Thursday, April 2, 2009

Unforgettable journeys / Viagens inesquecíveis


I joined army when I was 21, something that was mandatory at the time for all young males of my age, and had to show myself in the headquarters at the beautiful northern city of Chaves, not far from the Spanish border, coming back home every weekend. A part of that journey was made by the Corgo train, the dearest memory I keep from that time: A narrow-gauge railway that linked that city from Régua trough 57 miles of the most delightful and varied scenery. The first 15,5 curvy miles, snaking around the Corgo valley hills, were maybe the most scenic and remained in service even after a “rail holocaust” that took place in my country in the early 90's in which hundreds of miles of railways were closed forever.
Painted from memory, this image maybe doesn't show exactely the Corgo line as it is, but as I remember it, although I didn't manage to catch the steam era and the powerful Mallet type articulated engines inaccurately shown here were already rusting in the Régua station. However it's my tribute to that remaining section that unfortunately was also closed last week, temporarily as a major overhaul is necessary, they say... Since that's a story that was heard before when other lines were closed and today not even their rails remain, I'll keep my fingers crossed.

UPDATE in MAY 2010:
Almost one year and two months after, the line remains closed, and there is no sign that the works will ever start.

Aos 21 anos fui para a tropa, algo que era obrigatório nesse tempo para todos os “mancebos” da minha idade, e tive que me apresentar no quartel na bonita cidade nortenha de Chaves, não longe da fronteira com Espanha, vindo a casa aos fins-de-semana. Parte dessa viagem era feita no comboio do Corgo, a mais querida memória que conservo desse tempo: Uma ferrovia de via estreita que ligava aquela cidade desde a Régua através de 93 km da mais deliciosa e variada paisagem. Os primeiros 25km, serpenteando pelo vale do Corgo, seriam talvez os mais panorâmicos e mantiveram-se em serviço mesmo após o “ferro-holocausto” que teve lugar no início dos anos 90 durante o qual centenas de quilómetros de linha férrea foram encerrados para sempre.

Pintada de memória, esta imagem não mostrará a linha do Corgo exactamente como ela era, mas antes como a recordo, ainda que já não tenha apanhado a era do vapor e as poderosas locomotivas articuladas tipo “Mallet” aqui imprecisamente mostradas já estivessem a enferrujar na estação da Régua. De qualquer forma, é a minha homenagem a esse troço sobrevivente que infelizmente foi também fechado na semana passada, ainda que temporariamente por ser necessária uma grande reparação, segundo dizem... Sendo esta uma história que já foi contada aquando do fecho de outras linhas e hoje em dia nem os carris delas restam, resta-me fazer figas.

ACTUALIZAÇÃO em MAIO 2010:
Quase um ano e dois meses depois, a linha continua fechada, e não há sinal de os trabalhos irem sequer começar.

Fabriano cold-pressed 7"x 5" - 140lb (18x12,5cm - 300g/m2) paper

9 comments:

Stephen Dell'Aria said...

Great painting Paolo and you know my affinity for trains. I was fortunate to ride on several rail excursions back in the eighties that were pulled by historic steam locomotives and your view reminds of that experience. Those powerful Mallets are a spectacular sight to see and hear.

Paulo J. Mendes said...

I saw some old films of these Mallets climbing in this same section with long mixed trains behind them and couldn't believe how easy and fast they seem to run!
Many of them remain in the Regua station in a derelict condition. Others were plinthed as reminders, and a few were bought by railway enthusiasts associations and are now working in Spain, France or Switzerland.
A single one was restored in Portugal and could be seen hauling a few heritage trains in this same line half dozen years ago...
I sincerely hope this line to be reopened!!

Arménia Baptista said...

Espero que a bonita aguarela e as suas memórias, não se percam como as locomotivas que apodrecem na Régua, no Tua, em Gaia e sei lá em que sítios mais... Dói a alma ver tanto desinteresse. Creio que há estrangeiros interessados em comprar as locomotivas para as recuperarem...pelo menos algumas vão poder brilhar.
Parabéns

Paulo J. Mendes said...

Algumas das locomotivas que trabalharam nesta linha estão agora a rebocar comboios de época em Espanha, França e Suíça...
Prefiro vê-las lá fora em bom estado do que por cá atiradas para um canto, cada vez mais irrecuperáveis.

Sheila said...

You did this from memory? Amazing!

Paulo J. Mendes said...

I did actually, Sheila: It's one of my most hearted memories, and in the other hand, having been a rail fan in the past, I'm a little bit familiar with the rolling stock that was in use in this line... Although a true expert would find plenty of inaccuracies :))

Mineke Reinders said...

Your painting shows why this railway should be reopened after the renovations - and I hope it will be. I remember the Regua train station from a visit more than 10 years ago. I guess a lot has changed since then. Even then, there was a sense of loss and time passing by.

Villager said...

Esta é uma pintura muito bela que ilustra uma história muito triste. Infelizmente, a minha Pátria, Portugal que eu tanto adoro, tem-se distinguido por consistentemente ignorar o interior do País. Continuo a esperar o fim dessa miopia.

Paulo J. Mendes said...

Mineke, I understand your feeling so much about Régua station... That sense of loss still exists, maybe even more these days. Régua station is a place where remainings of past glory days can be foun in every corner, especially near the old depot, where a few of these steam locomotives are now a sad ruin.

Villager, a miopia de que fala tem vindo a tornar-se um glaucoma nos últimos quatro anos: Nunca esta Pátria que ambos adoramos se pareceu tanto com um feudo, em que um único castelo se banqueteia com os recursos de que a restante plebe se vê espoliada...

Mineke and Villager, um bom fim-de-semana / İyi bir hafta sonu