The Steam Railroading Institute in Owosso, Michigan, hosted TrainFestival 2009 during July 23-26, 2009. From all parts of the country came more than 36,000 people to experience the sights, smells, sounds and ground-trembling sensations of live steam locomotives stoked and fired. More than 13,000 boarded the trains for rides during the 4-day festival.
Daily short excursions around Owosso treated many people to their first train ride and reunited others to a bygone familiarity. Thousands more experienced steam powered passenger train travel behind mainline steam locomotives over the former Ann Arbor Railroad line to Alma, Michigan.
The stars of the show were:
Southern Pacific "Daylight" No. 4449. This 4-8-4 "Northern" type was on her first trip off of home rails in more than 20 years, the "Daylight" came 2,500 miles from Portland, Oregon, as an Amtrak-sponsored trip. No. 4449 ran an all-day excursion on Thursday, July 23. The "Daylight" is often referred to as the "most famous steam locomotive in the world," and pulled the American Freedom Train in 1975-76.
Pere Marquette 2-8-4 "Berkshire" No.1225 is one of the largest operating steam locomotives in the world. Based at the Steam Railroading Institute, it is also the engine digitally reproduced for the movie Polar Express. The engine is used to power Polar Express excursions today.
Nickel Plate Road 2-8-4 No. 765 (a sister to Pere Marquette No. 1225) is owned and operated by the Fort Wayne Historical Society.
Little River 4-6-2 "Pacific" No.110, the smallest operating standard-gauge locomotive of its wheel arrangement in the United States. The small Pacific spends most of its time hauling tourists between Quincy and Coldwater, MI.
Little River 0-4-0T No.1, stable mate of No.110, is owned and operated by the Little River Railroad of Coldwater, MI.
Flagg Coal 0-4-0T No. 75, privately owned by father and son John and Barney Gramling.
Viscose 0-4-0T No.6, a privately owned steam locomotive from Dunkirk, NY. The No. 6 has been painstakingly restored by its owner with no public funds.
Leviathan 4-4-0 No. 63 is America's newest operating steam locomotive! The Leviathan was built from scratch over the past nine years and is based on a 1860's design. This locomotive which currently resides in West Chicago and made its public debut at TrainFestival 2009. The locomotive is complete with gold leaf trim, gloss paint, wood cab and funnel smoke stack.
Other motive power displayed were vintage and modern diesel-electric locomotives: EMD FP7 Southern Railway 6133 preserved by the North Carolina Transportation Museum, a modern Amtrak unit, and a Great Lakes Central Railroad Geep. Several vintage pieces of rolling stock were also displayed, such as a Wabash boxcar, Katy (Missouri-Kansas-Texas Railroad) business car, and cabooses.
Scale delights included large 1/8th scale live steam rides, Michigan Small Scale Live Steamers, huge model layouts in many scales, and a giant display of the Michigan LEGO Train Club. The Institute is constructing some 4,000 feet of 1/8 scale track.
The metallic click-clack of steel wheels over rail joints, the smoky breath of coal burning steamers, the sighs and hissing of the steel beasts, steam whistles, and the snaking steam vapors transported attendees back to the steam era. It was a fantastic experience!
The Steam Railroading Institute has an award winning collection of railroad equipment and railroad artifacts. Plans are in the works for TrainFestival 2010.
Copyright ©2017 by Fred Boucher. Images and/or videos also by copyright holder unless otherwise noted. The views and opinions expressed herein are solely the views and opinions of the authors and/or contributors to this Web site and do not necessarily represent the views and/or opinions of ModelGeek, KitMaker Network, or Silver Star Enterrpises. Images also by copyright holder unless otherwise noted. Opinions expressed are those of the author(s) and not necessarily those of ModelGeek. All rights reserved. Originally published on: 2009-12-06 00:00:00. Unique Reads: 9178