Skip to main content Skip to search Skip to search

Transportation History

The Last Steam Railways

Volume 1: The People's Republic of China

by (author) Robert D. Turner

Harbour Publishing Co. Ltd.
Initial publish date
Oct 2022
History, China, Pictorial
  • Hardback

    Publish Date
    Oct 2022
    List Price

Add it to your shelf

Where to buy it


A spectacular, historical perspective and photographic gallery of the last working steam railways in China—the world’s largest major concentration of steam locomotives in the 21st Century.

In the last half of the 1900s, China built ten thousand coal-burning steam locomotives across the country. These powerful engines ran in a variety of settings, from an open cast coal mine near the Siberian border to the semi-tropical remote hills of Sichuan, powering passenger trains that stretched one thousand kilometres across Inner Mongolia and pulling the local trains on forestry railways in the countryside of northern China.

Then, in 2001, Chinese Railways retired almost all its steam locomotives. Nonetheless, some regional, local and industrial operations continued using steam for another decade or more. The photographs and photo essays in this book are a result of visits to dozens of these often-remote railways where steam was still being used. They highlight the skills of workers as they overhauled and maintained the locomotives and reflect on the lives of the people who depended upon them in a rapidly changing world.

The Last Steam Railways: Volume I chronicles the last two decades of China’s fascinating and picturesque steam railways in a visually dramatic and authoritative presentation. This is the first of three volumes that take the story of the last steam railways across Asia, Africa, Europe, and the Americas. With over five hundred original colour photographs, graphics, maps and tables, this is a spectacular addition to any history collection.

About the author

Robert D. Turner has been researching, photographing and writing about transportation history for over forty years. His photos have been widely published and he has written hundreds of articles and reviews. The Klondike Gold Rush Steamers is his eighteenth book. Turner has been recognized with numerous awards, including the Canadian Railroad Historical Association’s Lifetime Achievement Award and the American Association for State and Local History’s Award of Merit. A retired heritage consultant and a curator emeritus at the Royal British Columbia Museum, Turner has travelled widely around the world photographing The Last Steam Railways and early industries while documenting the people, places and stories of this disappearing history and culture. He lives in Victoria, BC.

Robert D. Turner's profile page

Other titles by Robert D. Turner