Found In the Woods

October 4, 2005

The Last Mainline Steam RR in the World

Filed under: Blogging,Railroading — bsullivan @ 3:39 pm

Railfan, photographer, blogger Scott Lothes is in Northeastern China right now documenting the last remaining mainline steam operation in the world. This is proving to be quite an interesting journey, one which he’s documenting on his blog, World Scott. Thank goodness, because thousands of us can ill afford the fare and time it takes to endure such a journey. Yet it is all of us who love steam and the lore of the era who will live vicariously through Scott’s words. Here is an excerpt:

At 6:00 this morning, our group, now 20 strong with the addition of
nine others the previous day, gathered at trackside a few miles west
of Chabuga. The new sun was orange in the sky, the wind was low and
the air crisp and cool. A plume of steam billowed on the horizon, and
then a locomotive came into a view. Behind it followed a freight
train. Not some photographers’ special touristy freight train, but a
real freight train of cars with loads and destinations, paid for by
customers and powered by steam. It was the first of 15 trains we woud
see in the next twelve hours, every single one of them powered by
burning coal to boil water to make steam to turn rod-coupled driving
wheels. True, they’re just machines, and the diesels that will replace
them in a month will do the exact same job and serve the exact same
purpose, but as the rods flash, the red wheels turn, the whistle hoots
and the steam hisses and seethes from every pore, I can still catch a
fleeting glimpse into that childhood sense of wonder when these
machines lived and breathed in my dreams.

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