Norfolk and Western's J-class Northerns were not the biggest or the fastest, but they were well-designed and powerful. One survived into preservation, operated in excursion service well into the late 20th century, and it has been brought back into steam by current owner Norfolk Southern.
In honor of its return, some impressions of an excursion powered by this locomotive, from the Detroit area to Fort Wayne and return.
On the run to Ft. Wayne, the excursion stopped for a photo run-by. This is not a disaster about to happen, as the locomotive is reversing and the kids are placing pennies on the rails.
For the runby itself, people waited well back from the tracks, in order for photographers to get clear pictures.
Midwesterners used to refer to N&W as "Nickel Plate and Wabash" and those components got into the act on the excursion, which used Wabash metals most of the way to Fort Wayne, then going into the Nickel Plate depot in Fort Wayne, which served the Wabash Cannonball up to Amtrak day. The station was still in pretty good shape 14 years into the Amtrak era.
Here's the wye move, using Wabash tracks. That's The Pennsylvania Railroad, er, Conrail, in the foreground.
Norfolk and Western (and Southern) preferred high-short-end diesels ... that is a high short end GP30 at rear. South Shore diesel in the middle, in those days the 800-class electrics were still running.
On the Pennsy now to return to the Nickel Plate station.
Returning to Michigan. Train included cars from the Norfolk and Western steam excursion train and from the Bluewater Michigan Chapter car collection.