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Curwood Castle Museum

On Saturday, May 18th, under partly-sunny skies and high 70’s, twenty JAGM members arrived in Owosso, MI, from Petoskey to Northville and points in between. We met at the Curwood Castle Museum Park at 1:00 PM. Our first stop was the Curwood Castle Museum. The building was the studio of James Oliver Curwood, one of America’s foremost authors. Writing and love of nature were his boyhood interests and by 1908 Curwood was earning most of his living as a novelist. Most of his stories were adventure tales set in the Canadian North, where he spent much of his time. During the 1920s, his books were among the most popular in North America, and many were made into movies. The Castle was built in 1922 and a number of his latter works were composed in the tower, overlooking the Shiawassee River.

As we moved down the Shiawassee River toward our second stop at the Shiawassee Arts Center, we stopped to investigate the Heritage Suspension Bridge. You could feel its’ movements as people walked across. The view of the river was spectacular and Chuck Mueller recalled for us his earlier experiences canoeing the Shiawassee River. We stopped at the Shiawassee Art Center, which showcases the work of regional and national artists in nine galleries, as well the impressionist painting of Frederick Frieseke.

Our next stop was the Steam Railroad Institute. It was such a nice afternoon that we decided to leave our Jags at the Park and walk the 0.6 miles through town. It took us about 15 minutes.

At the SRI we split into three groups and were led through the yard by docents to see, two sleeper cars, one passenger car, a coal keeper (storage tank) and a water keeper. We also went inside a Caboose, and tried out its high perched seats with windows in the middle.

We then moved to their maintenance building. There we met three volunteers just finishing up with some work. We got an up close view of the very big, oily bits of locomotives, including the Pere Marquette 1225 that inspired Disney’s Polar Express. Based on the conversations taking place, our members seemed to have a lot of interest, and curiosity, in these locomotives.

Some of the younger-at-heart members took a ride on the train. It wobbled about as it went down the rails, but elicited smiles from both the riders and the onlookers.

Our final stop was Lula’s Louisiana Cookhouse. which was just a couple of blocks from the SRI. The food and drink were very good as well as the many conversations taking place. And as the meal drew to a close a small cake with a candle arrived table side. We all joined in to sing “Happy Birthday” to Steven Myerscough, who had decided to celebrate his birthday with us.

Phil Crutchfield

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