Friday, April 1, 2011

Hidden Treasures

As with so many railway museums in Brazil, the Museu da Companhia Paulista de Estradas de Ferro in Jundiaí is not easy to find. So, if you do intend to pay it a visit you will need to be blessed with good detective skills, plus a smattering of Portuguese, in order to be able to  locate it. 
We had to ask several people for directions because some had never heard of it whilst others, of those who had, did not know where it was! Actually, since it is next to the railway line, it is within walking distance of the station but it is better to catch a bus to the town centre and then walk from there. Believe me, it is worth the effort, since the museum is an amazing place that displays its treasures in a creative and informative manner.
In 1872 the Companhia Paulista de Estradas de Ferro became the first railway company in Brazil that did not need to rely on British expertise and money to operate and it used this  fact as a way to instill loyalty and patriotism towards the company amongst its workers and shareholders.
In those days its rail network reached to the west and to the north of the state of São Paulo and was used to transport coffee from the plantations to the port of Santos.
Fifty years later it became the first rail network in Latin America to operate electric traction and was, for much of its life, one of the major transport providers for people living within São Paulo state.
The company was privatized in 1998 and what remains of the network today forms part of the Ferroban SA freight network.
As for the museum itself it is to be found on Avenida União dos Ferroviáros, 1760, Centro, Jundiaí, SP in the former railway workshops, a huge building of which the museum occupies the central section only. It houses many interesting exhibits including two large HO scale layouts which, sadly, were not operating during our visit. Maybe I should have offered to stay and help get them working again.
The exhibits, and there are many, are labelled in both Portuguese and English and, for a rail enthusiast like me, it is quite easy to spend two or three absorbing hours in what are both fascinating and peaceful surroundings.

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