A Saturday in Coopersville

I’m perfectly happy to admit that when it comes to aircraft and trains, I am just an over-sized 10-year-old. In fact, I’m kind of glad that way in the back of my head, that 10-year-old still lives on; I’d really miss him if he decided to grow up.

Coopersville, Michigan is home to the Coopersville and Marne Railway, a tourist railroad taking passengers on the 14 mile route to the village of Marne in vintage cars, some of which are over 100 years old. Thinking there would be trains to see and take pictures of, we stopped for a little exploring.

The first thing we came upon was a couple of locomotives sitting on a siding. As one often sees in such places, these are awaiting the funds for restoration. The first was a 1919 built 4-6-0 Ten Wheeler originally owned by the Canadian National, which in spite of its appearance is said to be a great candidate for restoration to operational use…

The old 1395 has a sister engine that is currently operating, as you can see in the video below…

Alongside the 1395 is an old Alco diesel from the Tuscola and Saginaw Bay awaiting restoration:

Of course there are other cars, including this one I thought was interesting…

… a 250 ton hoist car that one served the C&O. I’m told that the railroad has many other specimens that are not kept on static view. There was a train parked nearby that would soon take passengers on the afternoon run, headed up by an EMB SW9 switcher…

It isn’t the most artistic looking locomotive ever built, and it really wasn’t designed to head up passenger trains, being an early switch engine, but it is quite capable of getting the job done. Most people don’t realize that diesel locomotives are actually hybrids. This one for instance uses its 1,200 horsepower engine to run a generator that supplies power to the electric engines in the trucks, and was built in 1952.

As I was taking these pictures, a voice came from behind me: “Hey, want a closer look?” I turned to see the smiling engineer, who said, “Hop on up to the cab with me.”

My inner 10-year-old let out a whoop (that only I could hear) and I followed him up the ladder and waited impatiently for him to unlock the door. Bob the Engineer happily told me what he was doing as he put his key into the ignition and turned the engine over. A shudder went through the cab and the old diesel roared to life. Then he set about turning the air pumps on to build up brake pressure.



As Bob went through his checklist, I snapped a picture of the brakeman’s view forward; notice that he can’t really see the track ahead.

Then Bob stood up and said, “Here, take a shot from my seat!”

Well, I’m sure you can imagine the excitement of my inner 10-year-old at sitting in the engineer’s seat feeling the rumble of the engines… We were joined by Mrs. Merritt, and she and Bob began a little chat about their time in the US Navy… What brought that up when we were supposed to be talking about train stuff? It’s because she was wearing this shirt:

If you can’t make it all out it says, “Never Underestimate a Woman with a DD-214”.

If you aren’t a US military veteran, a DD-214 is the form that certifies you have been honorably discharged from the US military, and since this all took place on Memorial Day weekend, thanks to all of our Vets for your service!

We walked around the little town of Coopersville after that, and I’m told that it is quite quaint; a really nice place to visit, but to be honest with you, my 10-year-old self and I really didn’t notice the town, or much of anything else that day, for we had sat in the engineer’s seat of a live locomotive… Yippee!

You can find the Coopersville and Marne website here.

About Don Merritt

A long time teacher and writer, Don hopes to share his varied life's experiences in a different way with a Christian perspective.
This entry was posted in Christian Life and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

12 Responses to A Saturday in Coopersville

  1. paulfg says:

    Here’s to 10 year olds! May they never age!! 🙂

  2. Bette Cox says:

    Don, last summer I rode the train from my town Florence, SC to Alexandria, VA to visit my son – a full day’s ride with many stops along the way. The whistle blew and the train wobbled back and forth nearly the whole trip. I loved every mile, every jiggle, every clack. 🙂

  3. pipermac5 says:

    WOOHOO!!! I would have been right up there with you, because my grandpa McFarland was a railroader back in the late 1800’s to early 1900’s.

    Thank you for your service Mrs. Merritt! I served too, US Army, 1974-1977.



  4. I’m kind of partial to the rusty gold look of that first locomotive.

  5. I feel the same way about baseball. Take me to a park to see a game and I am a child again. Can never get the same thrill by watching it on television, or listening to it on the radio.

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