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by Ollie Woods from “Red star, black gold” project on lensculture

“I had come to a remote part of north eastern China to photograph one of the last working steam railways left in the world”

– Ollie Woods

The railway is in a vast open cast coal mine in Inner Mongolia. Many of the trains are based on an American design from the 1920s, which were still being built in China until about a decade ago. But by spring this year all the trains in the mine were finally scrapped, passed over as inefficient and costly, and replaced by modern dump trucks.

The mining town is called Zhalai Nouer.
The town is rich in coal, and its main landmark is a massive open cast coal mine, nearly four kilometers long, called Lutien mine. There were still around forty steam trains working day and night in the mine when I was there. But in the past, more than double that number had operated in the pit.

The mine is built as a series of steps, with track that runs in rings leading down to the bottom. In recent years the mine had become an attraction for railway enthusiasts from all over the world: Australia, South Africa, Germany, Britain and America. Now they were lamenting the imminent passing of the trains. “It’s the last great steam show left on earth,” one of them told me mournfully.

Red Star,
Black Gold

photographs and text by

Ollie Woods

I had come to a remote part of north eastern China to photograph one of the last working steam railways left in the world.

The railway is in a vast open cast coal mine in Inner Mongolia. Many of the trains are based on an American design from the 1920s, which were still being built in China until about a decade ago. But by spring this year all the trains in the mine were finally scrapped, passed over as inefficient and costly, and replaced by modern dump trucks.

The mining town is called Zhalai Nouer.
The town is rich in coal, and its main landmark is a massive open cast coal mine, nearly four kilometers long, called Lutien mine. There were still around forty steam trains working day and night in the mine when I was there. But in the past, more than double that number had operated in the pit.

The mine is built as a series of steps, with track that runs in rings leading down to the bottom. In recent years the mine had become an attraction for railway enthusiasts from all over the world: Australia, South Africa, Germany, Britain and America. Now they were lamenting the imminent passing of the trains. “It’s the last great steam show left on earth,” one of them told me mournfully.

I had come to a remote part of north eastern China to photograph one of the last working steam railways left in the world.

The railway is in a vast open cast coal mine in Inner Mongolia. Many of the trains are based on an American design from the 1920s, which were still being built in China until about a decade ago. But by spring this year all the trains in the mine were finally scrapped, passed over as inefficient and costly, and replaced by modern dump trucks.

The mining town is called Zhalai Nouer.
The town is rich in coal, and its main landmark is a massive open cast coal mine, nearly four kilometers long, called Lutien mine. There were still around forty steam trains working day and night in the mine when I was there. But in the past, more than double that number had operated in the pit.

The mine is built as a series of steps, with track that runs in rings leading down to the bottom. In recent years the mine had become an attraction for railway enthusiasts from all over the world: Australia, South Africa, Germany, Britain and America. Now they were lamenting the imminent passing of the trains. “It’s the last great steam show left on earth,” one of them told me mournfully.

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