THE START OF THE TRIP
The Estrada de Ferro Sorocabana, opened in 1875, ran between the Peixe and Paranapanema rivers. The railroad complex of the State of São Paulo was built with a peculiar layout, as if it were a vast flat hand: the wrist in Santos, the hand in São Paulo and the fingers running through the interior of the state. Sorocabana was the little finger.
When, at the end of the 19th century, Banco União de São Paulo proposed to build the Votorantim Fabric Factory, in the Sorocaba region, it also invested in the construction of the entire infrastructure to support the enterprise. Engineers, machines, trains, rails, wires, wood, immigrants, technicians, workers, all in great effervescence. The first step was the construction of a branch of Sorocabana, called Estrada de Ferro Votorantim. After the opening of the bite the sickle and axes, machine parts and also the big boiler began to arrive. The railway, initially steamed and with a 60 cm gauge, was managed by Calixto de Paula Souza (later the Sorocaba station received its name – Estação Paula Souza), and connected Sorocaba to Itupararanga, being used for the transportation of machines for the fabric factory.
FIRST STOP: 1918
With the acquisition of Banco União’s bankruptcy estate, in addition to the fabric factory, Antonio Pereira Ignacio acquired the Estrada de Ferro Votorantim. In order to facilitate the production and disposal of products from the factory, Pereira Ignacio changes the size of the track gauge and electrifies the track. From then on the line became known as the Votorantim Electric Railway (EFEV), being the second railway to be electrified in the State of São Paulo. The inauguration in 1922 had distinguished participants, among them the then president of the State of São Paulo, Washington Luiz. Calixto de Paula Souza was remembered for his dedication to building the road, and the Sorocaba station was named after him.
SECOND STOP: travel by rail
Still in the 1920s, EFEV was extended to Santa Helena, where there was a farm by Antonio Pereira Ignacio, reaching the Baltar quarry. It was used to transport limestone to the cement factory.
In 1924 Antonio Pereira Ignacio inaugurated a section of the railway linking the fabric factory to his farm called Santa Helena. The tram reached the garden of the house. Pereira Ignacio used a small line car for his displacement. At the time, when they saw this car, people said:
“Pereira Ignacio is going to take the train at Sorocabana to São Paulo! “
In addition to cargo transportation, EFEV was also used by people working in the industrial district of Votorantim, mainly employees at the Fabrics Factory. The railway line was an important factor for the development between the cities of Sorocaba and Votorantim, enabling the formation of neighborhoods, towns and commerce.
At EFEV there was also the “lunchbox train”, a composition that carried a wagon loaded with the lunch of employees at the Votorantim – Tecidos, Votocel and Santa Helena factories. The train stopped at the stations and people boarded only the metal lunch box with a little sign indicating the name of the employee and factory. The curious practice lasted until the 1970s.
Line car registration at the time located at the Itupararanga Plant. Hans Gunter Flieg photo, déc. 1970.
Until the 1950s, railroads consolidated as the main means of transporting passengers and cargo in the State of São Paulo. They were a source of pride for the employees and municipalities they visited.
With the growth of the developmentalist policy of President Juscelino Kubitschek (1902 – 1976) that prioritized automotive transport, the railroads have their glory period shaken and, in 1966, EFEV stops transporting passengers. The railroad continued to carry cargo until 1998, when it was definitively deactivated.
Much more than a simple train line, the Votorantim Electric Railway was the path through which people who built neighborhoods, businesses, dreams and many stories passed. Much of the grandeur that transformed a fabric factory into a world-class company passed through its tracks.
Train at Baltar Quarry, déc. 1920
Excerpt from the 1922 film showing some aspects of the operation of EFEV (Estrada de Ferro Elétrico Votorantim).
Ticket used on the Votorantim Electric Railway, departing from Votorantim to Paula Souza Station, used on November 11, 1944.
Check here images about the history of EFEV. These are records from the Votorantim Memory collection that portray the importance of this venture in Votorantim’s history.