Abandoned Michigan Railroads

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Abandoned Michigan Railroads

Unread postby wagnew0923 » Wed Jul 11, 2012 5:50 pm

Does anyone know anything about these two abandoned rail trails

The line that ran from Monroe to Petersburg and on to Adrian. When was that in service and what kind of cargo was shipped on it.

Also the line from Cold Water to Sturgis. I noticed that most of the track is still there but the crossings have all been paved over. I know an excursion train runs along part of that line but I thought it was towards Hillsdale.

I plan to hike both of these lines. Does anyone know of any other abandoned rail lines in Michigan worth seeing. Stuff not ruined by rail trails.
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Re: Abandoned Michigan Railroads

Unread postby MRC_Andrew » Wed Jul 11, 2012 11:17 pm

I believe these lines are (or were) some of the oldest in the state, maybe as far back as the 1840s. Others here can fill you in on their ancient history, but I'm pretty sure they date from Lake Shore & Michigan Southern days, eventually coming under New York Central, Penn Central, and Conrail control. I have an old NYC employee timetable from 1957 which shows the lines you name as being part of the Toledo Division: there was a line called "The Old Road" that ran from Toledo through Adrian, Hillsdale, Sturgis, and Coldwater to Elkhart. (EDIT: This is the line on which the Little River RR operates a steam tourist train today, from Coldwater east to Quincy.) At Lenawee Junction, the line to Petersburg branched off to the east. It is shown as being called the "Ida Branch," and (at least on this timetable) doesn't appear to go all the way to Monroe. (EDIT #2: The branch is shown terminating at Ida.) There was also "the Jackson Branch" which diverged at Lenawee Jct and went to Jackson via Tecumseh and Clinton. (The section between Tecunseh and Clinton is now run by the SMRS.) I can't speak to specific comodities carried in freights, although I have seen early 1940s pictures showing livestock cars on sidings on the Old Road. There were also quite a few passenger trains, until at least the early 50s, I think. There are no passenger trains listed on the timetable I have...
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Re: Abandoned Michigan Railroads

Unread postby Tom » Thu Jul 12, 2012 5:14 am

wagnew0923 wrote:Does anyone know anything about these two abandoned rail trails

The line that ran from Monroe to Petersburg and on to Adrian. When was that in service and what kind of cargo was shipped on it.

Also the line from Cold Water to Sturgis. I noticed that most of the track is still there but the crossings have all been paved over. I know an excursion train runs along part of that line but I thought it was towards Hillsdale.

I plan to hike both of these lines. Does anyone know of any other abandoned rail lines in Michigan worth seeing. Stuff not ruined by rail trails.


I don't know that Coldwater to Sturgis is abandoned. There is still crossing protection in place and the rails are still intact. I haven't found anything but rumors from people hoping for another useless "rail trail".

I wouldn't hike it. Lots of adjacent landowners think they already own the right of way.
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Re: Abandoned Michigan Railroads

Unread postby MP73point4 » Thu Jul 12, 2012 5:26 am

Tom wrote:I wouldn't hike it. Lots of adjacent landowners think they already own the right of way.

I think it would be fun to hike. If any adjacent landowner confronts you, tell them you're from an engineering firm scouting for the railroad and they're considering using the line again and adding a second track for some new garbage and chemical train business. Then just move on and leave them standing with their mouths hanging open.
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Re: Abandoned Michigan Railroads

Unread postby wagnew0923 » Thu Jul 12, 2012 7:14 am

I know the crossing signs are there but the track in some areas is paved over. I am hoping to learn some more about the history of the lines by walking them. This weekend it is looking like I will be going from Petersburg to Deerfield.
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Re: Abandoned Michigan Railroads

Unread postby AC60CW » Thu Jul 12, 2012 9:53 am

The line that went through Lenewee Junction and down to Blissfield and down to Toledo. Going north, through Tecumseh, Clinton up to Manchester turning west to Napoleon then to Jackson. Crossing US127 just south of Alro Steel. This was the NYC/PC Railroad (at the end). My father lived in Clinton growing up. He has told me many stories about it. Towards the end (around mid 1950s) Clinton would receive lumber and coal mostly. He talked about mixed freight cars passing through to the north. In Tecumseh the Product (Tecumseh Products) was major industry server by this rail. Fertilizer supplier midway between Tecumseh and Clinton (Staib Rd.). I can remember when I was a kid seeing trains running down the track between Clinton and Tecumseh. That would have been 1974ish. By this time it was PC. I only remember the black locomotives.

As for the east west line. It continued west to Clayton, Coldwater all the way to Chicago. Good old map showing these.

http://usgwarchives.org/maps/michigan/s ... mich-2.jpg

Like mentioned it was the LS&MS
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Re: Abandoned Michigan Railroads

Unread postby TrainWatcher » Thu Jul 12, 2012 11:26 am

Doug you should bring your Dad and come see it now! And if you or your Dad has photos I'd love to see some.

The line north of Lenawee Junction in PC/Conrail was referred to as the "Clinton Secondary" and if the mapping I have seen looks correct it would have connected near the point of where the current JAIL enters NS trackage at Jackson, making it a straight shot from Lenawee Junction to Lansing at one time. The line had an assigned caboose even, PC 19882, a former Hew Haven N5 class, which now resides in a museum in CT in Conrail paint. Passenger service via a "doodlebug" (not sure what the NYC had as a doodlebug as the RDC's I don't think came along til later) ended in 1938.

Doug does your Dad remember when the Grain Elevator in Clinton stopped shipping? The spur for the fertilizer company is still inplace at Staib Road.
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Re: Abandoned Michigan Railroads

Unread postby AC60CW » Thu Jul 12, 2012 12:09 pm

When it got to Jackson. It ran along the road the Dawn products and Daemon products are on. It went west from there a bit. But from what I can tell turned north close to Elm St and came up around the old round house would have. I still visit the area regularly. My family still live in the area. In Tecumseh my aunts family owns the quarry on the south side of town.

I will ask him about the grain elevator when I talk to him next. He is out in Nevada visiting my grandfather right now.
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Re: Abandoned Michigan Railroads

Unread postby AC60CW » Thu Jul 12, 2012 12:17 pm

Oh yea...one of the worst days he remembers was the day they came and put the steam engine that ran the locals on a truck and left. The next day an ugly diesel made its appearance on the line. To hear him tell this story is like a little kid telling how his puppy died. He also talks alot about riding the steam engine while it would make its round. And the water cooler with paper cone cups. He said it was the best tasting water as a kid. I also guess his brothers and he built a wood fort from lumber that was "laying around".
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Re: Abandoned Michigan Railroads

Unread postby wagnew0923 » Thu Jul 12, 2012 12:26 pm

I saw on Google maps a wrecked or dismantled trestle about a mile north of Clinton. Is there anyway to access this.
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Re: Abandoned Michigan Railroads

Unread postby TrainWatcher » Thu Jul 12, 2012 12:58 pm

Yea, I think he would have a kick coming out and riding at SMRS. Prolly bring back a lot of memories. Kind of odd that NYC took the steam locomotive out via truck and didn't just steam it to Jackson, but maybe the line was cut back by then so they would have had no other choice unless they ran it the long way around via the Old Road.
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Re: Abandoned Michigan Railroads

Unread postby AC60CW » Thu Jul 12, 2012 8:51 pm

wagnew0923 wrote:I saw on Google maps a wrecked or dismantled trestle about a mile north of Clinton. Is there anyway to access this.


Not sure, but I believe you can. I remember as a kid going fishing there. Although we never went to the trestle. My father also talks of riding their bike to that trestle and fishing off it regularly.
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Re: Abandoned Michigan Railroads

Unread postby wagnew0923 » Thu Jul 12, 2012 8:57 pm

I will have to look at the map again to see if there is a way around the farms
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Re: Abandoned Michigan Railroads

Unread postby AC60CW » Wed Jul 18, 2012 8:45 pm

I almost forgot, that the GM plant (Fisher Body IIRC) on the south side of Clinton also had rail service. But I want to think it ended in the mid to late 70's as well.
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Re: Abandoned Michigan Railroads

Unread postby AARR » Thu Jul 19, 2012 7:16 pm

AC60CW wrote:I almost forgot, that the GM plant (Fisher Body IIRC) on the south side of Clinton also had rail service. But I want to think it ended in the mid to late 70's as well.

If that is the plant west of Tecumseh I thought it was still shipping by rail in the 1980's because that is when DT&I abandoned its track north of Napoleon to Tecumseh and NW picked up the track to serve the plant.
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Re: Abandoned Michigan Railroads

Unread postby AC60CW » Thu Jul 19, 2012 9:00 pm

That's was a Fisher Body plant as well. I also remember that line being there as well as a child growing up. But, no, the one I am referring to is right on the southern edge of Clinton. Tecumseh Products owned it fairly recently, just before they closed shop. There was a spur that entered the rear SW corner of the plant, and can still be seen through Google maps. I can't remember if it was a Fisher Body plant for sure, but I am fairly sure. My Uncle Bob retired from there.
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Re: Abandoned Michigan Railroads

Unread postby GreatLakesRailfan » Tue Jul 24, 2012 1:27 pm

wagnew0923 wrote:I know the crossing signs are there but the track in some areas is paved over.


Paving over a crossing makes it less strenuous on vehicular traffic using the crossing, especially when the line is out of service or almost out of service. Usually it's done by the local road or highway authority, and not always with the permission of the railroad. However, for the most part, if the railroad wants to run a train down the track, it's not that big of a deal (for the railroad) to cut new flangeways in the crossing.

That being said, I would never assume that a railroad is abandoned just because the crossings were paved over. There is a former C&O line up in the Thumb, currently owned by Detroit Edison, that hasn't seen a train in well over a decade, but which hasn't been abandoned yet either. In fact there was a rumor floating around a year or so ago that it was going to see some sort of traffic again, after some minor brush clearing or spike work or something had been done. Even though some of the grade crossings on the line have been paved over, and several inches of dirt cover the dirt road crossings, the line is not abandoned.
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Re: Abandoned Michigan Railroads

Unread postby Jochs » Tue Jul 24, 2012 8:05 pm

MP73point4 wrote:
Tom wrote:I wouldn't hike it. Lots of adjacent landowners think they already own the right of way.

I think it would be fun to hike. If any adjacent landowner confronts you, tell them you're from an engineering firm scouting for the railroad and they're considering using the line again and adding a second track for some new garbage and chemical train business. Then just move on and leave them standing with their mouths hanging open.


I rode a train on the Michigan Southern between Sturgis and Coldwater back around 1994, and again in 1996. I was in a passenger car. I don't remember if it was a regular excursion or something extra though.

Another line that is still there but not used is the old KLS&C between Hartford and Paw Paw. The tracks are used in Hartford up to the cold storage building, but east of there they are grown over.
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Re: Abandoned Michigan Railroads

Unread postby SD80MAC » Tue Jul 24, 2012 10:23 pm

Jochs wrote:
MP73point4 wrote:
Tom wrote:I wouldn't hike it. Lots of adjacent landowners think they already own the right of way.

I think it would be fun to hike. If any adjacent landowner confronts you, tell them you're from an engineering firm scouting for the railroad and they're considering using the line again and adding a second track for some new garbage and chemical train business. Then just move on and leave them standing with their mouths hanging open.


I rode a train on the Michigan Southern between Sturgis and Coldwater back around 1994, and again in 1996. I was in a passenger car. I don't remember if it was a regular excursion or something extra though.

Another line that is still there but not used is the old KLS&C between Hartford and Paw Paw. The tracks are used in Hartford up to the cold storage building, but east of there they are grown over.

Sounds like you were on the Little River Railroad Jeff, back when they ran over the MSO prior to the sale to Pioneer.
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Re: Abandoned Michigan Railroads

Unread postby wagnew0923 » Tue Jul 24, 2012 11:03 pm

That Paw Paw line sounds like fun
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