China Steam Locomotives, 1983 (中国蒸汽机车 1983年)
At 1983, China's various railways operated more than 10,000 steam locomotives. China also had the "world's last" steam locomotive factories (the best known of which was at Datong). I had little additional information about steam. My "primary" transport interest was urban transport, but I did not hesitate to photograph steam locomotives wherever I saw them.

Chinese authorities appeared unconcerned when "foreign friends" photographed steam locomotives and other "railway" subjects.

In fact, "unconcerned" was an understatement. I quickly learned that railway workers and police "couldn't care less" about railway photography.

This was a remarkable contrast with Eastern Europe and the Soviet Union "back then." (Unfortunately, it is also a sharp contrast with the U.S. today.)

At 1983, information about "where to go" to see steam locomotives in China had already become available from "foreign" sources. A foreign "gricer" ("railway enthusiast") having such information and the ability to communicate in Chinese (... together with time, and financing ...), might have compiled a fabulous photographic record.

However, I believe that 1983 might have been several years too early for such an undertaking. Most major cities and tourist attractions were "open," but foreigners had to obtain an "alien's travel permit" for other destinations. This could be difficult - and was sometimes not possible, for no apparent reason.

The "Chinese Locomotive Lists" page on the "Railography" website ( was a very useful reference for identification of Chinese steam locomotives.
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