead view of this same spot on Av. 16 de
Novembro, with Praça Dom Pedro II on the right [see map]. The photographer was probably on the roof of Hotel América [col. AM]:
do Relógio (Clock Square), Av. 16 de Novembro, Rua João
Alfredo and Praça Dom Pedro II – here is a 1930s panorama
of the places where some of the preceding photographs were taken [see map]. That's Hotel América behind the trams on the left [col. AM]:
1940s view below is south on Av. 15 de Agosto – called Av.
Presidente Vargas today – a few blocks below its intersection
with Rua Santo Antônio [see map] [col. AM]:
last photograph in this section is dated 28 February 1946. The tram is
a reconstruction of one of 20 large cars that Pará Electric
imported second-hand from Cardiff, Wales, in 1940. Belém's
electric tramway system closed on Saturday 27 April 1947, less than 40
years after its inauguration [Charles S. Small]:
The steam railroad to Bragança [see map]
disappeared in 1965 and for the next half-century all public transport
in Pará state was by gasoline-powered vehicles using rubber
noted in the first paragraph above, there is more information about the
early development of the Belém tramways in the Belém
chapter of my book, The Tramways of Brazil. For the sources of that information, see the listings under "Belém (PA)" in the Bibliographies for Each City section of that book.)
Go to Part 2: 2004-
This page was uploaded on
16 September 2004
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