On the evening of Saturday Nov. 17, a very unusual situation occurred during the Steam Railroading Institute’s (SRI) third run of our annual North Pole Express. Approximately an hour prior to retuning to Owosso from Ashley’s Christmas Village, our crews were notified of a freight derailment that took place just before our destination. We had no way to get the engine and all aboard back to Owosso. This included 900 passengers, our work crews and approximately 60 additional volunteers needed to be provided a way back.
In all of our years of transporting passengers on train excursions, we have never experienced this situation. Within minutes, safety briefings were conducted and emergency officials were contacted. By the time the passengers loaded the train and before we even departed Ashley, I was contacted by Owosso Public Safety Chief Kevin Lenkart. He assured me that everything was in place and all of our passengers would be transported back to the Steam Railroading Institute by bus. And buses there were! Everyone on the train was absolutely amazed by the flashing lights; bus after bus after bus! Fire engines, ambulances and streets full of police officers and volunteer fireman. They helped get every individual transported from the train to a bus in an amazingly efficient manner. It was an amazing sight to see.
On behalf of everyone at Steam Railroading Institute, we would like to send our heartfelt thanks to everyone that was involved in this emergency situation. We are so proud to be a part of this amazing community. We will forever be grateful for the collaboration and amazing support you showed us in our time of need. This is an outstanding community, and I am sure all of our passengers will continue to have a fondness for this place we call home. We are grateful to all the passengers for being so kind and patient and helping us to turn this situation into an extended adventure.
We would like to personally thank all of the organizations that came right to our rescue. They include: Owosso Police and Fire, Owosso Township Fire Department, Shiawassee County Emergency Management, Owosso Public Schools, Indian Trails, Shiawassee Regional Chamber of Commerce, Owosso Department of Public Works, Shiawassee County Sheriff’s Office, Ashley Schools, village of Ashley and our partnering neighbors Great Lakes Central. A special thank you to all of the amazing bus drivers who took such great care of our passengers!
This thank you would not be complete without acknowledging our amazing maintenance crew, our dedicated volunteers and the staff of SRI. This was an amazing group effort, and I am very proud to work with each and every one of you! Congratulations to everyone for a job very well done.
With Heartfelt Thanks,
Kimberly Springsdorf, Executive Director, Steam Railroading Institute