The beginning of the Brazilian railway expansion in April 30, 1854 with the inauguration of the Petropolis Railway in Rio de Janeiro, announced a “great idea”, in the words of Irineu Evangelista de Souza1, pioneered this mode of transport in the country. Connecting regions, taking the ore and agricultural production to ports, facilitating the entry of foreign capital: for a time, these were some of the concerns of the imperial government of Brazil.
However, the dream of the Barão de Mauá weakened gradually. Essential to the ephemeral, the Brazilian railway, disjointed and not more profitable, saw the decline of its activities from the 1940s, when the government encouraged the implementation of the road. Extinct passenger transport in mid-1960 - just getting freight trains - the notion of progress and modernity brought by railways to the urban landscape changed its nuances for decades, culminating in the scene of ruin and abandonment today in most localities country.
Around the world, the period of post-industrialization generated a similar picture to scrap rail Brazil: factories, workers’ villages and other industrial structures disappeared, not without clearing evidence of identity and memory of communities and their social relationships. The concern with this past - not only their physical remnants - turned many of these complexes in industrial heritage. Although the effectiveness of architectural restorations, the challenge remains for initiatives to safeguard the industrial heritage also includes references social, economic and affective those who enjoyed the daily lives of industries in its heyday.
The main thrust of the actions is to appreciate the cultural and natural heritage of railway complexes and the regions in which they are located, combined efforts to achieve the following objectives:<ul><li>To conduct educational activities that focus on appreciating and protecting our cultural and natural assets in order to alert the population about the need for their conservation, demonstrating through practical examples that preservation and development are intrinsically related.</li><li>To include heritage education into the curriculum of local schools, with high quality instructional materials that refer to the local history and the cultural, natural, and human heritage;</li><li>To mobilize local educators, students, and communities to survey nonconventional sources of research and recognize manifestations, artifacts, and documents that make up their history;</li><li>To schedule activities oriented towards heritage education, interdisciplinary in nature, using cultural objects as a vehicles for knowledge;</li><li>To make new generations aware of their cultural roots;</li><li>To encourage the creation of local groups, associations, and commissions aimed at developing the survey, registration, protection, recovery, use, safekeeping, conservation, and advertisement of their heritage;</li><li>To promote cultural tourism in the region as a powerful source for job generation, linked to the reactivation of the railway stretch between the cities.</li></ul> Thus, is necessary to contribute to the integrated (economic, environmental, and social) development within the locations, strengthening human capital in the communities and respecting local cultural identities. The efforts in various areas of knowledge should be to contribute to strengthen the people and respecting local cultural identities. This enforcement of this policy is only possible by deeply understanding the reality of each municipality and region, its people, and their social relationships. Cities are dynamic, able to take different meanings over time. From oblivion and neglect for the status of cultural heritage, railways complexes, having memories of other times - the era of the train - which can feed the imagination of the present generation through tourism and heritage education interventions, providing new ways of assimilating space.
1 “Esta estrada de ferro que se abre hoje ao trânsito público é apenas o primeiro passo na realização de um pensamento grandioso.” The sentence would have been said to the emperor D. Pedro II during the inauguration of the railway Petropolis by Irineu Evangelista de Souza, the Baron of Maua (1813- 1889), enthusiastic industry and railways in the Brazilian imperial period (1822-1889).