FolkestoneJack's Tracks

Reflections from the lagoon

Posted in Brazil, Laguna by folkestonejack on July 13, 2013

Today’s lunchtime stop brought us to the private waterfront property of a former mayor of Tubarão for a Brazilian style barbeque and a glass or two of a particularly potent caipirinha. It was a good opportunity to stop and reflect in beautiful surroundings.

Peace and tranquility on the Lagoa de Santo Antonio

Peace and tranquility on the Lagoa de Santo Antonio

Our spot on the edge of the Lagoa de Santo Antonio offered a wonderful view across to the far shore, which looked much as it might have done through the centuries. All along the shoreline you could see an array of wooden boathouses, whilst out in the lagoon itself a small group of fishermen passed by their nets.

As timeless as this seemed to us, it is a scene that will not last much longer as work has just started on a new four lane motorway bridge which will cut a new path across the lagoon and straighten the route of the BR101.

The future beckons...

The future beckons…

The new bridge is intended to eradicate the bottlenecks that we have seen build up all too easily on the approach to the existing bridge. The footprint of the new bridge can be clearly seen in this artist’s visualisation of the lagoon with the bridge and a short video on youtube qives a flythrough of the new bridge showing just what a dramatic difference this will make to the local landscape.

The railway first bridged the lagoon in the late nineteenth century, connecting the mainland to the Imbituba district with a 1430m long lattice-girder bridge. At the time it could justifiably claim to be the longest bridge in South America and, remarkably, it still stands to this day (albeit heavily corroded). A few sections have fallen away, but apart from that it is largely still intact – though I don’t think I would want to test its ability to hold up a heavy steam freight even were it to be possible to get one up there!

The old railway bridge runs parallel to the current rail/road bridge

The old railway bridge runs parallel to the current rail/road bridge

The original bridge was replaced in the 1930s by the Ponte Henrique Lage which was part causeway and part bridge. Although the new bridge better suited the heavier trains on the line, it came at the cost of environmental damage to the lagoon. The bridge still carries the railway line to Imbituba to this day – though it is a rare sight to see a steam locomotive racing the traffic on the adjacent highway.

Santa Fe no. 205 crosses the combined road/rail bridge/dam across the lagoon

Santa Fe no. 205 crosses the combined road/rail bridge/dam across the lagoon

The history of the existing bridge may have its critics but there is no denying that the sight of a steam freight working its way across its length is incredibly impressive. I don’t expect to return here but it will be fascinating to see the photographs of the completed bridge.

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Running like clockwork(ish)

Posted in Brazil, Cabeçudas, Capivari, Laguna, Tubarão by folkestonejack on July 13, 2013

The day dawned with thick fog surrounding the hotel, but this burned off surprisingly quickly and led us into a rather glorious morning. Even better, there were no more problems.

Santa Fe no. 205 hauls 14 loaded wagons over the Pont de Congonhas

Santa Fe no. 205 hauls 14 loaded wagons over the Pont de Congonhas

An early start brought us back to the much photographed Ponte de Congonhas to watch a loaded steam freight cross the lowlands in the direction of Imbituba, which looked perfect in the morning light. One of the marvels of photo-charters is the the flexibility to run in the best locations at the right time of day, banishing the exasperation of being at a beautiful spot in a valley before the light has climbed high enough to illuminate the track.

The other delight of the photo charter is the ability to re-run the shot, usually to get an improvement in the light or to try a different position. The opportunity to repeat the shot of the steam freight across the bridge was irresistible and allowed us to try a position much closer to the track. It was just as wonderful to watch for a second time.

Second time lucky

Second time lucky

After leaving Congonhas our morning took us on to Capivari Bridge, Capivari Power Station, Capivari de Baixo and finally a small level crossing near Santiago. In the afternoon we continued the journey from this point, photographing the steam freight from a footbridge not far from Bananal and then jumped out at the Ponte Henrique Lage to watch the loco work its way across the lagoon.

Santa Fe no. 205 finishes her morning run

Santa Fe no. 205 finishes her morning run

Finally we tested the minibuses by taking them down a sandy track at Cabeçudas and into the shifting dunes that had proved such a challenge during the construction of the line. Inevitably, our minibus got stuck directly over the line and didn’t have the traction to get over. Figuring this was not such a great place to be with a steam freight on its way, we helped to push it back over the tracks before a second attempt succeeded. It was worth the effort as the last shots of the day offered a wonderful glint.

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