Steam train surprises in the jungle

KTMphil

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Chiang Mai, Thailand
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It's funny how the most unexpected things turn up when you're not looking for something. As far as I know, this steam train is pretty much undiscovered and what a gem it is.


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KTMphil

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Chiang Mai, Thailand
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Missed the N.O.B boys for various reasons, so went and got some new trail data for Auke for the North Thailand Road & Off-Road Map. Tracks are below:


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jb2112

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That would look great parked in front of the restaurant.
Do the locomotion!
 

KTMphil

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Little bit of light rain about, a few muddy puddles but nothing too bad. All the rain, everywhere was bright green.


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Always fun poking around areas you've never been before, always surprises around the next bend. What do we have here?


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Couldn't work out if this was a weekend family retreat for some wealthy Thais, or a new resort being developed, it was spectacular!

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The lake water was immaculately clean, even had an emerald tint to it, great for swimming



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KTMphil

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Between the rain showers the viz was great, all new areas and all new views, nothing like it.


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From high up, you can spot better where you want to head next. From the VP above I could see my next trail, the one below:


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KTMphil

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Orange and green in the jungle

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Tried to get up one of the mountains to the west, every road up there was blocked, quite interesting - might just be to keep the cows in.


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KTMphil

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Then riding along, everything looks pretty normal & this catches my eye.



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What a hidden BEAUTY!


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The coal-fired, steam boiler inside the trains cockpit


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KTMphil

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Poke around a bit more and there's about 4 train carriages around, looks like they maybe being used as houses


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KTMphil

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Heavy rain shower comes through, this one makes me stop and find shelter, luckily found a farmers resting and lunch hut up one of the mountains

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On the way down, some locals making charcoal, by burning wood with only a very small amount of supplied oxygen (oxygen is supplied through the porous ground and through the exhaust holes)


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KTMphil

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Back down to civilization and the beautiful Wat Ban Pong and the foot of the mountains

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Up the mountain , behind Wat Ban Pong, they are reconstructing/ renovating an old Wat, this might be Wat Aranyawat


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KTMphil

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Back down the mountain & the first shoots of this rice crop are just starting to poke their heads up. A rice crop takes about 3 months to grow, in areas where water is plentiful, farmers can produce 3 rice crops a year.


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KTMphil

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A really great day out - a few more steam train photo's as this thing is so awesome, I want to try get Danny (the photographer out there to get some shots of this train)train 2.jpg2012-08-03_143714.jpg2012-08-03_143001.jpg2012-08-03_142758.jpg2012-08-03_143148.jpgtrain 3.jpgtrain 1.jpg2012-08-03_142239.jpg2012-08-03_144013.jpg
 

Lone Rider

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Aha, Locomotive 744 which had gone missing. According to Preserved / Extant Steam Locos and Steam Cranes in Thailand this locomotive was standing somewhere in Mae Jo from where it disappeared (Stood for several years (1992) on the road to Mae Jo in Chiang Mai with 2 old coaches). Have just sent the webmaster of International Steam an email message with the location where they can find their "lost" locomotive and hope they will rescue it and restore it in its old glory.
 

jb2112

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Great, Phil has rescued a steam train. We'll never hear the end of it.
 

Ally

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Aha, Locomotive 744 which had gone missing. According to Preserved / Extant Steam Locos and Steam Cranes in Thailand this locomotive was standing somewhere in Mae Jo from where it disappeared (Stood for several years (1992) on the road to Mae Jo in Chiang Mai with 2 old coaches). Have just sent the webmaster of International Steam an email message with the location where they can find their "lost" locomotive and hope they will rescue it and restore it in its old glory.

Ha ha !! It's not as if this huge monster could be sneaked away without people knowing !

Great find Phil, that pocket tucked away in the valley there is a real treasure chest ;)

Ally
 

Captain_Slash

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A good interesting days riding there Phil, plus an exciting discovery
 

Lone Rider

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The steam guys are quite happy with Phil's find. Here is the reply I got from them:

Many thanks for this, you bikers turn up all sorts of bits and pieces for steam enthusiasts, I recall a steam roller in Laos which is on one of the sites but for which we don't have a location yet.

Anyway, by the time you read this I will have amended the entry for 744 which had been shown as 'Unknown' following its disappearance from Mae Jo. I've passed your email to the #1 researcher at Preserved / Extant Steam Locos and Steam Cranes in Thailand

Thanks again and keep your eyes open for other steam relics. I've got friends who are very interested in old steam rollers. Those we know about in Thailand are shown here:
Preserved Steam Rollers and other Steam Engines in Thailand
I'm sure there are more, the Highways Department offices in most major towns and cities are a good place to start, you'll see there are a couple in and near Chiang Mai.

Some information on the loc you found: It's one of quite a number of Japanese locos which were sent to Thailand during WW2, several of which survive today in preservation (all those numbered 7xx in the list on my website, 10 in Thailand, 2 have been repatriated to Japan). The most accessible one is that sitting on the platform at Bangkok main station.

They were lightweight and particularly suitable for the Death Railway where they continued to work until the 1970s - I photographed one of them on the famous Kwai Bridge just before they finished.
 

Lone Rider

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I would have thought Don has come across some equipment they would be interested in.
Yeah, guess with his travelling to all the places in Laos he may have seen quite a few golden oldies not only the SAM's, tanks, temples, etc. but probably also steam powered stuff.
 

KTMphil

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I thought this was interesting regarding steam locomotive #744 hidden in the Chiang Mai mountains:


"It's one of quite a number of Japanese locos which were sent to Thailand during WW2, several of which survive today in preservation (all those numbered 7xx in the list on my website, 10 in Thailand, 2 have been repatriated to Japan). The most accessible one is that sitting on the platform at Bangkok main station."



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KTMphil

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Auke got this email from the steam train enthusiasts & some photo's of Locomotive #744 from its former condition:



"Hello Auke,
Rob Dickinson of Internationalsteam.co.uk has just forwarded me your fantastic discovery of the "missing" Kawasaki 2-6-0 loco, which I've been searching for, over the past couple of years or so. It was originally plinthed, with 2 carriages under the canopy of a replica station, advertising a new resort being built alongside the main road to Mae Jo, north of Chiang Mae, in 1992 & not seen since ! I attach some photos taken over 20 years ago in by my Dutch railfan friend Robert von Hirschhorn, who now lives permanently in the city & who joined me in my unsuccessful search a couple of years ago. He runs a very interesting website "Railasia" under the name Rob Boer, which is well worth a look at, if you are interested.

I also attach a PDF copy of my guide to Thailand's Surviving Steam Locomotives, together with my recent update, which you may also find of interest. I am in the process of a complete revision of this guide, together with separate guides to Vietnam, Laos & Cambodia & would very much like to incorporate one or two of your photographs in my Thailand one. I also hope to feature your discovery in my forthcoming illustrated "Thai Steam Today" update & would very much appreciate your permission to use some of your photos. You would of course be fully credited for the photos & your copyright noted, as for others, in my existing guide.

I am currently at my home in France, having cancer treatment, but will be returning to Khon Kaen, N.E.Thailand (where I spend most of my time with my Thai wife & family) early October, when I plan to visit my friends in Chiang Mai & search out this almost forgotten loco (incidently the only surviving Kawasaki C56 type loco remaining in all S.E.Asia, I believe) -
Best regards,


Mike Pass."

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Midnitemapper

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Everyone likes old trains, these working relics are in any train station in Thailand.

At present, Thailand's rail network covers 47 provinces, totaling 4,043 km of rail track. However, 65% of the tracks were laid more than 34 years ago.
Odon railway station


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Captain_Slash

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Really enjoying how this story is developing.

Me too, what will happen to the train, will it be put back in Mae Jo or is it going to just disappear because an influential person wants it?
 

Lone Rider

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Nah, they have already one at the station and I guess that the owner will not sell it even though he is not really doing a lot to keep it in good shape.
 

2wheels

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And this from today's Chiang Mai Mail, thanks to Shana.

"Death Railway train re-discovered
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The old Japanese Kawasaki steam train sits undercover on private property some 35km from Chiang Mai city. (Photos courtesy of Phil Gibbins)
Shana Kongmun

An antique Japanese train that was used on the infamous Death Railway in Kanchanaburi and made its way to Chiang Mai only to disappear from train enthusiasts' radar 20 years ago was found 25 kilometers south west of Chiang Mai on Highway 1269 by Phil Gibbins of Rider's Corner sitting under a small roofed in area with four carriages nearby.

A quick contact with some Thailand based train enthusiasts yields the results that this 1936 Kawasaki steam engine was shipped over to Thailand by the Japanese for use during World War II, ferrying troops and munitions to Burma. These steam engines were quite durable and in use until the 1980's. Two locomotives remain in Kanchanaburi and are pulled out for operation during River Kwai Festival in December. This particular engine was renamed the 744 after the Japanese left Thailand and was used for a further 25 years by the State Railway of Thailand.

Last seen in 1992-93 on the Mae Jo road outside a now defunct property development, or rather one that never quite got off the ground called Lanna Hill View, the engine was on display complete with carriages and a purpose built "station cover". Mike Pass of Rail Asia said that train enthusiasts have been wondering about the disappearance of this mighty engine for many years and indeed Robert Tilley of the Writer's Club even covered this steam engine in an article in Guidelines last year.

According to Mike Pass, nine of these locomotives remain preserved in Thailand while two of them were sent back to Japan one of which is still in use on the Oigawa tourist line from Tokyo to Nagoya and the other, the first locomotive to run on the Siam Burma railway, is set at Yasukuni shrine in Tokyo. The 744 was built in 1936 and is believed to be the only remaining survivor of Kawasaki production in South East Asia.

"It's very 'Alice in Wonderland', this decaying resort and the carriages look as though they are lived in," Phil said. He noted that the steam engine remains under a roof but grass and vines are growing up and around the old locomotive.

He added that it was too bad to see such an important piece of Thailand's history decaying out in the jungle.

The Japanese Consulate General is currently investigating the old train and will issue a release when more information is uncovered.

Phil Gibbins is a dedicated motorcyclist who started RideAsia forum, a non -commercial motorcycle enthusiasts community based forum. It was here that he posted the photos of his find and here that fellow motorcyclists help him contact the train buffs. Phil, an affable Londoner, has been living in Chiang Mai for 3 years and with his wife has Rider's Corner, which can't be missed right on the North East corner inside the moat. "

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