Posts Tagged ‘Little River Railroad’

Open House Set for Restored N&W Business Car

October 5, 2021

An open house has been set for Oct. 9 from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. in Valparaiso, Indiana, to mark the completion of restoration of Norfolk & Western business car 300.

Built in 1917 by the Pullman Company for the United States Railroad Administration, the N&W purchased the car in 1920.

It operated for N&W successor Norfolk Southern through 1987 when it was deemed surplus and sold.

The restoration has been overseen by current owner Norfolk & Western Business Car 300 Preservation Society.

The restoration work included interior work as the car sat on a siding in Valparaiso.

Bryan Lalevee of the society spent three years negotiating with the previous owner of the car who eventually agreed to donate it to the society.

Lalevee also created a plan for its restoration. “It has been intensely gratifying to save a piece of railroad history that really deserved to be saved,” Lalevee said. 

The car had been rebuilt in 1988 to meet Amtrak standards but had been placed in storage in 1991.

Although the car’s exterior was described as being in excellent condition, the interior had sustained mold damage.

Volunteers stripped the interior, painted it, installed in new flooring and carpet, and restored the window shades.

They also restored the generator to enable lights and other appliances to be able to operate again.

The open house will be held

 “It was so awesome to know that this car was alive again,” he said. 

The car will be moved later this month to the Little River Railroad in Coldwater, Michigan, which plans to operate it on excursion trains.

Directions to the open house site can be at www.nw300.org./oenhouse/

Steam Saturday: The Ladies in the Cab on the Little River Railroad

April 10, 2021

Earlier this year the Strasburg Rail Road sent out a steam train with an all female engine operating crew of an engineer and fireman.

It got some attention from the railfan press but was not the first time that a steam train had women in control in the cab.

I witnessed an all female engine crew on the Little River Railroad at Coldwater, Michigan, on June 24,2012.

Ursula was able to get video of both the engineer and the fireman while I was pacing it. Here are some photographs from that chase.

Photographs by Edward Ribinskas

Ex-N&W Business Car Being Restored, Will Run in Michigan

October 14, 2020

A former Norfolk & Western business car has been sent to Valparaiso, Indiana, for additional restoration work before moving to excursion service in Michigan.

N&W No. 300 was built in 1917 and had been stored inside a warehouse since 1991.

The car is expected to be pulled by Little River Railroad excursion trains out of Coldwater, Michigan, once the restoration efforts have been completed.

Remembering the Owosso Train Festival of July 2009

July 28, 2019

Southern Pacific Daylight 4449 returns to Owosso in late afternoon after an day trip to Alma and back on the former Ann Arbor Railroad.

It was 10 years ago this month that 36,000 people flocked to Train Festival 2009 held in Owosso, Michigan.

There was something for everyone, ranging from three mainline steam locomotives in steam to excursions to a Lego model railroad layout.

The event, held at the home of the Steam Railroading Institute, had its share of glitches, including rain, long lines to tour the steam locomotive cabs and a mechanical breakdown of SRI’s own steamer, Pere Marquette No. 1225.

Aside from Railfair 1999 in Sacramento, California, it was one of the most comprehensive railfan-oriented events I’ve ever attended.

A number of Akron Railroad Club members attended the event, which was held July 23-26.

I originally wasn’t going to attend the festival until I figured out a way to do it on the cheap.

My wife had a cousin who lived near Flint, Michigan, which is about 30 to 45 minutes from Owosso.

Dan was agreeable to going with me to the festival and I could stay at his house, thus avoiding lodging expenses.

The festival officially opened on July 24, but everything was up and running on July 23, a Thursday, and the day I was there.

After parking, Dan and I walked to a location north of the festival so I could photograph the day excursion being pulled by former Southern Pacific Daylight 4-8-4 No. 4449.

Getting open view of the Daylight and its train wasn’t a problem, but rain and overcast skies were.

I was still using slide film and I didn’t have enough film speed to make good images. My photographs turned out dark and a little blurry.

Then it was on to the festival itself, which featured the 1225, Nickel Plate Road 2-8-4 No. 765, Leviathan 4-4-0  No. 63, three 0-4-0T switchers (Flagg Coal Company 75, Little River Railroad No. 1 and Viscose Company No. 6), and Little River Railroad 4-6-2 No. 110.

The latter provided motive power at one end of the one-hour excursion trains that operated throughout the day while the tank engines took turns taking a spin on the SRI turntable.

You could also purchase throttle time behind some of the tank engines and look inside their cabs.

The Leviathan had just been completed and was making its “world premier” at the festival.

Another notable visitor was Southern Railway FP-7 No. 6133, which traveled from the North Carolina Transportation Museum. It did not operate during the festival but you could visit its cab.

There was a large-scale model of Norfolk & Western 4-8-4 No. 611 on static display and a few live steamers taking passengers for rides on temporary track.

There were diesels pulling the 7.5-inch gauge trains and I spotted Akron Railroad Club member Paul Emch at the throttle of one of those.

Also on display was a Great Lakes Central freight locomotive and various pieces of rolling stock from the SRI collection.

I wanted to maximize my time seeing the exhibits and steam locomotives so I didn’t chase any of the excursions.

Another factor was that I didn’t know the territory where the excursions were operating and didn’t want to try to learn it on the fly.

But ARRC members Peter Bowler and Paul Woodring did chase. Peter, in particular, was all-in on the festival, chasing multiple trips and taking part in the night photo shoot.

Another ARRC member on hand for the festival was the late Richard Jacobs.

For some reason, the line to see the cab of the 1225 was far shorter than that of the 765, so I focused on it.

That turned out to be a good thing because the 1225 later in the day developed a problem with a flue and had to be shut down. It missed its assigned turn pulling the day excursion on Saturday.

By late afternoon the clouds had begun to break and sunlight began peeking through.

That meant the SP Daylight and its train would return in sunlight and I could, at last, get decent images of it.

The challenge, though, was the sun angle. The 4449 and its train would be coming almost directly out of the sun. At best I could get good light on the side of the locomotive.

On the flip side of that equation, it meant good light for the pair of former Milwaukee Road passengers, including a Skytop lounge-observation car, in their striking traditional passenger livery.

I hung around a little while longer to get more photographs of the 4449 after it had cut off from its train and returned to the festival grounds.

The next morning I had a long drive ahead of me. The ARRC was meeting that night and I planned to get back in time to preside at the meeting.

But I spent time that morning photographing Canadian National trains in Durand and Amtrak trains in Ann Arbor before driving home to Ohio.

As far as I remember, most ARRC members who attended the festival stayed around a few more days.

Paul tells the story of how he spent most of his time chasing the excursion trains and making video, but he did visit the festival grounds on the last day.

At one point during a chase, he became annoyed at an airplane that was circling the excursion train and making a lot of noise in doing so.

If the festival were being held today, he noted, the party that chartered the plane to get overhead video would use a less noisy drone.

“I’m glad I got to go,” Paul wrote “It will probably be the only time I’ll ever get to see the SP Daylight.”

He said a prominent memory of the festival was arriving at the motel in Owosso at which he had made a reservation months earlier and upon arriving to check in being told he didn’t have a room.

Paul said he had been quoted a great rate when he made the reservation, but the motel didn’t give him a confirmation number and he had not asked the name of the man who took his reservation.

He thinks that what happened was that once the motel owners found out about the train festival they jacked up their rates.

“So, I staged a sit-in in the lobby loudly complaining to anyone who would listen what they did to me, until they gave me a room not normally given out because it really wasn’t in very good shape.

“However, I didn’t have much choice at that point because there weren’t any other rooms available all the way to Lansing.

Paul said he learned a lesson about doing everything possible to confirm room and rate when making motel reservations.

Memories, photographs and video of the Owosso train festival were the focus of the January 2010 ARRC program.

Four of us were to present with Paul showing video of his steam train chases, Peter showing still images of the steam excursions and night photo shoot, and Jake and myself showing images of the festival displays.

The program went off as scheduled, but I never got to show my images. Two weeks before the ARRC meeting I tore the retina in my left eye in three places and had to have surgery.

I was still recovering from that surgery and couldn’t attend the ARRC meeting. So Jake, Peter and Paul presented their segments in what was the first use of the tag team program format during an ARRC program.

So with this post I am finally showing, nearly 10 years later some of the images I would have shown on that cold January night had I been able to attend the ARRC meeting.

A view of the engineer’s seat inside Pere Marquette 1225. A mechanical problem later that day would mean the Berkshire would only be in steam for just one day during the festival.

A view from cab level of Pere Marquette 1225.

The former Milwaukee Road passengers cars on the rear of the long steam excursions was a most pleasing sight.

At one end of the hour-long excursions that operated throughout the day was this Great Lakes Central GP35 while . . .

. . . Little River Railroad provided the motive power for the other end of the train.

The newly completed Leviathan made its “world premier” at the Owosso train festival.

Viscose Company No. 6 takes a spin on the turntable as seen from the cab of the Leviathan.

The 2009 train festival has proved thus far to be my only encounter with Flagg Coal Company No. 75. Ahead of it is Little River Railroad No. 1

A Southern FP7 from the North Carolina Railroad Museum made the trip to Michigan to be among the displays of railroad equipment.

Norfolk & Western 611 made an appearance in Owosso — well, at least a model of it.

Two CN trains meet on the double track in front of Durand Union Station on Friday morning.

An Amtrak Wolverine Service train arrives in Ann Arbor on July 24. It was my last railfanning experience during my visit to the 2009 train festival in Owosso.

NKP 765 to Appear at Owosso Train Festival

February 22, 2014

Nickel Plate Road No. 765 will be one of the headliners at Train Expo 2014 in Owosso, Mich., in June.

The four day festival (June 20-24) also will feature Gramling Locomotive Works’ 0-4-0Ts, Flagg Coal No. 26, and Lehigh Valley Coal No. 126.

Of course the Pere Marquette 1225 will be hand as well given that the festival is being sponsored by the owner of the 2-8-8 Berkshire, the Steam Railroading Institute, which operates.

Festival organizers also noted that vintage vintage aircraft, and automobiles will be on display.

day excursion each day to Alma. It will head the 8 a.m. departure on Friday and Sunday and the 2 p.m. departure on Saturday. The 1225 also will similar half-day excursions from the expo.

According to SRI Director of Operations Kevin Mayer, each trip will last about four hours and will include photo runbys.

Little River Railroad 0-4-0T No. 1 and 4-6-2 No. 110 will pull one-hour trains rides.
During the festival, visitors will have the opportunity to operate the tank engines.

The Vintage aircraft expected to be on display include World II era include B-17 and B-25 bombers, a C-47/DC-3 transport, and a P-51 Mustang fighter.

NKP 765 was a star attraction at the 2009 railroad festival held in Owosso. The Berkshires are slated to part of night photo sessions coordinated by Lerro Productions.

For more information on Train Expo and to order tickets, go to www.michigansteamtrain.com. For more information on the Fort Wayne Railroad Historical Society and No. 765, go to fortwaynerailroad.org.