The Central States Steam Preservation Association was incorporated as a non-profit in the State of Iowa on August 6, 2014, by a group of volunteers, who had been coming in from all parts of the USA to help maintain and operate two Chinese built QJ Class locomotives for the Iowa Interstate Railroad (IAIS). For seven years, after bringing them to the US in 2006, the locomotives were mostly used at community events in towns served by the railroad. However, in fall of 2013, it was decided by the management and directors of the IAIS, that the steam program would be shut down. One of the driving reasons was concern over the liability and insurance problems of using volunteers, not employees. At this point the locomotives went into storage and their fate became very uncertain.
Not wanting to see all of the goodwill and community relationships that they helped create for the IAIS, or possibly see the locomotives never operate again or leave the region, the volunteers decided to form a non-profit organization with the intention to take possession of the locomotives and move them to our own location, off of IAIS property. This effort is already well under way with several promising opportunities. We have negotiated agreements with the railroad and RDC Corporation, owner of IAIS and the locomotives, to perform the annual maintenance required on one of the locomotives (#6988), in order pass FRA inspection prior to operating again. All of the major work is nearly completed and plans are being made to operate again by the Fall of 2015 or beginning in the Spring of 2016.
Currently we are seeking volunteers, donations, sponsors, business, and community partners who wish to help. Our common motivation is giving people the chance to still see, hear, and feel the awe inspiring presence of a steam locomotive in motion. These engines were not “Made in the USA” but they are historically relevant; have been preserved and improved upon by American volunteers; and have established their own legacy in the communities they’ve been a part of since coming here.
Most of the credit is due the Iowa Interstate Railroad and RDC Corporation for the locomotive’s history in the USA listed below. However, the volunteers were there from the beginning and many are members of our organization today.
RI4 One of QJ’s first appearances opening the new Riverwalk in downtown Rock Island
RI 7 top of tender West Liberty-2006
July 2010: marked the first of many community benefits where the majority of the proceeds are kept by the local, mostly volunteer emergency responders. The day before was between Earlham and Stuart, IA. (#7081)
November 10-14 2010: Golden Spike Commemoration-Omaha, NE (# 7081) On display with Union Pacific engine #844.
July 5-10 2011: Kellogg-Colfax Fireman’s Trips
July 12-27 2011 Trainfest 2011 – Rock Island: (#6988 & #7081) Both engines on display and running short and long excursions over a four day festival held in downtown Rock Island.
Volunteer conductors talking to a group of Boy Scouts (#6988)
Sept. 10 2011 Geneseo, IL: Planes, Trains, & Automobiles, (#6988) The QJ’s have played a big part in the success of the annual one-day event.
May 29 – June 5, 2012: Newton-Mitchelville Fireman’s Trips, (#6988)
June 12-23 2012: East Liberty-Durrant, Iowa Fireman’s Trips, (#6988)
June 13-23 2012: National Railroad Historical Society Convention, (#6988)
June 5-9 2013: Atlantic-Anita Fireman’s Trips, (#7081)
Sept. 5-10 2013: Geneseo Planes, Trains, & Automobiles, (#7081)
Sept. 5-10 2013: Tiskawa – Sheffield Fireman’s Trips,(# 7081)