The Steam Railroading Institute is located on the site of the old Ann Arbor Railroad’s steam shops and roundhouse in Owosso, MI.
The institute grew out of the Michigan State Trust for Railway Preservation Inc, originally set up as the Michigan State University Railroad Club centred on restoring Pere Marquette #1225 and using it to haul excursion trains to bring passengers to football games at the university. The locomotive was donated to the MSTRP in 1981 and moved from its former site on the university campus. In 1983, it was then moved to its current home. Over the ensuing years, the institute has added various other pieces of equipment to its collection.
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#1225 is one of twelve 2-8-4 Berkshire type locomotives built by the Lima Locomotive Works for the Pere Marquette in 1941. When I visited the Institute, it was standing cold in the shed.
The engine weighs 442,500 lbs, 277,600 lbs on its 69” drivers, with a 42’ engine wheelbase and 18’ 2” driver wheelbase. It has Baker valve gear and
26” x 34” cylinders. With a 90.3 sq ft grate and 466 sq ft firebox, the total heating surface is 6,709 sq ft, including 1,932 sq ft superheating. Operating at a boiler pressure of 245 psi, it delivers 69,368 lbs tractive effort.
The Pere Marquette Railway merged with the Chesapeake & Ohio in 1947 and #1225 continued in regular service until it was retired in 1951.
In 1957, the locomotive was saved from scrapping by officials at Michigan State University who were looking for an outdoor monument to commemorate the steam era. In 1969, a group of students set about restoring #1225 to operation but, as university administrators grew tired of having a torn-down locomotive on their property, the group started searching for a new home.
In 1983, #1225 was moved to its current home in the former Ann Arbor Railroad’s steam shop in Owosso. Restoration work continued until 1988 when the locomotive operated its first excursion.
This 0-4-0 saddletank locomotive was built in 1930 by the Vulcan Iron Works in Wilkes Barre, PA,
as #2 for the Flagg Coal
Company. A coal burner weighing 82,000 lbs, it has 14" x 22" cylinders and 38" drivers. Operating at a boiler pressure of 190 psi, it delivers 18,325 lbs tractive effort.
The engine was never numbered #75 during its service switching at Flagg Coal's Avoca, PA, works. In 1935, when it was sold to the Solvay Process Company in Jamesville, NY, it was then renumbered #75.
During the early 1950s, the Solway dieselised its operations and #75 along with twelve other locomotives were sold to Dr. Groman for a planned Rail City Museum in Sandy Pond, NY. It is now owned by John and Byron Gramling.
The Baldwin Locomotive Works built this Consolidation (2-8-0) type locomotive in 1920 for the Jonesboro, Lake City & Eastern Railroad as #40. It was renumbered #76 when leased to the St. Louis-San Francisco Railway in 1925.
In 1947, it was sold to the Mississippian Railway in Amory, MS, along with one other 2-8-0 , #77. Twenty years later it was sold to Sloan Cornell to operate on the Penn View Mountain Railroad at Blairsville, PA. Then, in 1976, it moved along with Sloan Cornell’s operation to the Gettysburg Railway in Gettysburg, PA.
Weighing 135,800 lbs, 119,000 lbs on its 51” drivers, #76 has a 21’ 8” engine wheelbase and 14’ driver wheelbase. The cylinders are 19” x 24”. The grate is 27.5 sq ft, the firebox 130.9 sq ft and total heating surface is 1,599 sq ft including 292 sq ft superheating. Operating at a boiler pressure of 200 psi, it delivered 28,880 lbs tractive effort.
The Mississippian Railway was established in 1923 to haul lumber products from Fulton to an interchange with the Frisco in Amory, MS. In 1944 a bentonite plant was built in Smithville to take advantage of a deposits discovered there which lead to a surge in business and gave the line its nickname the "Bentonite Road". By 1968 the Smithville bentonite deposits had been depleted and the plant was closed, although several Fulton industries continued to provide traffic for the railroad.
The Mississippian continues to operate today, hauling from 100 to 120 cars a month operating three days a week.
This locomotive was used most recently by an elevator at Shelby, OH. It was bought at auction by the SRI in 2008, and is the primary switching locomotive in SRI’s yard. It is also used for pulling #1225 onto the turntable for outdoor display when not under steam.
Built in the 1940s at General Electric's plant in Erie, PA, this type of locomotive was used in light switching at industrial centers and elevators. You can see other examples on the Nevada Southern Railway page of this website and the Nevada Northern Railway Museum page.