China - A Life Chasing Trains


When I retired in 2000, I had been hearing bits and pieces about steam in China.  But China was far away and very mysterious.  But it was the last real mainline steam in the world and I wanted to see it while it lasted. I took the safe route and signed up with a railfan tour group.  My first trip in March 2001 lead to a total of nine trips between then and 2007.  Steam was already on its way out in 2001, and China Rail, the national system, had already retired all its steamers.  But a new mainline from Tongliao to Jining was separate from China Rail and still steam powered.  And it put on quite a show crossing a mountain pass with doubleheaded 2-10-2's.  In addition there were numerous steam powered local and industrial railroads, and still a few narrow gauge lines.  By 2007 it was almost all gone.  A few pockets of steam remain even as I write this in 2017, but not enough for me to justify another long trip. These images are what I found from 2001 to 2007.