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Real trains - scale 1:1
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USA : Michigan :
Owosso - Steam Railroading Institute
Michigan has its own table of contents :
Owosso is home of the Steam Railroading Institute ( SRI ).
The Steam Railroading Institute is known for being host to a steam train festival / expo during the summer :
- Train Festival 2009 - July 23-26.
- Train Expo 2014 - June 20 - 22.
The Steam Railroading Institute is also the home of the Pere Marquette # 1225, a Berkshire type 2-8-4 steam locomotive. Their website www.project1225.org is VERY out-dated, but contains some basic information about the locomotive.
The # 1225 is ( in 2014 ) fully operative and runs excursions in Michigan, mostly from Owosso to Alma / Cadillac.
The The Steam Railroading Institute website www.michigansteamtrain.com is not very informative about what you can do and/or see at the museum. Something as basic as a map is nowhere to be found on the website.
There is a 7,5 inch gauge toy train that you can ride on around the grounds.
You can see and admire the displayed locomotives and coaches.
The Steam Railroading Institute is more about running the locomotives and the trains than displaying them. The SRI have an youth program where children / teenagers come and learn what it takes to run and repair these locomotives and coaches.
And of course there is a gift shop.
For some reason The Steam Railroading Institute is very well represented on Facebook where they update their page on a regular basis.
The Steam Railroading Institute sometimes "partner up" with the Fort Wayne Railroad Historical Society in Fort Wayne, Indiana, where the NPR # 765 is based.
Train Expo 2014 - June 20 - 22.
During the Train Expo 2014 in Owosso 2 legendary steam locomotives were making excursions from Owosso to Alma and back.
The #765 and the # 1225 could be seen hauling long passenger trains along the country-side.
Many photografers were lined up along the good foto-spots. In Ithaca there were at least 2 good spots :
In the Woodland Park.
At the South Pine River Street crossing.
The # 1225 and the # 765 would each do a trip from Owosso to Alma and back; Friday, Saturday and Sunday. So each day at any given foto-spot along the railroad you would see both locomotives twice.
And since there is a turntable in Owosso and a WYE in Alma the locomotives would always be at the front of the train - so no backwards tender first driving.
The vintage aspect
Another thing that you will notice when looking at especially fotos from the Steam Expo is that it is not only the trains that are old; there will be plenty of old cars, farm equipment and people dressed like in the 1950ties or earlier :
Many photografers in the USA seem to prefer "vintage" and "authentic" backgrounds when shooting / filming especially steam trains.
So old silos, grain elevators and old industrial sites are popular places; i.e. the silos in Ithaca, the grain elevator in Carland and the silo / grain elevator in North Star to name but a few.
The Woodland Park is also one of the places between Owosso and Alma where the train will do a photo-run-by. First the train stops and all photografers get off the train. Then the train backs up and does a honorary run-by - then backs up and picks up the photografers again.
If you are not on the train you have time to see the run-by and then drive back to the South Pine River Street crossing.
What I missed
There is only one thing that I missed; a freight train pulled by a steam locomotive. Especially the # 1225 was originally used for freight trains, so it would be very realistic to have the #1225 pull some freight cars.
Another thing that is an ( sore ) "eye-catcher" is the very great variety regarding the passenger coaches that the #765 and the # 1225 were pulling. Since the majority of the coaches were the aluminum type, 7 in all, it wouldn't hurt to put these 7 together as a single train.
Meeting other rail-fanners
One of the nice things about rail-fanning is that you meet other rail-fanners. Naturally for an event like the Train Expo rail-fanners had come from as far as Maryland to see the 1225 and the 765. None of the rail-fanners I spoke to were disappointed.
The rail-photografers in the USA also seemed to care less, than their European friends, about getting other photograhers in the picture. Everybody had the right to stand where he wanted to. If that meant that another photograher would have to zoom in more or even change position - so be it.
In the USA it's all about the law and the rules. If it is not forbidden - it is legal. Period.
Of course this doesn't prevent you from being courteous and not standing in the way of others, but that is enterely up to yourself - other people can't force you - only perhaps appeal to you.
While European photografers won't hesitate yelling out and pointing out that another person is in the way of a good foto, the US photografers are very timid.
Many photografers also tried to follow / chase the trains, getting to a new foto-spot just seconds before the train arrived. However cars from several police departments and various sheriffs offices were also out on the roads, making sure that rail-fanners were not speeding.
In the evenings there was a special night-foto event in Owosso. Search the internet for some beautiful fotos.
Night foto events arranged by Lerro Productions based in Glenolden, Pennsylvania.
Pete Lerro is also a very good painter :
This painting, "Power & Pride - from Enola Yard in Harrisburg, PA", now hanging in my kitchen, was given to me by a good rail-fan friend. I met Pete, briefly, during a railroad expo in Strasburg, PA. Like all artists he is very modest and pleasant to talk to.
In Europe ha can be compared to Peter Bomhard, who is much used by i.e. Märklin.