FolkestoneJack's Tracks

Reading the clouds

Posted in Brazil, Criciúma, Siderópolis by folkestonejack on July 14, 2013

Our final day on the territory of the EF Doña Teresa Christina took us back to Eng. Paz Ferreira and the spectacular sight of Santa Fe no. 205 doing her best impression of a volcano as she departed with around 20 loaded wagons. It was a great sight to start the day, followed soon after by a run through the road crossing we had visited a few days earlier.

Santa Fe no. 205 makes a spectacular departure from the yard at Eng. Paz Ferreira

Santa Fe no. 205 makes a spectacular departure from the yard at Eng. Paz Ferreira

Throughout the day we had the diesel following close behind to retrieve the freight train after each run through which I am sure spared us from some of the difficulties that we experienced earlier in the week. Our translator, Marcia, told us that the local children thought that the steam locomotive was broken and that the diesel was coming to rescue it. Thankfully, on this occasion, that was not the case!

In the afternoon we headed to a rather spectacular rock cutting and watched in dismay as shadow fell on the line as our steam freight passed through. Inevitably, sunlight illuminated the rocks beautifully afterwards but the question we had to grapple with was, could we get a second runpast in sunlight when clouds were closing in rapidly? We waited and waited, trying to read the wind direction and the path of small gaps in the cloud cover.

The peril of betting on the wrong gap became apparent when the sun poked through a small gap in the clouds but quickly closed up again. It was 45 minutes before a slightly larger gap in the clouds looked set to give us a slim chance and the instruction to go was urgently transmitted by radio to the waiting crew. The steam freight passed through in perfect sunlight and disappeared moments later. Incredible!

The perfect moment

The perfect moment

The long wait was worth it for the shot it produced but had come at the price of the next photospot, the tunnel mouth outside Sideropolis, which was now in shadow after a brief moment in sunlight. It is a shot that will have to wait for the next tour to come here. It looked like this was the end of the light as we trekked back from the tunnel mouth to see Sideropolis under a blanket of clouds.

Our luck held a little longer, with glorious rays of sunlight greeting the arrival of the steam freight at Rio Fiorita’s wooden loading facility and setting up the perfect finale to our tour. Large crowds of locals had gathered at the level crossing to witness this final act in the week’s events which gave the end of the tour a rather unexpectedly lovely atmosphere.

Santa Fe no. 205 arrives at Rio Fiorita

Santa Fe no. 205 arrives at Rio Fiorita

In the evening the crew, translators, railway managers, museum team and our tour organiser were deservedly the toast of the room with many a speech taking us into the night. I am sure that the crew in particular needed their sleep after a hellish week in ‘the office’ but all of could say with absolute honesty that they had delivered a magnificent spectacle.

As I headed to bed the sound of thunder, lightning and torrential rain pounding down reminded me that luck really had swung our way today!


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