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Train Festival 2009 - Owosso to Alma Excursions ~ July 25th and 26, 2009

by Elizabeth Guenzler

Today was the first of two all-day trips from Owosso to Alma, Michigan. The plan had been for Pere Marquette 1225 was going to pull the Saturday excursion with Nickel Plate 765 doing the honours for the Sunday trip. However, 1225 developed flue problems the day before so Nickel Plate 765 led both excursions.

The day started with showers but armed with a hastily-purchased umbrella, I was ready for this new mileage and new steam engine. Bob and I met Chris and we boarded CN 5226 for our journey.

My ticket for the Saturday trip.

Some of the chasers along the route. The train went through Elsie, Ithaca and on to Alma. Upon arrival, thunder, lightning and pouring rain greeted us. But it thankfully stopped. Bob and I took the 1910-replica shuttle to the city centre and had lunch at the Main Street Cafe and while there, meet a father and son from Iowa wearing the Legends of Steam (UP 844 / SP 4449 double-header in Washington in May 2007) T-shirts. As I had been on that excursion, we struck up a conversation.

The weather had vastly improved and was much more conducive to taking photographs. Nickel Plate 2-8-4 765 at Alma, the layover point.

Close-up of the front of Nickel Plate 765.

Nickel Plate 765 at Alma.

Myself in front of the 22nd steam engine I had ridden behind as of the date of this trip {as of the time of writing this travelogue, January 2021, that number is 52}.

Fireman's side view.

Crew in the cab of the steam engine.

Letting off steam during the layover.

The wheels of 765.

The proper initials of the railroad - NYC & St.L - New York, Chicago and St. Louis.

Some of the Train Festival excursion consist and waiting passengers. We reboarded the train for the return trip, departing Alma at 14:30 but stopped at Ithaca for a set of three runbys.

Nickel Plate 2-8-4 765 performing the first runby at Ithaca with Rich Melvin at the throttle.

Former Canadian National coaches on the Train Festival excursion as seen during the runby.

Reversing for the next runby.

Some of the coaches during the reverse move.

The second runby.

The photo line for the runbys at MP 139, Ithaca.

Myself and Chris enjoying the day.

The second runby, with Steve Sandberg at the helm.

The reverse move for the final runby.

The last runby at Ithaca. We all reboarded for the return trip to Owosso then had a good dinner at Lefty's Steakhouse. After driving Chris back to his hotel in Flint, Bob and I returned to Owosso and took another helicopter ride where we chased two deer! It was then back to the hotel for the night.

July 26th

A good breakfast at Bob Evans started the day and we returned to the Train Festival grounds for the last time. After meeting up with Chris, we boarded the train at 09:15.

My ticket for the Sunday excursion.

Nickel Plate 765 arriving at the platform for the day's trip to Alma.

Chasers were out in force again today.

Fields of soy/sorghum in the Owosso area countryside.

The Hiawatha logo inside North Star Rail coach 202 "Wenoneh". The weather was much better today so when we detrained at Alma, we took our photographs first before going for lunch.

Another view of Nickel Plate 765 at Alma.

The steam engine was popular with everyone. Once the train had been wyed and serviced, it was time to return to Owosso, but with a stop at Ithaca for two runbys.

The first photo runby.

The last runby when it started to rain. Everyone relaxed during the return trip and upon arrival at Owosso, we said goodbye to Chris and returned to the grounds for the end of the festival. Our destination was the turntable area.

The parade of tank engines.

Little River 0-4-0T 1 was the first engine to turn on the turntable.

That was joined by its sister, Little River 4-6-2 110.

The two steam engines on the turntable.

Little River 110 reverses off the turntable after a full circle.

It was Viscose 6's turn next, which joined Little River 1.

Leviathan 63 followed and looked very sharp as it made the turn.

The headlight of Leviathan which is powered by a kerosene lamp.

Pere Marquette 2-8-4 1225 and Southern Pacific 4-8-4 4449 at the end of Train Festival.

Close-up of the sidelined 1225.

At the very end of everything, each steam engine whistled, first separately, then all together. It was a very memorable, and moving, experience.

Nickel Plate 765 participating in the final salute. With that, Train Festival 2009 was over. After dinner, we returned to the hotel, packed and were ready to start home, although there was one remaining stop the next day. You can read about that in the next travelogue.

This weekend had been outstanding and to put on an event of this magnitude with so many participating groups was nothing short of incredible. Thank you to Jason Johnson, the Steam Railroading Institute, the Friends of 261, the Friends of the 4449 and all the other participants and sponsors for an excellent festival.