Meridian Star

November 1, 2013

Steam and rail fests kick off today

The Meridian Star

MERIDIAN — By Terri Ferguson Smith

    Steam engines will be in action today and Saturday when the 11th annual Soulé Live Steam Festival returns. The festival brings visitors from around the country to see steam engines in action in Meridian.

    Greg Hatcher, executive director of the Mississippi Industrial Heritage Museum at the historic Soulé Steam Works factory, said steam engines will be running at the museum, which houses old engines, tools, a collection of more than 2,000 photographs and other items.

    "Everything is looking good and coming together," Hatcher said Thursday. "We are looking forward to a good crowd and having school groups coming on Friday."

    In conjunction with the Soule festival, the Meridian Railroad Museum will host its annual Railfest just down the street.

    Mick Nussbaum, museum director, said the museum's model railroad, which he described as one of the best in the country, will be on display.

    "There will be trains everywhere," Nussbaum said.

    This year Amtrack's exhibit train will be here and available for free tours throughout the festival. Two special locomotives that are both painted with patriotic color schemes will also be on hand; Amtrack's Locomotive 42 and a Norfolk Southern locomotive.

    Railroad collectibles enthusiasts will also have plenty of merchandise from which to choose, Nussbaum said.

    At 8:45 a.m. on Saturday, there will be a ribbon cutting and a presentation to Mayor Percy Bland. At 9 a.m. everything will be open for business, Nussbaum said. Also during this weekend, the Gulf, Mobile and Ohio Railroad Historical Society will have its convention in Meridian, bringing in approximately 120 people to Meridian.

    Meridian native Jay Parker Lamb, a noted railroad photographer, will be present for Railfest and will sign copies of his book.

    All events are free and open to the public.