Sunday, July 26, 2009

Travel: Three Days, Three Rides

A one-eighth scale model of a Pennsylvania Railroad diesel approached the loading location at the Train Festival in Owosso, Michigan on 24-July-2009

FLINT, MICHIGAN - Just about every possible aspect of railroading made an impression during the now-completed Train Festival in Owosso, Michigan this weekend. From purchasing railroad memorabilia to observing model railroads to operating a steam locomotives to taking night photos of trains, it was all possible, assuming one bought a ticket early enough since many events sold out. Train riding was obviously one of the options available. In my three days at the Train Festival, I decided to ride a train a day, and as it worked out, the trains became larger each day.

In a view taken from a trailing passenger car, the miniature Pennsylvania diesel paused near a whistle sign featuring a Keystone logo during the Train Festival in Owosso, Michigan on 24-July-2009

I spent a good portion of Friday checking out the Train Festival grounds, and one of the prominent features was a one-eighth scale miniature railroad. Both steam and diesel locomotives were operating on the route, and I ended up taking about a five minute ride behind a Pennsylvania Railroad diesel across the grounds.

Little River "Pacific"-type steam locomotive #110 powered the hourly runs during the Steam Festival; the peppy engine approached Main Street in Owosso, Michigan on 25-July-2009

On Saturday, I stepped up to full size trains. Throughout the festival, an excursion train ran hourly about four miles out and back, hauled one direction by a Great Lakes Central diesel and the back to the grounds by Little River Railroad 4-6-2 ("Pacific") #110. The eight-car train provided interesting riding options including cars from the original Chicago bi-level gallery commuter coaches from the Chicago, Burlington and Quincy. The brief ride was just a warm up for the next day.

Nickel Plate Road "Berkshire" #765 accelerated during a photo run-by at Ithaca, Michigan on 26-July-2009

On the last day of the festival, I rode the all-day excursion behind a "super power" steam locomotive, Nickel Plate Road #765. The 2-8-4 "Berkshire" easily handled the sixteen car train on a nearly 40-mile trip to Alma, Michigan and back. Included in this trip was a stop for multiple photo run-bys, allowing those riding the train to get pictures instead of just non-paying chasers (which I had been the previous two days). It was a fitting highlight to a complete railroading experience.

For more coverage of Train Festival 2009, visit the steam forum at including a thread I started.

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