Fortaleza / Aracati / Sobral




The climate changes dramatically as one proceeds east of Piauí and the state of Ceará - in sharp contrast to Maranhão and Pará - is famous for its droughts. The beaches are sunny here and the capital city of Fortaleza ("Fortress") is one of the few in Brazil, or anywhere, that fronts directly on the ocean.

An English traveler reported tramways in Fortaleza in the 1870s [Michael G. Mulhall, Handbook of Brazil (Buenos Aires, 1877), p. 31] but another source claims that the first horsecar line, between the railroad station and the slaughterhouse, was inaugurated by the Companhia Ferro-Carril do Ceará on 25 April 1880 [Menezes, p. 41 (see Fortaleza bibliography, Part 8)]. Gauge of this line was 1400 mm (4 ft 7 in), the same as that used by the Trilhos Urbanos steam tramway in Recife. The FC do Parangaba opened a line on the south side of town on 18 October 1894 and the FC do Outeiro inaugurated a line on the east side of town on 24 April 1896.

The Ceará Tramway, Light & Power Co., Ltd., registered in London on 11 December 1911, purchased the FCC and the FCO systems and inaugurated the first electric streetcar line in Fortaleza on 9 October 1913. Track gauge of the new system was changed to 1435 mm, but most of the routes remained single-track with passing sidings. The British had perhaps become discouraged by their experiences on the Amazon, for their Fortaleza installation was less ambitious than their enterprises in Manaus and Belém. The Parangaba line closed in 1918 and was not electrified. All Fortaleza electric cars seem to have been identical 9-bench models with trolley poles: United Electric built 30 in 1912 (o.n. 1226) and ten in 1924 (o.n. 5426). IBGE reports 31 cars in operation in 1930 and 50 in 1936. In 1945 there were 53 passenger cars bearing even numbers from 2 to 106.

The Fortaleza tramway was closed by a power breakdown on 19 May 1947 - three weeks after the closure of the tramway system in Belém - and never reopened. Twenty years later, on 25 January 1967, the Companhia de Transportes Coletivos inaugurated two trolleybus lines between the west side of the city and the Largo do Carmo, several blocks below the town center. The nine Massari vehicles, constructed in São Paulo, ran until February 1972.




A brochure issued by the Brazilian government at the Universal Exposition in Vienna, Austria, in 1873 mentions a tramway project in Aracati, a coastal city 150 km east of Fortaleza [See General Bibliography, Part 8]. It is not known if the line was built. But, if it was, it may have been the first in the state and one of the earliest tramway operations in Brazil.




The Empreza Carril Sobralense operated an animal tramway in this town in the interior, 210 km west of Fortaleza, from 1894 until 1918. There were three passenger cars and two freight cars on the 3 km line that ran from the railroad station to the city hall.