Anshan is the home of what is one of China's earliest steelworks.   The entire town and surrounding area is dominated by this
huge plant which covers over 15 square kilometres and employs close to half a million people.  The main area features 11
blast furnaces and 3 steel making plants and, like many other large industrial concerns in China, has its own internal railway
system.  Although now dominated by large numbers of diesel and electric locomotives the railway used to have a fleet of
about 50 steam locomotives, mainly Class SY 2-8-2's but also some rarer YJ class engines, some JS class engines and a few
PL2 's.

Until 1999 visiting enthusiasts were able to inspect locomotives under repair in the workshops, watch shunting taking place
around the blast furnace area and then watch the incredible spectacle of molten slag being tipped from cauldron wagons
onto the waste tips surrounding the site.(see below)

This was truly one of the most spectacular sights in China but unfortunately an accident resulting in the death of a Japanese
visitor resulted in the slag tip and workshops being placed 'out of bounds' to visitors.  Incredibly it is still possible to watch
molten metal being poured into wagons, from close quarters, at the blast furnace and then watch the loaded wagons being
removed by one of the fleet of locomotives at work in the area.  
Shafts of sunlight are barely able
to penetrate the murky interior
of the locomotive repair shop at
Anshan.  Such locations were
always of great interest but were
often 'out of bounds' to foreign
"Now we take you to see
something very special", said our
local guide and we headed off to
watch the dumping of molten slag
which has come from the blast
furnaces.  Class SY 2-8-2 No.0436
heads a train of cauldron wagons
towards the slag dumping tip
Something special?  What an
understatement that turned out to
be!  The actual tipping process
took some considerable time with
wagons being emptied two at a
time.  During the journey a thin
crust of solidified rock had formed
across the surface and this had to
be broken up using a crane with a
ball.  The wagons were then tipped
and the molten rock flowed down
the side of the bank.  Even from a
'safe distance' it was possible to
feel the enormous blast of heat as
the wagons began to discharge
their load of molten slag.  A nearby
lake was the only unfrozen
expanse of water for miles around
- a testament to the effect of the

Once most of the molten rock had
been emptied from the wagons the
crane was employed again - this
time to dislodge the solidified
material around the sides of the
wagon.  Once this had been
completed the next pair of wagons
were empted .... and so it
continued until the very last
wagons had discharged their load.  
It was a totally compelling
spectacle which even these
pictures fail to truely convey.

Sadly the death of a Japanese
visitor brought an end to visits to
this particular part of the site
shortly after our own visit and only
long distance views were available
to future visitors
A pair of JS class locomotives
standing outside the repair shops
at Anshan steelworks on 8th
January 1999.  Anshan had a
very varied fleet of locomotives -
one of its great attractions
SY0834 standing inside the
repair shop at Anshan.  The
combination of low light, steam,
smoke and dust made
photogrphy extremely difficult in
1999.  How different it might
have been with a digital camera!
In sadly derelict condition and
unlikely ever to turn a wheel
again, was PL2242 found outside
on what appeared to be a scrap
road of unwanted or
unserviceable locomotives.
Equally unlikely to see a return to
steam was YJ238 covered in a
mixture of sand and ash and
gently rotting away.  Behind it in
the same line but not in a position
to be photographed was a USA
tank 0-6-0
Pollution levels in Anshan were
unbelievably high and so a visit
to the slag tipping was arranged
for the morning whilst skies
remained reasonably blue and
smog levels had not yet begun to
obliterate the sun.  SY0436 nears
journey's end and the start of the
tipping process.
The final part of our visit was to one of the blast furnace areas.  Here a number of locomotives were in constant use - either hauling
away wagons of molten slag or else wagons full of molten steel.  In front of one of the furnaces two SY's and a YJ shunt a variey of
cauldron wagons whilst on the left YJ No.286 propels a rake of cauldron wagons full of molten slag away from the furnace.   It was a
fascinating sight - unlike anything one could hope to see in any other part of the world.  The increasing pollution was making
photography ever more difficult and there was even a 'taste' to the air itself.   The incredible levels of pollution created by the steel
plant means that sunshine is a rare commodity which rapidly disappears as the day wears on.  Frequently the air over the city is a
fetching shade of orange covering the entire area in a fine layer of grime!
2-8-2 SY0571 backing down
towards the blast furnaces - this
was one of four engines working
in and around this particular
Also hard at work was a much
rarer beast - YJ289.  This was the
only occasion that I saw a YJ
class engine at work and indeed
the number of classes of engines
still known to be at work by the
end of the C20th was very limited
indeed - four classes of standard
gauge engines and one class of
narrow gauge
Although not a very well lit shot,
this view of YJ289 clearly shows its
smaller 2-6-2 wheel arrangement.  
The tenders are cut down at the
rear to allow for clearer vision
when shunting in limited yards.
The furnaces of the steel plant were changed in December 2000, with all three production lines switching from mould-casting
to continuous casting. This new technology has significantly reduced the dust and other pollution in the city.   According to
Wikipedia  this new plant equipment is also much less labour intensive and this has  led to a reduction in the workforce which
has caused an unemployment problem in the city.  A new drive to market Anshan as a tourist destination is hoped to help
bolster the city's economy.   Tour of the steelworks anyone?
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