by Karen Mead-Elford, staff writer

(Independent Photo/Karen Mead-Elford)

The Pere Marquette 1225 crossed W. King St. in Owosso just after leaving the Steam Railroading Institute early Saturday, Nov. 5 for a planned birthday trip to Clare in honor of the engine’s 75th anniversary. The excursion included approximately 380 passengers and volunteers who had boarded in downtown Owosso prior to 9 a.m. for an all day, fun-filled celebration. A concession car was located in the middle of the train, and 75th anniversary memorabilia was available to the passengers.

The city of Clare is located north of Mt. Pleasant in Isabella County. Clare was founded with the coming of the Pere Marquette railroad in 1870. Coincidentally, Pere Marquette 1225 is a steam locomotive built for the Pere Marquette Railway by Lima Locomotive Works in Ohio.

After the 1225 was retired, the locomotive was donated to MSU in 1957 where it was displayed until 1969. At that time, a group of students formed the MSU Railroad Club with the goal of restoring the engine to full power. Eventually this group evolved into the Michigan State Trust for Railway Preservation. Ultimately, the 1225 was moved to Owosso in 1983, where after years of carefully considered restorative efforts, the locomotive is still used for a number of annual trips.

People in Clare welcomed guests wearing 1940s period clothing. A tour of the historic Clare Train Depot that is still being restored was also offered. Other activities included musical entertainment, a book signing by Kevin Keefe who is the author of the recently published book “The Twelve Twenty-Five,” drawings, give-aways, and a giant birthday cake from Clare’s popular Cops & Doughnuts bakery.

Engineman Charlie Kricher handled the 1225 for part of the trip to Clare. “We have to operate the locomotive exactly the way it was done back then. It takes the full attention and cooperation of two people to make it work, and it’s just as much work as it ever was to keep it in running order.”

Institute Director Kim Springsdorf explained the meaning of the locomotive, “The locomotive is a living link to a past era that can be hard for modern people to visualize. Our world is not the same as the world of 1941. Our cities and towns and homes and businesses all look different. We live our lives differently, and certainly we travel differently. But people can look at the 1225 and see exactly what train travel was like.”

For more information on upcoming events at the Steam Railroading Institute in Owosso, or the Pere Marquette 1225, visit www.michigansteamtrain.com.

The Historic Pere Marquette 1225 Turns 75 was last modified: November 9th, 2016 by Karen Elford