NEWTON, IOWA – Volunteers with a passion for railroad technology and history have formed a new organization to look after two historically significant steam locomotives.
The Central States Steam Preservation Association (CSSPA) is a non-profit corporation established to assume the preservation, maintenance, and operation of two Chinese-built “QJ”-class steam locomotives.
Originally imported to the United States by the Railroad Development Corporation (RDC) in 2006, the QJs have since operated special passenger trains and appeared in public exhibition on the Iowa Interstate (IAIS). The locomotives, numbered 6988 and 7081, were among the last used in regular service, with the latter hauling the world’s last regularly scheduled mainline steam passenger train. RDC is in the process of transferring ownership of the locomotives to CSSPA.
“The QJs are important parts of world railway history, and in particular the Midwest’s rail history. I am gratified that the Central States Steam organization has taken the QJs under their wing,” stated Henry Posner, Chairman of IAIS and RDC.
Members of the CSSPA envision future partnerships with the IAIS and other host railroads as part of a broader historical and educational effort in the Iowa and eastern Illinois regions, though the QJs may not be limited to just the Great Plains. “We will explore opportunities anywhere in the country,” explained Steve Haack, president of the CSSPA. “The overriding goal behind this effort is to keep the steam engines operating and available to the public.”
The CSSPA is currently accepting memberships and donations to underwrite the annual maintenance and continued operation of the locomotives.
The organization can be reached via email.