In the memories of all inhabitants of Bosnia and Herzegovina and the region, Ćiro, the legendary train, which used to transport pupils, students, and workers, has an important place. Ćiro brought joy. It brought first cherries, apples, and much needed food for winter, which mothers used to prepare for their sons and send by train, it used to transport coal, mail and everything that could be sent by train, and it was a witness to numerous departures to the army.
An old steam locomotive with a unique and recognizable beacon and cloud of smoke in the air passed through many cities of Bosnia and Herzegovina, bringing with it various life stories, experiences, emotions, sorrow and happiness. The sound of a locomotive with a dense cloud of smoke and a specific smell, and a picture of the trainers in blue suits, with red hats and whistles that gave a sign that the train could go to its destination, are still firmly in the memory of many generations.
They always regrett the day in 1978 when it was decided to abolish the narrow-gauge railway in Bosnia and Herzegovina. People were standing next to the railway line, trampled with tears in their eyes and flowers in their hands and said goodbye to their friend.
Since then, few people travel by train in Bosnia and Herzegovina, but for the great joy of many, the experience of driving old wagons with wooden seats and steam locomotive from 1948 is still possible in Banovići, a small mining town in Middle East Bosnia.
Ćiro along with the narrow-gauge railroad Brčko-Banovići, which was the first in the territory of Yugoslavia built during youth work actions, played a major role, as it was connecting rich coal spots with main roads.
The authorities of this city, together with the Banovići Tourism Development and Promotion Center, were the only to recognize the importance and preserved the memory of the part of the legendary narrow-gauge railroad and the old, dusty Ćiro, which became the symbol of this place. The steam locomotive 55-99 was primarily the exhibit for 35 years, after which, together with two rearranged wagons, it was repaired in the Coal Mine Banovići to serve as a tourist attraction.
For several years now, tourists from all over the world come to Banovići to go through the beautiful landscapes and enjoy the ride in Ćiro, and at least briefly return to the long past time. The team of our magazine took the opportunity, and on the occasion of marking the Day of the Municipality of Banovići, together with members of several cultural and artistic associations took a ride in Ćiro.
With young people who were eagerly awaiting the arrival of the old steam locomotive before the coal mine, known to them only from old photographs and postcards, we sat on the wooden benches of one of the wagons, and while the sound of the locomotive echoed the city and the nearby villages, we enjoyed watching beautiful scenes through old windows.
An eighteen-year-old Amra could not wait for Ćiro to arrive. Her parents, grandfathers and grandmothers were constantly talking about it.
– That is why driving in this train is a special experience for me. I was riding a modern train, but it does not have such beauty and warmth as Ćiro, although it’s noisy and slow – says this enthusiast.
Although for former concepts it was very fast, this few decades old locomotive, travels at a speed of 30 to 35 kilometers per hour, which gives this unique ride a special charm today.
Judging by the smiles on the passengers’ faces, the light ride of about an hour filled their expectations and our expectations as well. Muris Brigić, from Banovići Center for the Protection, Development and Promotion of Tourism, says that precisely because of this, many tourists and fans of steamers and railway rarities are returning for several times in order to enjoy the ride with this rare train again.
– Banovići coalmine is probably the only one in the world where steam locomotives, along the tracks of a narrow track, still carry coal. Such machines are rarely found. If there are some left, they are used only as exhibits, and you can take a walk through them. Several times a month, depending on the interest of groups from abroad, we organize the Ćiro ride – Brigić says.
He adds that the plan is to build a railway line, which will be used to transport passengers to the top of the Konjuh Mountain and the Banovići Mining and Railway Museum, which will complement the tourist offer of this city. All this will be done in Ćiro train.