450 Years Since the Foundation of Santa Cruz: From Oxcarts to Cars

The most traditional form of transportation in Santa Cruz de la Sierra was the carretón (a horse or ox-drawn cart or wagon), a variation of European carriages adapted to the sandy and muddy terrain of the Bolivian orient, drawn by one or more pairs of ox joined by a yoke. Due to its isolated location and the lack of roads, automobiles arrived much later to this city: Ángel Sandoval Peña made history on 25 September 1919 when he arrived with a 1912 model Voitturete Ford.

The first street was "paved" in 1966 (with cobblestones). Prior to this, many carretones circulated. They were rented out to help take loads of groceries home from the markets.

Mario Franco, who wrote "Choferes y el Progreso Cruceño" noted that the precursor of transportation was Guillermo Weise Wagner who, in 1912, returned from his native Germany with an automobile vía Buenos Aires. He shipped it by river to Puerto Suárez. However, by the second day of the trip from Puerto Suárez, he decided against continuing.

The first bicycle to take to the sandy streets of Santa Cruz was brought by a salesman named Leoncio Soria Galvarro in 1908. He sold it to Antonio Velasco and Enrique Finot.

Later, in 1918, José Manuel Sánchez purchased a Harley Davidson motorcycle in Buenos Aires. The sound of its motor used to cause fear among the neighbors.

After representing Eastern Bolivia as a national delegate for five years, Ángel Sandoval decided to introduce the first automobile to the capital of Santa Cruz and became known as "El Audáz" (the Daring One). He began his trip on 31 August 1919 and after several mishaps and a 125-league trip, he arrived in Santa Cruz in the afternoon of 25 September.


- Carts and Carriages. Until the 1960's carts and carriages were plentiful and were rented out near markets, such as La Recova.

- Colectivo (bus, sort of). The first truck to be fitted with benches in an attempt to convert it into a bus belonged to Carlos Amelunge. It was a one-ton capacity 4-cylinder Chevrolet purchased in Cochabamba in 1926.

- Motorcycle. José Manuel Sánchez Balcazár entered Bolivia on a motorcycle in an area where roads were in poor condition. Once in Santa Cruz it caused great fear among the neighbors.

- Bicycle. The first bicycle of was British manufacture and was purchased by Finot and Velasco who took turns using it.

The city of Santa Cruz will celebrate the 450th year of its foundation on the 26th of February.

Source: El Deber
Date: 10 Feb. 2011

This is a translation. Read this Article in Spanish here.

See more on the city's history and what Santa Cruz looked like prior to 1980.

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