Salvador / Santo Amaro / Cachoeira




The state of Bahia ranks fifth in Brazil in area and fourth in population. It is about the size of France and had 7,600,000 residents in 1980. The Portuguese made Salvador the capital of their new colony in 1549 and Bahia flourished as a hub of the sugar industry and slave trade for the next two hundred years. The seat of the federal government was moved from Salvador to Rio de Janeiro in 1763. Bahia's capital is officially named Salvador, but many people still affectionately (or ignorantly) call the city by its old name, Bahia.

Salvador sprawls strikingly on two levels on the east side of a bay (see map). The old, original settlement, commercial area and railroad line lie in the flat area along the water. The newer, residential zone, shopping section and tourist quarters (today) lie at the top of a steep ridge. An elevator and three inclined-plane railways connect the two levels of town. Two distinct tram systems developed on the two levels and, as shown on the map, even at their maximum extent connected at only two points: Calçada and Piedade (near Campo Grande). Salvador's population was 400,000 as recently as 1965 but approaches two million today: oil and petrochemicals have replaced sugar and cacao as the city's major exports.

Salvador was the third city in Brazil - after Rio de Janeiro and Porto Alegre - to have streetcars. A horse tramway opened along the waterfront in the Lower City in 1866 with cars reportedly brought second-hand from Boston. The Companhia de Vehiculos Economicos extended the line from Bonfim to Itapagipe with steam traction on 12 May 1869. This was one of Brazil's first steam tramways.

Antonio de Lacerda, a local entrepreneur, founded the Companhia de Transportes Urbanos and opened an animal-powered line in the Upper City, between Piedade and Graça, on 18 December 1870. Another company, the Trilhos Centraes, inaugurated a steam tramway between Campo Grande and Rio Vermelho on 1 June 1871. Trilhos Centraes later built another steam line from its Rua da Barroquinha terminal along Rua Dr. J. J. Seabra to Quintas and Soledade. Passenger cars for all these lines were supplied by John Stephenson in New York.

To connect the upper and lower cities, Lacerda constructed an enormous hydraulic lift. This was dedicated on 12 December 1873 and served as model for later similar structures in Rio de Janeiro (1883) and Lisboa, Portugal (1901). Another hill structure nearby, the Gonçalves Inclined Plane, opened in 1889. At first the Gonçalves platform transported horsecars, but the vehicle was later remodeled as a fixed cab which carried only passengers on foot.

Lacerda's Transportes Urbanos was reorganized in 1883 as the Companhia Linha Circular, a name which would become famous in Salvador during the next 75 years. And in 1894 the Vehiculos Economicos was reformed as the Companhia de Carris Electricos, even though all tramway operations were still animal-powered.

Two short articles in trade magazines speak of an electric tramway installed in Salvador in 1891 by the Wenstrom Consolidated Dynamo & Motor Company of Baltimore, U.S.A. ["Another Electric Road for Brazil," Electrical Engineer (New York), 1891/8/5, 146; "Electric Tramways in Brazil," Electrical Review (London), 1891/10/16, 452]. But no confirmation of this installation could be found and it is believed that the line never operated.

In 1895 the Cia Carris Electricos hired the German firm of Siemens & Halske to electrify the tramway system in the Lower City. Siemens began construction in June 1896, built an elaborate power plant near the railroad station at Calçada, relaid track, strung overhead wire, and inaugurated the first electric line in Salvador, between the Roma depot and Ribeira de Itapagipe, on 14 March 1897. Gauge was 1435 mm, cars carried bow collectors - the first in South America - and the entire 8 km route, from Ribeira to the foot of the Lacerda elevator at Conceição, opened on 6 June. Salvador became the second city in Brazil to have electric trams. (This was actually the third electric system: Rio de Janeiro already had two systems with different gauges.) Salvador's electric tramway was not only built and operated but was also entirely owned by Siemens & Halske.

Builder of the first 12 primitive-looking flat-roof cars is uncertain. Electrical equipment was surely by Siemens, but the bodies may have been assembled in Brazil. Six 8-bench clerestory-roof cars added to the fleet in 1898 were built by Falkenried in Hamburg, Germany, and in 1900 Salvador acquired two open cars second-hand from the tramway in Berlin: these had been built by Böker, in Lichterfelde, in 1896.

Two new hill structures were dedicated in 1897: the Pilar Inclined Plane and the Taboão Elevator. Both the latter and the Gonçalves Inclined Plane were electrified in 1909, the Pilar funicular in 1912. The Lacerda Elevator was electrified in 1907 and completely rebuilt as a larger structure in 1930.

In 1904 the Companhia Linha Circular acquired the Trilhos Centraes steam tramway and several smaller lines and hired the General Electric Company of New York to install an electric tramway in the Upper City. GE brought four 10-bench cars from J. G. Brill of Philadelphia (o.n. 14640) and inaugurated an electric line between the Praça da Sé and Rio Vermelho on Christmas Day 1905. Track gauge was 1435 mm as in the Lower City, but the trams in the Upper City carried trolley poles. Linha Circular ordered nearly a hundred more trams from Brill between 1906 and 1912 (o.n. 14938, 16204, 16987, 17600, 18474), including five funeral cars (15901, 18654-6), three meat motors (18190) and a motorized ambulance car with a fumigating chamber (18192). There was a tram turntable in the company's shops on Rua da Graça.

The Linha Circular was controlled by Eduardo Guinle, GE's principal agent in Brazil, who had achieved great renown with his docks enterprises in Santos. Guinle was frustrated by North American domination of electric utilities in São Paulo and Rio de Janeiro and saw his opportunity in Salvador. A crisis ensued when the Companhia Carris Electricos, the German tramway in the Lower City, was acquired by North Americans in 1906. The Bahia Tramway, Light & Power Company was incorporated in Portland, Maine, by Percival Farquhar, a New York banker, and Frederick Pearson and James Mitchell, the American engineers who had built the electric tramways in Rio de Janeiro and São Paulo. Farquhar bought the Siemens tramway and, spiting GE, began buying new trams with bow collectors from United Electric of Preston, England, in 1907 (o.n. 827 & 903). When he tried to buy the Linha Circular in 1908, Guinle launched a vicious smear campaign against yankee imperialism. On 5 October 1909, on the eve of the 1910 elections, the Guinle-owned Salvador newspapers reported that a blind man was run over by one of Farquhar's trams. Riots ensued and a mob destroyed 14 trolleys, hundreds of street lamps, the power plant and the gas works. In a subsequent, related incident, the police dynamited city hall and the governor's palace. Farquhar sold Bahia Tramway in 1913 to the Municipality of Bahia and left for Rondônia to build the Madeira-Mamoré Railroad.

Salvador continued to have two distinct tram systems until 1929: the lines of the Municipalidade da Bahia in the Lower City, which used German and English cars with bow collectors; and Guinle's Linha Circular network in the Upper City, which used American cars with trolley poles. On 29 May 1929 Guinle sold out and both systems were united at last by the U.S. conglomerate, Electric Bond & Share. The "CLC" emblem of the Companhia Linha Circular (which strongly resembled the "CSL" emblem of the Chicago Surface Lines) thereafter appeared on trams throughout the city. Bow collectors became standard and the IBGE report for 1932 shows 123 motor trams, 21 trailers and four work cars on 129 km of track. It was the fourth-largest tramway system in Brazil, surpassed only by Rio de Janeiro, São Paulo and Recife.

In 1937 Salvador acquired 10 double-truck closed cars, built by Kuhlman in 1923, from the abandoned streetcar system in Brockton, Massachusetts. Eastern Massachusetts Street Railway repainted and numbered them 1-10 before they left the United States, but they were renumbered 401-410 in Brazil. After World War II Linha Circular also obtained 35 Osgood-Bradley cars of two types from Worcester, Massachusetts (500 and 700 series in Salvador), and built its own 14-window trams.

The tram system returned to the city on 24 October 1955. The Serviço Municipal de Transportes Coletivos replaced trams in the Lower City with Fiat trolleybuses in 1959 and eliminated trams from the commercial area of the Upper City in 1960. A new tram depot was built on Rua José Seabra east of the business district and two isolated tram routes, from this terminal to Quintas and Rio Vermelho, continued to operate until September 1961. The Taboão Elevator also closed in 1961, but trolleybus service continued until June 1968. The Lacerda Elevator and the Gonçalves and Pilar inclined planes are still operating today and a new funicular railway opened near Calçada railroad station in 1981. Salvador also has an electric suburban railway that runs frequent trains from Calçada to Simões Filho, 27 km north of the city. Gauge is meter and power collection is by pantograph.



Santo Amaro

This historic city (1980 population: 30,000), formerly called Santo Amaro da Purificação, is about 90 km northwest of Salvador by train. But the most pleasant and interesting way to reach it for almost a century was by boat across Todos os Santos Bay and then by streetcar from the boat dock to the town. The Companhia de Trilhos Urbanos inaugurated the 4 km tramway along the south shore of the Sergimirim River on 1 January 1874. Santo Amaro is famous for its churches and the excursion was popular with tourists during the 1920s and 30s. The Santo Amaro horse tramway ran until 1962: it was doubtless the last such operation in Brazil and one of the last animal-powered railways in the world.




About 70 km west of Santo Amaro, another Companhia de Trilhos Urbanos inaugurated a tramway at Cachoeira on 30 October 1872. This was four years before the arrival of the railroad and was the first tramway in the state after Salvador. The line lasted a half century, until 1921.