Original 19th century photographs of early South American and Brazilian railroads are not common. This is a really special set and a worthy addition to an advanced or institutional collection of railroad history.
This is a set of eight large album-mounted photographs of the British-built São Paulo Railway (E.F. Santos a Jundiai) in Brazil, dating from about the time of its final completion in 1868 — there is evidence of ongoing constructionin two of the photos and the rolling stock and station yard buildings look brand new.
The album pages are 9.25" x 11.5" and print condition is generally good with some damage that for the most part seems to have been caused in mounting.
None of the photographs have studio names, titles or negative nuumbers on them. However, handwritten on one of the album pages is the following inscription, clearly the source of the photographs:
Photographs S.P. R'way
Moira & Haigh
1 Lower Seymour St. Portman Square
negatives belonging to D.M.L.
Edward Haigh was a fairly well known photographer from Australia who opened up shop in London and is known for fine landscape and building photography in Australia, including railroads.
Much of the São Paulo system is what is known as a funicular railway, where a stationary engine is used to pull a train up the steep inclines by means of a roller and cable mechanism. Some of these photographs show this unusual system in detail.
There are also an additional three pages of photographs of outdoor scenes in the port city of Santos and in São Paulo, including a fascinating pasted-together panoramic view of Santos, the southern terminus of the railway, where the coffee it hauled was loaded onto ships for export.
Here is a description of the photos in this lot:
1) São Paulo Station Yard
Great super detailed view with engine houses, box cars, a spanking new steam engine, and a bunch of workers including a uniformed engineer.
2) The Tiete River Trestle
Another great view of a steam engine with two cars behind it puffing smoke while it sits on a short river trestle with six trainmen posing.
3) The Viaduct
View of an impressive viaduct spanning a gorge, nicely showing the funicular roller system between the rails.
4) The Jundiai Tunnel
View of the northernmost section of the railroad leading to the Jundiai Tunnel in the background. Featured in this photo is much construction equipment because the right of way excavation and track is not finished yet. There's a 35-foot-tall derrick-like device, timber construction all over the place, and several workers and animal can be seen. It is this photo that suggests dating this set of photos to the completion of the railroad in 1868.
5) The Sierra - Rio Grande
View of the funicular railway cutting through a mountain pass near Rio Grande with a track turnoff visible in the foreground. Rollers and cables are visible in several places, but I don't think the construction is quite complete and there are two men the background one of them pointing.
A pasted together panoramic view of the port city and surrounding hills, with ships in the harbor and the railway terminal near the wharfs with a long line of railroad cars in a train. Lots of detail of many buildings. Also a shot of the city taken from across the river.
7) São Paulo - The Shacara
Interesting photograph of what appears to be a fine villa or perhaps a plantation house building and the surrounding grounds.
8) São Paulo
Nice expansive view of the town taken from a high point showing fields, houses and animals.
Some history about the São Paulo Railway
The engineers were Scottish, the early steam locomotives were built in Warrington, Stoke-on-Trent and Glasgow, the gauge was 5 foot 3 inches as in Ireland, and the stations and infrastructure would have appeared perfectly at home on any railway of the period in Britain.
The railroad was designed by James Brunlees (1816-1892) a British civil engineer. Brunlees constructed a number of other railways in Britain and South America, including the Bolton & Preston Railway, the Mersey Railway (for which he built a tunnel under the River Mersey), and a rack railway over Mont Cenis Pass in the Alps.
He was also responsible for the docks at Avonmouth and Whitehaven, and with piers at Southport (1860) and Southend (1890). Brunlees used novel and economical techniques in the construction of the former, which was the first iron leisure pier built in Britain. He was also the consulting engineer with the original Channel Tunnel Company (1872-1886), which planned but failed to build the first link between Britain and continental Europe.
The Brazilian Federal government took over the railroad in 1946 and its name was changed to Estrada de Ferro Santos a Jundiai. It was one of the railroads that formed the Rede Ferroviaria Federal Sociedade Anonima - R.F.F.S.A. in 1957. Since 1997 it is part of a private-owned company, M.R.S. Logistica, which now includes this railroad, the wide gauge network of the former E.F. Central do Brasil.