In accordance with both local and state health officials, the Steam Railroading Institute (SRI) has decided to not operate any excursions in 2020. This includes the annual Fall Color Tours and North Pole Express.
The operation of excursion trains is identified among the highest risk activities associated with the spread of COVID-19, which includes bringing large groups of people together in enclosed spaces for extended periods of time. This is the first time in 16 years that SRI’s historic North Pole Express will not be offered. Every year, thousands of guests come to Owosso to experience this nostalgic Christmas adventure, and this announcement is disappointing.
With so much uncertainty in the world today, SRI continues to be faced with many challenges. SRI is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization dedicated to educating the public about steam era railroading in Michigan and the Great Lakes region. This includes the preservation of the skills and technology for maintaining steam locomotives by operating steam era equipment and providing the experience of steam locomotives in actual operation.
The North Pole Express, Fall Color Tours and other train excursions offered year-round provides SRI with the funding to keep its mission alive. The lack of excursions this year leaves SRI with a great financial void. With no operations scheduled in the near future and no idea when the schedule will be taken up again, SRI’s revenue has temporarily stopped.
The organization needs the help of its supporters to continue to move full steam ahead. Donations to the Steam Railroading Institute are tax deductible as charitable contributions to the extent allowed by law. Please visit michigansteamtrain.com/save-our-steamer or mail donations to the Steam Railroading Institute at P.O. Box 665, Owosso, MI 48867.
The Steam Railroading Institute continues to explore all options for safe, outdoor events onsite in Owosso and hopes to provide the public with a Pere Marquette Christmas experience. At this time, SRI remains closed to the public in accordance with our local health department guidelines. SRI will reopen when it is safe for staff, volunteers and guests. For future updates, please sign up at michigansteamtrain.com/notification for notifications. The Steam Railroading Institute would like to thank the community for its continued support and for helping keep steam era railroading alive for future generations.