"Sao Joao del Rei by Narrow Gauge" São João del Rei by glabah
São João del Rei Travel Guide: 19 reviews and 57 photos
In the 1960's, as the world was closing the door on steam, a few railfans went around the world visiting the places last to operate steam locomotives. Ron Ziel, among others, brought to the attention of the world the beautiful little narrow gauge railroad (at that time not so little - with over 120 miles of track in operation) based in Sao Joao del Rei, MG, Brasil.
Later, when the Atlas of the Worlds Railways was published in England, once again the Brasil section prominently displayed photos of this most unusual railroad, with its beautifully maintained steam locomotives operating on 30 inch gauge track.
Then again, in the fall of 1983, an article was published in Trains Magazine, which gave many in North America their first view of this line. Previously, publications had been published in Europe about this line.
The view of the little locomotives leaving the train shed of the station, as seen here, became quite famous.
Unfortunately, it was not to last. In 1984, the cement plant served by the line closed, and track was either abandoned entirely or changed to meter gauge. 6 miles remained in operation, somehow.
Then, when the Brazilian railway network was privitized, the end appeared near. The line wound up in the hands of the Ferrovia Centro Atlantica, and some thought conversion or scrapping of the line would soon happen, as what else could happen with one of the largest railroads in Brasil owning such a small piece incompatible with the rest of their system?
It did not end there. Instead, the company invested money into the little railroad. Today, it operates 3 times a week, minimum, moving passengers. Sao Joao del Rei has turned into a tourist destination, and the line continues to operate some beautiful steam locomotives.
The area is also known for its pewter works and tin.
The rooms are small, but reasonably comfortable. The hotel is only blocks from the train station. The hotel also has a... more travel advice
There are several 1700's churches in São João del Rei. For those interested in historic buildings, these might be... more travel advice
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