The Steam Railroading Institute is dedicated to educate 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 Institute is home to the majestic Pere Marquette 1225. The 1225 embodies the characteristics of the last and most powerful steam locomotives and is one of the last steam engines of this size still in operation. The SRI is the image of a 501(c)3 non-profit organization, the Michigan State Trust for Railway Preservation Inc. For many years, the MSTRP centered on a single steam locomotive, the 1225.
After Pere Marquette 1225’s retirement, the locomotive was donated to the Michigan State University in 1957 by the Chesapeake and Ohio Railway with the help of Forest Akers; Dodge Motor’s Vice President and MSU Trustee, who saw it as a real piece of machinery for Engineering students to study. Displayed as an icon of the steam-era, it sat at MSU until 1969, when a group of students took an interest in the locomotive.
The Michigan State University Railroad Club was formed at that time with the ambitious goal of restoring 1225 and using it to power excursion trains that would bring passengers to football games at the university. After toiling away at the locomotive for many years, the Michigan State University Railroad Club evolved as the Michigan State Trust for Railway Preservation and started its corporate run in July of 1979. Recognizing the daunting task that was ahead of them, the early MSU students saw the necessity to form a 501(c)3 non-profit corporation and in 1981, Michigan State University donated 1225 to the newly formed MSTRP. In 1982, the locomotive was moved to the former Ann Arbor Railroad Backshop in Owosso where the restoration continued until 1985 when it moved under its own power for the first time in 34 years. Since 1988, Pere Marquette 1225 has been maintained in operable condition and serves as the largest piece of operating steam equipment in the MSTRP/ SRI collection.
Situated on the site of the former Ann Arbor Railroad’s steam shops and roundhouse in Owosso, the Michigan State Trust for Railway Preservation and Steam Railroading Institute have grown tremendously in the past forty plus years. Now housing two steam locomotives, two diesel locomotives, a fleet of passenger cars, plus numerous pieces of rolling stock and historic structures. The SRI offers excursions throughout the year and the most popular of all excursions is the “North Pole Express” available during November and December.