The unique children's tram in Juiz de Fora [João Resende, col. Ana Maria Ribeiro de Oliveira]



This is a history of the street railway system in the second-largest city (after Belo Horizonte) in the Brazilian state of Minas Gerais.

It has a peculiar name. In the 19th century a "juiz de fora" – literally, judge from outside – was a deputy magistrate that the Brazilian government assigned to a small place that did not have an adequate judicial system. A farm owned by a juiz de fora near Santo Antônio do Paraibuna in Minas Gerais became known by that term, and the term was eventually applied to the town itself. Founded in 1865, Juiz de Fora is located in the southern part of Minas Gerais, 150 km directly north of the city of Rio de Janeiro. Population was about 20,000 in 1910, about 200,000 in 1960, and is a half million today.

Estrada de Ferro Dom Pedro II's 1600 mm gauge line from Rio de Janeiro reached Juiz de Fora in 1875 (the railroad was renamed Central do Brasil in 1889) and the meter-gauge E.F. Juiz de Fora ao Piau (later Leopoldina Railway) opened in 1884.

Juiz de Fora was the first city in Minas Gerais state to have a street railway, an animal-powered line inaugurated by the Ferro Carril Bonds de Juiz de Fôra on 15 March 1881. Here is an enlargement of one of its tickets [Julio Meili, Das Brasilianische Geldwesen (Zürich, 1903); vol. 3 "Bilhetes de Omnibus, Barcas e Bonds," plate 642]:

The first tram route formed a loop from the railroad station along Ruas Paulo Frontin and Espírito Santo, Avenida Rio Branco and Rua Marechal Deodoro [see map]. The rare photograph below was taken at the intersection of the last two streets about 1890 [Francisco Soucasaux, courtesy Jorge A. Ferreira Jr.]:

In 1889 Companhia Mineira de Eletricidade constructed a hydroelectric plant at Marmelos, 10 km southeast of Juiz de Fora, which was the first hydroelectric plant not only in Minas Gerais but in all South America. Textile mills flourished and Juiz de Fora became known as "the Manchester of Brazil". CME provided the city's first street lights in 1893 and in 1904 hired Eduardo Guinle, an agent for General Electric Co. of New York, to build an electric tramway system. Guinle ordered four 8-bench bi-directional trams from J. G. Brill Co. in Philadelphia in 1905 and CME inaugurated the first line of its new electric tramway system, from the railroad station to São Mateus, on 6 June 1906 [see map]. The photograph below shows a similar car ordered in 1907 [Brill Collection, Historical Society of Pennsylvania]:

The city's first tramway depot – for both its animal and electric systems – was on Av. Rio Branco at the corner of what today is called Av. Getúlio Vargas [see map]. In the 1910s CME transferred its transport operations to a large new structure behind its headquarters, called the "Castelinho" (little castle), on Rua Espírito Santo [col. Maria do Resguardo, courtesy Manoel Marcos Monachesi]:

[See a photograph of the Castelinho in 2013.] The photograph below shows Brill-built tram 1 at the gate of the new facility about 1910 [col. Manoel Marcos Monachesi]:

Following cars 1-4, Guinle ordered tram 5 from Brill in 1906, tram 6 in 1907, tram 7 in 1910 and trams 8 and 9 in 1912. The tramway survey of Brazil's Directoria Geral de Estatística of 1912 [see BIBLIOGRAPHY] reported seven passenger cars and one work car operating on 10 km of meter-gauge track in Juiz de Fora. Between 1913 and 1915 new tram lines opened to Tapera, Fábrica, Manoel Honório and Passos [see map], and in 1918 Guinle ordered two more trams from Brill, numbers 10 and 11. CME continued to order parts from Brill but thereafter built its own equipment in its shops behind the "Castelinho": 10 more 8-bench cars numbered 12-21 and nine 13-bench models numbered 22-30. The photograph below, taken on 15 October 1920, shows CME directors in front of their first 8-bench model, probably numbered 12. Unlike the early Brill cars, it had enclosed platforms at the ends [col. Manoel Marcos Monachesi]:

The next picture shows three cars on Av. Rio Branco, the city's main street, about 1920. The view is south, toward Passos [see map]. Track was single, with "turnouts" every few blocks where cars going in opposite directions could pass. The two trams in the foreground are going to wait at that platform while the tram approaching in the distance goes around [col. Antônio Santos]:

The following postcard was mailed in February 1925 [col. AM]:

The 1923 Annuário estatístico de Minas Geraes [see BIBLIOGRAPHY] reported 21 passenger cars and 3 work trams – so apparently CME completed its 8-bench fleet by that date. In 1927 a new tram line opened on Rua Espírito Santo that crossed the Paraibuna River on the Carlos Otto Bridge [see map]; from Botanágua cars continued to Costa Carvalho and Vitorino Braga. The Poço Rico line opened in 1928 and the Juiz de Fora tramway system reached its maximum extent: three lines on the north, three lines on the south, and two lines across the river. There were "short turn" services on some lines and some lines were extended in later years.

The final length of the Poço Rico line is uncertain. Some residents and historians claim that it ran only on Rua Osório de Almeida [see map]. But a 1938 guidebook map shows it continuing on Av. Francisco Valadares and an elderly resident remembers riding a Poço Rico tram along the river all the way to the bridge at the Curtume (tannery) Surerus.

During this period Guinle & Co. were also installing electric tramway systems and importing Brill cars for Belo Horizonte, Salvador, Petrópolis and Piraju. The postcard view below, from about 1930, shows the tramway passing siding at the Juiz de Fora station of the Estrada de Ferro Central do Brazil [see map]. The photographer was facing southeast, toward Rua Halfeld [col. Manoel Marcos Monachesi]:

In 1935 CME removed the tram line from the railroad station and established a new tram terminus in front of Hotel Renascença on Rua Paulo Frontin [see map]. The view here is northwest. That's part of the railroad station on the right. Instead of the zigzag route on Av. Getúlio Vargas and Rua Halfeld, the trams now turned from Rua Espírito Santo onto Rua Paulo Frontin [col. Manoel Marcos Monachesi]:

The next postcard shows the same spot as the view above, but this time the camera was pointed south down Rua Paulo Frontin [see map]. That's the hotel on the right. The railroad station is behind those trees on the left. The tram is preparing to turn west onto Rua Marechal Deodoro [col. AM]:

A gathering of CME staff and tramcar motormen in the 1940s. From left to right – standing: Nelson Salles, Ary Araújo, José da Costa, unknown, Antônio Carlos; seated: Valdir Fernandes, José Benetelli, João Filgueiras; front: unknown, Eloi Mendes, Urias ("Borracha") [col. Manoel Marcos Monachesi]:

Av. Rio Branco in the 1940s [see map]. The 1945 Ferro-Carris survey of the Instituto Brasileiro de Geografia e Estatística [see BIBLIOGRAPHY] reported 30 passenger cars and 4 work cars in Juiz de Fora. The tram fleet was complete [postcard, col. AM]:

The terminus of the São Mateus line in the 1950s. The photographer was facing south [see map]. The conductor – only his legs are visible – has walked the trolley pole to the back of the car so that it can return to the city – to the left [see a startling 2011 view of this spot today] [col. Manoel Marcos Monachesi]:

Collecting fares [col. Manoel Marcos Monachesi]:

A festive scene at an unidentified location. Only two tram lines in the city ran along steep hillsides: the São Mateus line shown above, and the Av. Francisco Valadares section of the Poço Rico line [see map]. Some say that trams never ran on the latter street. This photograph may be proof that they did [col. Manoel Marcos Monachesi]:

This postcard view of Av. Rio Branco was published in the 1950s. The "loop circuit" around Ruas Marechal Deodoro and Paulo Frontin had closed and trams were ending their runs at platforms on Av. Rio Branco [see map]. The conductor of the tram on the left was lowering his trolley pole for the return trip. The car's motorman has walked forward to take the controls at the other end. The name on a tram's destination board indicated its route, regardless of direction [col. AM]:

In 1951 CME established a new tram depot and shops for its cars on Rua Gustavo Freire in São Mateus [see map and Google "Street View" of the structure today]. In 1954 it transferred its tramway division to the city's new Departamento Autônomo de Bondes ("DAB"), which closed the Fábrica, Poço Rico, Costa Carvalho and Vitorino Braga tram lines. After that date only four routes remained in operation: to Santa Teresinha and Bonfim on the north, and to Passos and São Mateus on the south – the latter providing access to the depot and shops.

The following 24 color images were taken by Chicago tram enthusiast Raymond DeGroote on Wednesday 22 April 1964. The first picture shows two 8-bench cars and a tram waiting station on Av. Rio Branco [Raymond DeGroote]:

A typical Wednesday afternoon in downtown Juiz de Fora in 1964. Note how everybody was so slim then [Raymond DeGroote]:

The single-track dilemma: at every "turnout" trams had to wait for the arrival of a tram going in the opposite direction [Raymond DeGroote]:

The frustrated passengers and tram crews on cars 3 and 4 [Raymond DeGroote]:

Eventually tram 5 arrived and the woman and boy can go to Santa Teresinha [see map]. Cars 3 and 4 (hidden by 5) can continue downtown [Raymond DeGroote]:

According to the photographer's notes, tram 3 in this picture was headed south on Rua Ewbank da Câmara [see map]. It was coming from Bonfim [Raymond DeGroote]:

This photograph shows the terminus of the Bonfim line on Rua Barão de Retiro [see map] [Raymond DeGroote]:

In this view, locally built tram 17 is headed for Santa Teresinha. It has just crossed a bridge over the Paraibuna River and is traveling north on Rua Rui Barbosa [see map]. The photographer was facing south. The hill in the distance is the Morro do Imperador, atop which a Christ statue overlooks the city. When first built, this line crossed the river on a narrow steel trestle [Raymond DeGroote]:

Tram number 9 was the most famous tram in Juiz de Fora and was perhaps unique in the world. [It is also shown at the top of this page and in several photos near the bottom.] Since all its cars were open models, CME fenced in the sides of number 9 to make it safe for children. The tram collected young students each day and took them to the "Jardim de Infância" (Kindergarten) at the junction of Av. Rio Branco and Rua dos Andradas [see map] [Raymond DeGroote]:

The city's first 4-axle 13-bench tram entered service in 1927. The origin of the nine big cars numbered 22-30 is uncertain. Tram enthusiasts who visited the depósito in the 1960s were told that the big cars came from "St. Louis". But the order lists of St. Louis Car Co. show no orders for Juiz de Fora. If, as some claim, they were built by CME, their chassis and running gear (wheels) may have come from the tramway system in Belo Horizonte, which used the same track gauge [Raymond DeGroote]:

Freshly painted 13-bench tram 28 at the turnout on Av. Rio Branco near that thoroughfare's junction with Rua Oswaldo Aranha [see map] [Raymond DeGroote]:

Big trams 24 and 28 pass at the turnout near Rua Oswaldo Aranha [see map] [Raymond DeGroote]:

Trams 27 and 29 at the south end of Av. Rio Branco [see map] [Raymond DeGroote]:

13-bench cars 26 and 30 at the terminus of the Passos line on Rua Morais e Castro [see map]. Passengers are boarding number 30 in the distance. It will soon come forward and go around 26, which will then move into that spot and wait for the next tram to arrive [Raymond DeGroote]:

Looking northeast on Rua São Mateus [see map]. The São Mateus line was the first electric line to open in the city, in 1906, was the busiest on the system, and was the last to close. The new tramway depot was located on this line [Raymond DeGroote]:

One of the three turnouts on Rua São Mateus [see map] [Raymond DeGroote]:

Work car number 1 at a turnout on Rua São Mateus [see map] [Raymond DeGroote]:

Tram 28 is at the edge of town, approaching the end of the line on Rua São Mateus [see map]. Note the poor condition of the track [Raymond DeGroote]:

Detail of the previous photograph. Open trams were always playgrounds for young boys [Raymond DeGroote]:

The end of the São Mateus line on Rua São Mateus [see map]. The building in the background, slightly altered, is still there today [see 2011 picture] [Raymond DeGroote]:

The crew and passengers of tram 28 – as well as local residents – posed for the photographer at the São Mateus terminus [see map] [Raymond DeGroote]:

Detail of the photograph above [Raymond DeGroote]:

Juiz de Fora mayor Itamar Franco – who would later become president of Brazil – closed the Juiz de Fora tramway system on Thursday night 10 April 1969. The vehicles were 40-65 years old, the rails were in bad shape, and without extensive reconstruction the single-track network could no longer provide adequate transportation for the growing city. The photograph below shows the mayor (without a tie) and the bewildered staff of the tramway company about to take car 30 on its final run [col. Manoel Marcos Monachesi]:

Eighty-eight years of street railway service in Juiz de Fora came to an end [col. Manoel Marcos Monachesi]:

The following two color photographs – in addition to the first photograph on this page – were taken by Rio de Janeiro journalist João Resende, who went to Juiz de Fora to record the tramway closure but could not get satisfactory pictures at night. Somehow, in the following days, he arranged to load tram 9 with children once more and operate it along Rua Gustavo Freire in front of the tram depot [see map]. Power was restored. The date of his pictures is unknown, but it was no doubt sometime that weekend, 11, 12 or 13 April 1969 [João Resende, col. Ana Maria Ribeiro de Oliveira]:

This side view shows the fine craftsmanship of the Companhia Mineira de Eletricidade when it modified Brill car 9 in the 1920s [João Resende, col. Ana Maria Ribeiro de Oliveira]:

The same tram 9 at another time. The date, circumstances and author of this photograph are unknown – but the car bears the same livery as in the preceding color pictures, so it may have been taken that same weekend. It's the last time that these children will play on their favorite big toy [col. Manoel Marcos Monachesi]:

The author visited Juiz de Fora in April 1981 and took the following photograph at the Museu Mariano Procópio. Car 9 had much the same appearance that it had in the three pictures above [AM]:

During his visit the author located several other discarded trams that had been placed in schoolyards about the city. This one was at a playground of the Associação Atlética Banco do Brasil [AM]:

A taxi driver escorted the author to the Pousada de Juiz de Fora, a refuge for government workers in Nova Califórnia, near of the municipal airport. See the tram across the lake [AM]:

A closer view of the 13-bench car at the Pousada. Its fleet number could not be determined [AM]:

In 2001, 20 years after the previous photographs were made, a Juiz de Fora resident took the following pictures at Parque da Lajinha near the airport. "Escola Infantil" tram 9 and 13-bench car 25 had a splendid new home [Jorge A. Ferreira Jr.]:

A closer view of "Kindergarten" tram 9 in Parque da Lajinha. The exhibit is near the traffic circle at the intersection of Avenidas Guadalajara and Deusdedith Salgado, about 3 km southwest of the former São Mateus tram terminus [see map] [Jorge A. Ferreira Jr.]:

A plaque at the display provides a description and brief history of each car [Jorge A. Ferreira Jr.]:

The Leopoldina Railway closed its meter-gauge line to São Geraldo in 1974 and Central of Brazil ended passenger service in 1996. Today there is no passenger rail service of any kind in Juiz de Fora. Here is a 2005 aerial view of the city.




(in order of publication)

Percy H. Thomas. "Electric Transmission Plant at Juiz de Fora, Brazil" in The Electrical World (New York), 19/2/1898, pp. 240-241. Detailed, illustrated article about the Marmelos power plant and the electric installation in the city. Notes mule tramway (the electric tramway hadn't been built yet).

Brasil. Instituto Brasileiro de Geografia e Estatística. Directoria Geral de Estatística. Annuario Estatístico do Brazil 1908-1912. Rio de Janeiro, 1917. The "Emprezas de carris urbanos" section provides historical data and statistics for Brazil's tramway systems, including those in Juiz de Fora.

"Tramways" in Brazil-Ferro-Carril (Rio de Janeiro), 18/9/1924, p. 301. Five paragraphs about the plan for an electric tram line over the Carlos Otto Bridge to Botanágua.

Minas Gerais. Serviço de estatística geral. Annuário estatístico de Minas Geraes 1922/5. Belo Horizonte, 1929. The section "LXVII: Ferro-carris, Pessoal empregado e elementos do tráfego (1923)" describes fleet list.

Brazil, Serviço Geográphico do Exército. The "Juiz de Fora" topographic map, scale 1:50,000, dated 1937, shows the tramway system.

J. René Eyer Thomaz. Guia da Cidade de Juiz de Fora. Juiz de Fora, [1938]. Fold-out map shows ten tram routes. including a long line along the river, beyond Poço Rico. This map probably shows the system at its maximum extent.

Hildebrando de Araujo Góes. Inundações de Paraibuna em Juiz de Fora. Rio de Janeiro, 1943. Descriptions and analyses of the city's floods, especially the big one of 1940. The book is mentioned here because there is no mention how the flooding affected the tram system.

Brasil. Instituto Brasileiro de Geografia e Estatística. Conselho Nacional de Estatística. Transportation - Meios de Transportes - Transportiloj, 1945. Rio de Janeiro, 1945. Trilingual data for Brazil's principal tramway systems, vol. II, p. 93.

"Os Bondes da Cidade" in O Lince (Juiz de Fora), 2/1952. An article in this monthly magazine laments the elimination of the tram loop that passed the railroad station.

Paulino de Oliveira. História de Juiz de Fora. Juiz de Fora, 1953. "Os Primeiros Bondes," pp. 132-3, considers only mule trams. The author's 1964 notes on Os Bondes provides interesting data on electric trams.

"Conquistas do Povo" in O Lince (Juiz de Fora), 6/1956. The magazine says that the city has lost some of its nicest features, including four of its tram lines: Fábrica, Poço Rico, Vitorino Braga and Costa Carvalho; recommends trolleybuses.

Miguel R. Gomide. "O Bonde" in O Lince (Juiz de Fora), 3/1969, pp. 20-21. Two full pages of tram lore and tram cartoons. One of many such articles that marked the closure of the tramway system.

Waldemar Corrêa Stiel. História do Transporte Urbano no Brasil. Brasília, 1984. The "Juiz de Fora" chapter, pp. 166-173, presents history, three photographs and a timetable of the horsecar lines. Misinformation includes the statement that track gauge was 914 mm (it was 1000) and that some trams came from Europe (all came either from the U.S. or were built in Brazil).

Juiz de Fora. Prefeitura. Secretarias e Órgãos da Administração Municipal: Fundação Cultural Alfredo Ferreira Lage (FUNALFA). Patrimônio Cultural. Bens Tombados - Bondes. 1988. Official government page on the two trams in Parque da Lajinha.

"O namoro nos bondes" in Diário Regional (Juiz de Fora), ?/1998. An elderly woman recalls riding the Poço Rico tram line to the Curtume Surerus in Vila Ideal – indicating that at least at one time the line was much longer than others claim.

"Cidade chegou a ter trinta veículos" in Diário Regional (Juiz de Fora), 23/5/1999. Nice full-page chronology of tramway development. Valuable information on the Poço Rico and Botanágua lines.

"Cena urbana: Nostalgia inevitável" in Diário Regional (Juiz de Fora), 22/8/1999. Impressive three-part tribute to the city's tramway era.

Cleyton Souza Barros. Eletricidade em Juiz de Fora: Modernização por fios e trilhos (1889-1915). Master's thesis at Universidade Federal de Juiz de Fora, 159 pp, 2008. "O Serviço de bondes em Juiz de Fora", pp. 81-90, concerns mostly mule trams, fares on electric trams. Map p. 90.

Jefferson Gomes de Oliveira. História dos Bondes em Juiz de Fora. 2009. Concise history. Three photographs.

Pedro Carlos. "São Mateus - Memórias: Uma volta (de bonde) ao passado" in Revista Expressão (Juiz de Fora), 4/2012. Full-page article on the São Mateus tram line. Five photographs.

Juiz de Fora 150 Anos: Jardim da Infância Mariano Procópio. A nice paragraph about the school and the bondes that brought children there.

Ralph Mennucci Giesbrecht. Estações Ferroviárias do Brasil. History, map and photographs of the two railroad stations: Central of Brazil and Leopoldina.

Marcelo Lemos. Maria do Resguardo: Fotos Antigas de Juiz de Fora. An extraordinary, indexed collection of old photographs of the city and comments from viewers. The source of many of the images on this page.


The author wishes to express his special gratitude to Raymond DeGroote, Manoel Marcos Monachesi, Francino Salzer Rodrigues, Jorge A. Ferreira Jr., Joćo Resende, Wanderley Duck, Earl W. Clark and Ayrton Camargo e Silva for the assistance, information and illustrations that they provided for this page.




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