This video chronicles the adventures of Iowa Interstate's Chinese "QJ" steam locomotive #7081, as it pulled multiple excursion trains along the former Rock Island mainline in summer 2013. The program begins outside Atlantic, Iowa, for round-trip runs to nearby Anita on June 8th as a fire department fundraiser. The next day, the locomotive makes an exciting dead-head run east towards Newton in both sunny skies and rain. Fast-forward two months, and the QJ is back in action in Illinois, pulling more excursion trains during Geneseo's "Trains, Planes and Automobiles" event on September 7th, and then heads east to Bureau to prepare for more trains the following day. When the QJ makes its way west to the Quad Cities, we join its final dead-head run of the year, as it crosses the Mississippi River, eventually returning to Newton on September 9th.
We'll see the QJ at countless spots along the tracks during our four days on the Iowa Interstate. Points of interest include:
- Site of the first train robbery of the west, outside Adair, IA
- Former Rock Island "ghost" signals between Anita and Atlantic, IA
- Pacing the QJ between Atlantic and Anita, IA, and Atkinson and Annawan, IL
- Hennepin Canal State Park, Wyanet, IL
- Mississippi River crossing on the Government Bridge, Davenport, IA
- Iowa River, Iowa City, IA
- Diamond crossing with UP in Grinnell, IA, next to former Rock Island station
Also included in the video is each excursion's return trip, with Iowa Interstate GP38-2 diesels in charge. In Geneseo, I rode the train on one of the excursions providing some views inside the cars, and passing Illinois scenery. I also caught the regular IAIS eastbound freight train, CBBI, in both Anita, IA and Rock Island.
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