Adventures in Owosso and Beyond

    There's few things in life that never get old to a person over time. To me, one of the most dramatic and magical things is seeing steam in the snow. Fortunately, this year's North Pole Express trips were well covered with the white powder. Over two totally separate weekends, my best friend and I traveled the two hours from Toledo to Owosso to shoot the famous 1225 on the photogenic run from Owosso to Ashley, Michigan. 

    On the first weekend, Nick and I were getting warmed up with an unexpected visit to the first weekend of excursions. Nick knows the line like the back of his hand, and I'm getting there. We got some great shots with Barney at the throttle. On the evening trip, we shot around Ashley and were able to get really creative with the fire twirlers and old car on display. The small town festival is so much more magical in the evening, but the homemade hot chocolate from the Whistle Stop Cafe is good anytime. The aftermath of this day of shooting aside from the pictures included a dirty truck with tree scratches, a newfound appreciation for Mancino's, and an ashy scalp. After the Saturday runs were over, we were granted access to shooting the engine on the turntable at night. While I was anticipating getting pictures, I got roped into my first assignment as a volunteer: directing traffic and dumping ashes from the firebox of 1225. I was in charge of taking a large air hose and shooting ash out of the pan and into a hopper which dumped ash on the ground. Long story short, I was covered with ash that didn't want to fall on the ground. 

   While the first weekend was fun, we were just getting started. The college sems=ester had just ended, and Nick and I celebrated with some good food and some quality time with our favorite trips of the year. Luckily, we were able to spend two days up in Owosso instead of one. To our surprise, we rolled up to find 1225 having white running boards and British flags flying. Nick is a huge fan of UK steam, and I would be fine if I never saw the Flying Scottsman for my entire life, so you could say our reactions were mixed to the latter modification. Apparently, one of the volunteers is from England and he painted the running boards, so they tributed him for one trip. The lighting for the weekend was all over the place, with the weather going from cloudy to sunny in minutes. On Sunday, we also had snow showers in the mix. Throw intense snow at 5 am with a steam engine on a turntable and you automatically have a near perfect photo. It was so magical seeing 1225's steam being backlit by the yard lights and brightening up a previously dark and bland scene. Nick and I are some of the only photographers to ever shoot there, and Nick also has a phenomenal YouTube channel, so if you want to see 1225 in the early morning in a snowstorm or hear a surprise whistle on 1225, I would suggest you subscribe to his channel which is listed below. We were also accompanied by two of our other friends, who we explored nearby Durand with.

   It's 1 am on the Tuesday after and I'm still recovering from the crazy weekend. Was it worth it? Yes. Would I do it again? Yes, in a heartbeat.

Nick's channel: toledorails

Nick's Instagram: toledorails