This locomotive gets little attention, and it deserves more. There are few places in the U.S. today where you can see mainline standard gauge steam in operation. This regional railroad, the Iowa Interstate Railroad owns 2 of these 2-10-2's, and the 6988 has been modified to look a bit more American. The QJ class 2-10-2's were the famous and widely used class in China which had steam running until around 2010 or so. We will learn about the history of the QJ class with some actual shots in China, plus learn about its coming to America.
We begin with a May 2019 break-in run for 6988 which departs from its home base of Newton, Iowa. The engine pulls freight cars, and periodic stops were made to inspect the engine. The train ran east to South Amana yard, where everything was turned for the trip back to Newton. We get several nice runbys, as well as pacing views beside the engine. The engine had several whistles on this day and we hear them all. This was an unpublicized train, thus few photographers knew about it.
Now we fast-forward to August 2021, and are back in Iowa. 6988 has a passenger consist, and we start the day with the early morning (6:45 am) departure from South Amana eastward to Wilton. There were some nice shots on this morning run including some at speed. At Wilton there were 4 short excursions that were run eastward. A diesel was on the rear to pull the train back west to Wilton after the 6988 put on a show going east from town. On each run the train would back out of Wilton westward, and then come roaring through town with the passengers onboard. It was quite the show, and we capture this 2 to 3 times. We get 2 shots on a couple of the trips. We also learn more history between trips, and see some nice close-ups of the engine, and some engine servicing.
If all that wasn't enough we have included another QJ, number 2008, operating on a train of sand cars in 2012. The engine was owned by the R.J, Corman Company in Louisville, Kentucky, and ran only a few times during its tenure on the railroad. This run is on former Louisville & Nashville trackage from Lexington to a wye at Christiansburg. We get good coverage of this in both directions, including turning, and runbys. Again this was not a public event so only a few knew about the run. This segment is a great addition to the 6988 material. It was a rare operation of the engine. Some may not like these so-called "Foreign" engines, but the action is great and its still steam on U.S. mainlines.