Posts Tagged ‘Owosso Michigan’

PM 1225 to Pull North Pole Express Excursions

November 4, 2021

Former Pere Marquette 2-8-4 No. 1225 will pull a series of North Pole Express excursions between Nov. 20 and Dec. 19 in Michigan.

Except for trips on Nov. 26, all excursions will operate on Saturdays and Sundays.

Trains will depart Owosso at 10 a.m. and 5 p.m. on all days, leaving from the Steam Railroading Institute facility.

The trips will last an hour and 15 minutes and reach the “North Pole” in Ashley. About 90 percent of the tickets were sold within an hour after going on sale.

More information is available at https://www.michigansteamtrain.com/

CN Grant to Help Restore SRI Coaches

March 24, 2021

The Steam Railroading Institute will use a donation from Canadian National to repair three passenger cars.

The Owosso-based organization said the CN grant of $2,000 will be applied toward repair the brake valves on former CN coaches Nos. 5447 and 5646, so they can be used in excursion service.

Some of the grant will be used for window refurbishment and seal replacement on former Pennsylvania Railroad coach No. 147.

 “This will allow the continuation of repairs to three of our coaches and will be a significant and important job for our volunteers to better learn the inner workings of our passenger car fleet,” said Aaron Farmer, the institute’s mechanical manager, in a statement.

Steam Saturday: Owosso 2009 Memories

March 13, 2021

Train Festival 2009 in Owosso, Michigan, was noted for the variety of live steam locomotives present.

These ranged from the recently constructed 4-4-0 Leviathan, which represented the oldest steamer from the 19th century, to Southern Pacific 4-8-4 No. 4449, which traveled the greatest distance from Portland, Oregon, to attend.

These steamers were amazing sights to see. Here are a few of my favorite photos made during the festival.

Photographs by Edward Ribinskas

SRI Cancels 2020 Excursions

September 5, 2020

The Michigan-based Steam Railroading Institute said this week it has canceled the rest of its planned 2020 excursions.

This includes the annual fall foliage specials and the holiday-themed North Pole Express.

In an announcement posted on its website, SRI, which is based in Owosso, cited the COVID-19 pandemic, saying the operation of excursion trains is identified as being among the highest risk activities associated with the spread of the virus.

The North Pole Express will be idle for the first time in 16 years.

SRI said it will explore options for safe, outdoor events in Owosso and hopes to offer a Pere Marquette Christmas experience. The group owns Pere Marquette 2-8-4 No. 1225.

The museum is currently closed for public visits in accordance local health department guidelines.

The announcement noted that with excursions stopped and the museum closed, it has lost its traditional sources of revenue.

It is seeking donations in an effort to help make up the income void.

Information on donating is available at michigansteamtrain.com/save-our-steamer or by mailing donations to Steam Railroading Institute; P.O. Box 665, Owosso, MI 48867.

Bringing Daylight to Michigan

August 12, 2020

Southern Pacific Daylight 4449 bangs the diamonds in Durand, Michigan, as it arrives during a ferry move down from Owosso where it appeared at Train Festival 2009.

Southern Pacific 4-8-4 No. 4449 was one of the three headliner steam locomotives that appeared at Train Festival 2009 held in Owosso, Michigan.

Also appearing were a pair of Berkshires, Nickel Plate Road 765 and Pere Marquette 1225.

The 1225 didn’t have far to travel given that the Steam Railroading Institute of Michigan in Owosso is its home base.

But the 4449 had to travel several thousand miles from its home in Portland, Oregon.

The striking locomotive in its bright red and orange colors turns heads wherever it appears.

This photo essay features images of the GA-4 class Daylight leaving to return to Oregon.

The consist of the train included an Amtrak P42DC, and passengers cars painted in the orange livery of The Milwaukee Road. On the rear of the the train was former Milwaukee Road Skytop Lounge Cedar Rapids.

The photographs were made on July 30 leaving Owosso and on July 31 in and west of Durand, Michigan, on former Grand Trunk Western tracks.

Photographs by Robert Farkas

Michigan Museum Delays Opening

May 29, 2020

The Steam Railroading Institute in Owosso, Michigan, has announced that it is delaying its opening for the season.

In a notice posted on its website, the museum said it was acting in compliance with a state stay-at-home order as well as to protect public health and the safety of visitors, volunteers and staff.

It is the second time this year the SRI has delayed its opening. It posted a similar postponement notice in March.

The latest notice did not give any indication as to when the museum might open for 2020.

In an unrelated development, the June meeting of the Michigan Railroad Club has been canceled due to state social distancing restrictions.

The Detroit area where the club is based has been among the hardest hit in the state.

Bringing Daylight to the Midwest

May 9, 2020

For the 2009 steam festival held in Owosso, Michigan, Southern Pacific Daylight No. 4449 traveled from its home in Portland, Oregon.

The streamlined 4-8-4 pulled excursions during its time in Michigan.

No. 4449 was not too far from Lima, Ohio, where it was built in May 1941.

It is shown above pulling an excursion in Owosso on July 30, 2009.

Photograph by Robert Farkas

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.

Summer of Steam Set at SRI in Owosso

June 8, 2018

The Steam Railroading Institute has set its summer slate of programming that will include a visit by Lehigh Valley Coal Company No. 126.

The 0-6-0ST will offer train rides and hand on the throttle experiences in Owosso, Michigan.

Hands on the Throttle will be offered on June 8, 10, 15, 22 and 23; on July 6; and on Sept. 7 and 9.

Trains rides behind the Vulcan-built locomotive will be offered on all of those dates as well as June 9, July 7 and Sept. 8.

Tickets for the train rides are $8 for coach and $12 for the caboose. The hands on the throttle tickets are $160 for a half-hour of running time. Ticket prices do not include a processing fee.

Tickets are available for purchase at the Visitors Center front desk or by calling 989-399-7589.

C&NW 175 Arriving at SRI in Pieces

June 8, 2018

It may be arriving in pieces, but former Chicago & North Western 4-6-0 No. 175 is making its way to its new home at the Steam Railroading Institute in Owosso, Michigan.

The boiler of the R-1 class engine was delivered separately from the running gear on the journey by truck from the Mineral Range Railroad in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula.

Altogether, the 175 was disassembled into four components of parts. The boiler had to be modified so that it would stay beneath the 45-ton load limit of the Mackinac Bridge.

The only other alternative to using the bridge would have been to use the carferry SS Badger between Manitowoc, Wisconsin and Ludington, Michigan, or to truck the locomotive around Lake Michigan through Illinois and Indiana.

Permits would have been required for each state through which the boiler passed.

No. 175 was the last steam locomotive operated by the C&NW, pulling an excursion in 1957.

Built by the Schenectady Works in 1908, it spent much of its life working on C&NW lines in the Upper Peninsula. It is one of three R-1s still in existence.

SRI, which also owns Pere Marquette 2-8-4 No. 1225, plans to restore the 175 to operating condition at an estimated cost of $750,000.

Once operating, the 175 will be able to travel to places on the Great Lakes Central that are off limits to the larger No. 1225, including north of Cadillac, Michigan.