National Public Radio report on TrainFestival

Photo by Dennis Livesy.

NPR report here.

Steam train enthusiasts from around the world are converging on Owosso, Mich., this week for a once-in-a-generation gathering. The Steam Railroading Institute is hosting a train festival it says is unlike anything since the World’s Fair in 1984.

Also, a local TV report here.

By all accounts TrainFestival attendance is exceeding expectations – great news in the current economy.

SP 4449 in Chicago

UPDATE:It hasn’t gotten much attention, but yesterday’s trip from Michigan City to Durand accomplished two significant ‘firsts:’

  • The first steam-powered passenger train over Norfolk Southern since N&W 611’s last trip in December, 1994;
  • The first steam-powered passenger train over Canadian National since, well, it’s been a very long time (GTW 5629?).

Let’s also note that SP 4449 made its 2,500-mile journey without a single defect or delay. Congratulations to everyone involved, and here’s to a very successful TrainFestival 2009!

ORIGINAL POST: 34 years after beginning its “American Freedom Train” career here in 1975, SP 4449 is back in Chicago after a 2200-mile trip from Portland, Oregon.

(Photo by Robby Gragg)

(Photo by Matthew Dowd)

No. 4449 made it to Michigan City last night, and is ready for the final lap to Durand, MI, and Owosso.

Don’t forget, UP 844 is also on the road today, from Denver to Cheyenne. You can follow and discuss both here on SteamCentral’s FriendFeed.

Two 4-8-4s to follow on GPS and Twitter today

UPDATE: Gee, I wonder who got off the train at Western Springs, IL. (Rank has its privileges, I guess . . .)


Original Post:

First, it was UP 844.

Then it was SP 4449.

Today, it’s both. No. 844 powers the Cheyenne Frontier Days train, and no. 4449 operates from Minneapolis to the Chicago area.


In a last-minute change, no. 4449 will maneuver around a clearance restriction by using the Indiana Harbor Belt from near LaGrange, IL, to the East Chicago area, then on to Michigan City, IN, where it will be added to the special train on Sunday morning. It’s going to be a long night for the 4449 crew; over 400 miles of running, servicing, then the detour. Let’s hope they get some sleep.

Track SP 4449 on GPS and Twitter

SP 4449 is fired up, and later today will move from Brooklyn Roundhouse to Portland Union Station in anticipation of tomorrow’s departure for Spokane. (See the Schedules Page for more information.) The train has been fitted with a GPS tracking device – you can follow the cross-country trip at the TrainFestival web site.


In addition, expect updates on Twitter. Suggested hashtags are #4449 and #tf09.


SP 4449 Rides Again

It’s turning into a Lima reunion.

Ex-Southern Pacific 4-8-8 no. 4449 will depart Portland, OR, July 3 on a 2500-mile cross-country trek to Train Festival in July, where it will join ex-NKP 765 and ex-PM 1225 in Owosso, MI.

In cooperation with Amtrak, BNSF Railway, and Friends of the 261, no. 4449 will operate via the “Empire Builder” route, hauling a train of private cars to Minneapolis, MN. Then it’s on to Chicago and Durand, MI, where the Daylight will enter the Great Lakes Central tracks to Owosso.

Once at Train Festival, no. 4449 will power an excursion to Alma, Michigan, on Friday, July 24, and be on display Saturday and Sunday.

After Train Festival, no. 4449 will return to Minneapolis, where it will lay over until until fall, when the Friends of the 261 will feature it on their usual public excursions. No. 4449 will then return to Portand to fulfill its duty on “Holiday Express” trips.

It’s been 35 years since a young Doyle McCormack took on the task of rehabilitating a display locomotive for service on the American Freedom Train. No. 4449’s current boiler certification will expire in June, 2013, so this may be the Daylight’s last cross-country trip for a very long time indeed. So don’t miss this one.