Although no one would mistake it for the early 1990s, summer 2009 was a good season for large U.S. steam locomotives, anchored by the Steam Railroading Institute’s Train Festival 2009 in Owosso, Mich. The iron horses put on a fine show across the Midwest, as captured by the Yard Goat Images video crew. The star performer was Southern Pacific Daylight 4-8-4 No. 4449, which traveled cross-country from Portland, Ore., to join the festival. This DVD has some stirring action sequences of the Daylight engine roaring across North Dakota, Minnesota, and Wisconsin, in both directions, in addition to its more subdued operations at Owosso.

Sharing the limelight at Owosso (and also in a separate sequence in North Judson, Ind.) is Nickel Plate 2-8-4 No. 765, looking fabulous after its overhaul. The only disappointment is Pete Marquette 2-8-4 No. 1225: The institute’s ”host engine” was on restricted duty due to a mechanical problem.
The producers round out the Midwest big-steam action with some nice scenes of Soo Line 4-6-2 No. 2719 performing out of Duluth, Minn., at the 2009 National Railway Historical Society convention, as well as a glimpse of an impressive newcomer: Santa Fe 4-6-2 No. 3415, fresh from its restoration on the Abilene & Smoky Valley Railroad in Abilene, Kan. Throw in some additional scenes in Michigan of Huckleberry Railroad’s narrow-gauge, ex-Denver & Rio Grande 2-8-2 No. 464 and Little River Railroad 4-6-2 No. 110 and you have the makings of a respectable steam season.

The producers let their excellent videography do the talking: They live up to their promise of “minimal narration.”