Steam Fest 2009 - Owosso, MI

Steam Fest 2009 was held on July 23-26, in Owosso, MI. Steam Engine SP 4449, coming across country from Portland, OR, pulled the excursion train on the 23rd and 24th. On the 25th and 26th the train was pulled by the Pere Marquette 1225. Nickel plate locomotive 765, and 5 other locomotives, were also at the event, all steamed up and ready to go.

We stayed at the Rosewood Inn Bed and Breakfast, and highly recommend it. It is literally an 1870s house built in and around 2006. The core is an 1870s house which has been expanded in the same style by a designer-builder husband and wife team. The features described below barely do it justice. The building and grounds are immaculately kept.

Rosewood Inn

The trip included some rain, mostly centered around the stay at the Rosewood Inn, but that simply added to the quality of the night's rest on the king-size bed.

Left click on any of the items below for photographs. The photos are in the order of the trip, starting with the B&B, proceeding to the train trip, and then a look at the train yard. Because the train trip was about 7 hours, including a 2 hour layover in Alma, MI, we did get more than a quick look at the train yard. Things were closing up by the time we returned. But all of the 8 engines were still stream up, and available for people to look at.


Photograph 50, below, gives a hint of what the rain was like in the morning. You couldn't see a thing. Even so, at every intersection of the track with a road, even a small, muddy, dirt road, there were dozens of cars and a police car to manage the crowds. This was all part of the expense of running the train. People would wait for the train to go by, get in to their vehicles, and race off to the next crossing, all in an attempt to get a photo of the engine coming by.

Photographs 68 to 71, and 76 and 83 show the observation-coach car. Apparently Frank Sinatra, and his "rat pack," used this car, starting in the 1940s. Everything in the car is still origianl, and the car is one of a kind.

Photographs 72 to 86 show a series of 3 runbys. The train backed up a significant distance, stopped, and then started up, given hundred of people a chance to photograph the engine in action, and feel the ground literally shake as the pounding locomotive went by. Overhead trees were blasted by the stack exhaust, and the engineer poured on the oil, producting some heavy black smoke. Most western engines were oil burners, because the coal was poor.

The steam train was so popular that an extra day was added, the day we took the trip, to accommodate the demand. But for that, we wouldn't have gotten a seat. There was talk of a fifth day, but that was apparently too much for the organizers, and perhaps the owners of the track. It was said that many would have taken the train trip even without the steam engine, but that seems unlikely. The engine drew crowds everywhere it went, as well as keeping cameras going. When it stopped in Alma, MI, the crowd around it was huge, and the engineer and fireman were in the limelight. The engine was hissing and emitting steam here and there, and the smoke was coming out of the stack. On the return trip, people were everywhere they could get access to the track, either taking pictures, or just waving. This was no ordinary train.

Steam trip

Photograph 29 shows the Pere Marquette "Polar Express" engine. It would pull the steam fest train two of the four days.

Event grounds