Iowa Bolt #6988 to run excursion trains Labor Day Weekend to promote railway safety

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DES MOINES, IOWA – Central States Steam Preservation Association (CSSPA) and the Iowa Interstate Railroad, in partnership with Operation Lifesaver and the Science Center of Iowa, will run short passenger trips out of downtown Des Moines with the Iowa Bolt #6988 this Labor Day Weekend. 

This event will put Operation Lifesaver, at the forefront of the weekend to promote railway safety; as well as an opportunity for the public to see and learn about steam and its history.  CSSPA is also pleased to partner with the Science Center of Iowa, a non-profit with the similar mission of engaging and educating Iowans along their journey of lifelong science learning. 

Riders will be able to enjoy an operating display from Operation Lifesaver to learn about railway safety, and a trip to the Iowa countryside behind the Iowa Bolt #6988 as a part of this event.  They can also enjoy the rest of what the Science Center of Iowa has to offer, such as a Mini Makers Fair on Monday, September 6, for an additional fee.

The Iowa Bolt #6988 will be on static display for the public (at no fee for visitors) on Saturday, September 4, between 11:00 a.m. and 4:00 p.m. outside the Science Center of Iowa on 4th street. 

For those looking forward to this iconic ride behind steam, the train will make five runs on Sunday, September 5, between 9:00 a.m. and 3:00 p.m., and four runs on Monday, September 6, between 9:00 a.m. and 1:30 p.m.  Each train ride will last approximately 50 minutes and will depart from 4th Street in front of the Science Center of Iowa. For more information and to purchase tickets, please visit the Science Center of Iowa’s website:

Volunteer group founded to operate renown steam locomotives

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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.