Consumers Energy Donates Vintage Locomotive to the Steam Railroading Institute

The Steam Railroading Institute (SRI) of Owosso, MI is pleased to announce that Consumers Energy has generously donated a diesel switch locomotive to the Institute.

Prior to officially transferring ownership, Consumers Energy and the SRI unveiled the locomotive’s new number, 1155, which pays homage to Lima Locomotive Works’ number designation given to the group of steam locomotives ordered by the Pere Marquette in 1941.

“At Consumers Energy we believe in leaving things better than we found them, and when it comes to decommissioning facilities, we strive to make thoughtful and intentional choices about what to do with retired equipment,” said Cathy Wilson, Executive Director of corporate giving for Consumers Energy. “This is especially true for pieces like this locomotive, which may have reached the end of its career moving coal at Karn, but will be of incredible historical and educational value. We look forward to seeing the Steam Railroading Institute put it to excellent use.”

The locomotive, a SW1200 End Cab 112 Ton Switcher, was manufactured between 1955 and 1960 by the Electro-Motive Division of General Motors at its London, Ontario plant. Weighing about 224,000 pounds, the locomotive pulled about 66 coal cars, roughly 16 million pounds, at the Dan E. Karn Generating Plant in Essexville, MI to help generate electricity for Consumers Energy customers.

In response to the donation, Dean Pyers, Executive Director of the Steam Railroading Institute stated “The Steam Railroading Institute is very pleased and excited to accept this donation from Consumers Energy. This locomotive will join our Pere Marquette 1225 steam locomotive in excursion service and will tremendously help in moving our vintage passenger coaches around our railyard for demonstrations and train excursion prep work. SRI will proudly display and operate this locomotive and use it as a great teaching tool to help explain the transition era from steam to diesel locomotives.”

The plant, named for former Consumers Energy President Dan E. Karn began operating on a 2,400-acre site on Lake Huron’s shore in Essexville 64 years ago. While two natural gas and oil facilities remain operational on the site, Karn’s two coal-fired facilities were decommissioned in June 2023 as part of the company’s Clean Energy Plan, a roadmap in the shift away from coal and fossil fuels, while still providing the reliable, affordable energy customers expect. The locomotive delivered its last load of coal to the plants in December 2022. 

Consumers Energy is Michigan’s largest energy provider, providing natural gas and/or electricity to 6.7 million of the state’s 10 million residents in all 68 Lower Peninsula counties. The Steam Railroading Institute is a nonprofit dedicated to educating the public about steam era railroading in Michigan and the Great Lakes Region. This includes the preservation of the skills and technology used for maintaining steam locomotives by operating steam era equipment and providing the experience of steam locomotives in actual operation.