It’s hard to leave fall behind…
Every year, the Steam Train Railroading Institute in Owosso operates an annual North Pole Express that takes you to the North Pole and back. Over on Absolute Michigan, The Polar Express Comes to Michigan from Michigan History Magazine explains that author Chris Van Allsburg his well-known children’s book, The Polar Express, on train experiences he had as a boy in Grand Rapids:
The book’s popularity led to a movie released in November 2004. Michigan railroad buffs recognize the sound of the movie’s train whistle, which comes from one of the nation’s few working steam locomotives.
Built in 1941, the Pere Marquette 1225 is an enormous steam locomotive, measuring one hundred feet long and sixteen feet high. Replaced in 1951 by a more efficient diesel engine, the 1225 was saved from the scrap heap and decades later, ended up in Owosso as the star of the Steam Railroading Institute (SRI). Shortly thereafter, the 1225 was restored to its former glory.
As researchers prepared the movie version of Van Allsburg popular book, they were drawn to Owosso and the 1225. Technicians recorded the sound of the whistle, the clatter of the wheels and the rumble of the four-hundred-ton locomotive rolling down the tracks. The sounds were merged with the animated Polar Express.
March roared into Michigan a (leap) day early, dumping up to 16 inches of snow in parts of the UP. The Lansing State Journal reports that while the UP was buried, southern Michigan was boiling:
The National Weather Service says 10 to 16 inches fell in the Iron Mountain area, while the Ironwood area got up to 14 inches and the Menominee area up to 13 inches.
Icy road conditions were reported in parts of the southern Lower Peninsula early Wednesday, but warm winds pushed highs to spring-like levels. The weather service says Three Rivers hit 64 degrees, Kalamazoo 63, and Coldwater and South Haven 62.
The rules of folk wisdom dictate that with such a ferocious beginning, the month will end lamb gentle … but is that only for folks in the UP?
About this photo from last year Russell writes Marquette Rail ran a plow extra after the 2011 blizzard that dropped over 2 feet of snow and 50+ MPH winds. Here it is seen busting through the crossing in downtown Grant. Check it out bigger and in his Trains 2011 slideshow.
There’s a yard-full of trains on Michigan in Pictures!
This weekend (May 13-15) is Durand Railroad Days. This annual event is in its 36th year and was established in 1975 to pay tribute
to the rail industry that helped develop the nation and was responsible
for the settlement of Durand late in the 1870s. The Michigan Railroad History Museum at Durand Union Station says:
The village of Durand was built up around the railroads in the late 1870’s. Durand Union Station was designed by Spier and Rohms and originally built in 1903. Eighteen months thereafter it was almost completely destroyed by fire and was rebuilt in 1905.
This was a very busy station as the Grand Trunk Western and Ann Arbor Railroads crossed at grade there. During the early 1900’s when the railroad industry was at its peak, 42 passenger trains, 22 mail trains, and 78 freight trains passed through Durand daily. Durand Union Station handled approximately 3,000 passengers per day, making it a prospering hub of the industry.
Read about the event & museum using the links above and definitely put the museum on your list of places to visit!
Check Tim’s photo out bigger. He writes that he was inspired by an old black & white photo from nearly the same spot.
You can see a similar photo right here and learn a lot more about Michigan’s railroading heritage from the Michigan Internet Railroad History Museum. There’s also a cool wallpaper sized photo of the station in the Absolute Michigan pool and (of course) you can learn a lot more about Michigan Trains & Railroads on Michigan in Pictures!
The Charlevoix Railroad Station to the Charlevoix Historical Society in June 1992 on the 100th anniversary of the first train arriving in Charlevoix.
When I was a kid, a friend of mine’s dad shot dealership posters for car companies. I couldn’t find the one we were in (fog machines and white clothes made it look like England as I recall) but I did find a 1957 Dodge Royal Lancer at the station.
I was wandering around the local backroads a few days ago when I spotted this sprawling barn and these tall grasses; seemed like a possible photograph….
Further research about the location turned up an unexpected gem. Seems that Shaytown was named for Ephraim Shay, inventor of the classic narrow-gauge lumbering locomotive, who became famous after bestowing his name on this corner. Recovering railfan that I am, I knew who he was, but hadn’t recognized the local connection.
Near as I can tell, Shay owned this property for four years or so shortly after the Civil War, where he ran a sawmill and (probably) a general store. Those are gone, and to all appearances the existing barn and house were built by later owners.
Nonetheless, a delightful surprise. Unfortunately, and despite the truck parked in the yard, both the house and barn seem to be abandoned.