Curitiba / Paranaguá
Paraná, the state south of São Paulo, is also the name of a city in Argentina and the name of the river that flows there from Brazil. In 1900 Paraná state ranked twelfth in area and population in Brazil, but it is fifth in population today. Despite prosperity the state had only two known tram systems: in Curitiba, its capital, and in its port of Paranaguá.
Curitiba sprawls on an escarpment 90 km from the sea and, at an altitude of 900 m, is the only state capital in Brazil that has snow. The temperate climate has attracted a large European population, which has made Curitiba a world center of the coffee and soybean industries and one of Brazil's most pleasant cities in which to live.
Tramway development was international. A North American named Boaventura Clapp founded the Ferro Carril Curitibano and inaugurated a 700 mm gauge mule tramway on 8 November 1887. Control was sold to an Italian, Santiago Colle, in 1895 and to a Frenchman, Eduardo de la Fontaine Laveleye, in 1905. South Brazilian Railways, an Anglo-French company, bought the railway on 7 May 1910, at which time there were 225 mules pulling 30 trams on 18 km of track. In 1911 Brown Boveri, the Swiss firm, began construction of an electric tramway and ordered 29 single-truck trolley cars from Les Ateliers Métallurgiques of Nivelles, Belgium. The new trams, which arrived at the port of Paranaguá in April 1912, were convertible models with removable sides, unique in Brazil, and had trolley poles that swiveled to reach wires hung along the side of the street, an arrangement that was perhaps unique in South America. Trials began in August 1912 and South Brazilian Railways officially inaugurated trolley service in Curitiba on 7 January 1913. Track gauge was meter.
The city took over South Brazilian Railways in 1924 and the trolley system passed to the Companhia Força e Luz do Paraná, a subsidiary of Electric Bond & Share, in 1928. The Americans imported 20 Birney cars second-hand from Boston in 1931 (built by Brill in 1920) and transferred ten more Birneys to Curitiba from its tramway in Porto Alegre in 1937 (built by Brill for Baltimore in 1921). The trucks on these 30 trams had to be rebuilt to Curitiba's narrow gauge. The IBGE report for 1945 shows 38 passenger motor cars and 28 km of track. A Birney on the Portão line ended streetcar service in June 1952; it was one of the earliest tramway closures in Brazil.
The Belgian trams were apparently scrapped but a Birney has survived in a garage on Rua Barão do Rio Branco, the site of the former carbarn. The best known tram in Curitiba today is a car brought from Santos, complete with bow collector, which sits conspicuously in the center of the Rua das Flores pedestrian mall. It has been decorated and adapted as the city's tourist office. The major automobile arteries in Curitiba have fenced-in bus reservations which the city government periodically proposes to convert back to tram reservations.
Paranaguá, on the ocean 90 km east of Curitiba, is one of Brazil's chief seaports and is also, by special arrangement, a port for Paraguay. The spectacular mountain railroad between Paranaguá and Curitiba, which opened in 1885, has become a major tourist attraction. Freight continues west across Paraná to Asunción. Paranaguá's population was 10,000 in 1900 and is 60,000 today.
Construction of a steam tramway, between the docks and the commercial area of the city, began on 2 April 1892. The Empreza de Transportes de Paranaguá acquired two 20 HP Krauss locomotives and several passenger and freight cars and inaugurated the 5 km line on 7 December 1893. As freight service increased, some of the passenger cars were pulled by mules. When the Curitiba tramway was electrified in 1912 more trams and mules became available and the locomotives were retired; one tram was converted to gasoline operation. The quaint line, which was never electrified, became a tourist attraction of its own right and lasted until 1938. The cars were stored at the Rocio depot until 1948.
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