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Adrian & Blissfield Rail Road Old Road Dinner Train 5/13/2013

by Chris Guenzler

Elizabeth and I pulled into the parking lot of the Adrian & Blissfield Rail Road Old Road Dinner Train, the final rare mileage trip of the day, and Elizabeth's last of the set of trips.

The sign for this railroad.

A view of the Blissfield Yard which we would explore before boarding the train.

Adrian and Blissfied baggage car 6743, nee Southern Pacific 6743 built by Pacific Car and Foundry in 1962 and Central Vermont caboose 4043, nee Grand Trunk Western 79056, built by International Car in 1980.

Adrian and Blissfield three double bedroom/1 drawing room/buffet/lounge dome-observation "Riding Mountain Park", ex. VIA 15512, nee Canadian Pacific 15412, built by Budd Company in 1954 and acquired by Adrian and Blissfield in 2005.

Adrian and Blissfield baggage car 10092, ex. Amtrak 10092, exx. Amtrak 1087, exxx. Kansas City Southern 23, nee Kansas City Southern 78 built by Pullman Standard in 1960.

Amtrak material handling car 1452 built by Thrall in 1986.

Grand Trunk Western caboose 79053 built by International Car in 1980.

Canadian National Railway caboose 79619 built by the railway in 1973.

Adrian & Blissfield GP9R 1755, ex. Massachusetts Central 7125, exx. New Hampshire Northcoast 7125, exxx. Conrail 7125, exxxx. Penn Central 7125, nee Pennsylvania Railroad 7125 built by Electro-Motive Division in 1957.

I walked back to board the train and once at our table, we ate our sandwiches as we waited for the 6:00 PM departure.

A Brief History

The Adrian & Blissfield operates a part of the original Lake Shore & Michigan Southern "Old Road" route. This route was the original Toledo-Elkhart route, replaced by the New York Central route across northern Ohio and Indiana. Today, this improved route is the Norfolk Southern's mainline between Chicago and Cleveland and is used by Amtrak's Capitol Limited and Lake Shore Limited.

The route of the Adrian & Blissfield started as the Erie & Kalamazoo Railroad in 1833. It was the first railroad to reach into Michigan Territory and reportedly first railroad west of the Allegheny Mountains. The first rail trip between Adrian and Port Lawrence {Toledo} was made on November 2, 1836. Horse-drawn passenger and freight cars were used initially, with the first steam engine beginning service in 1837. The E&K became part of the Michigan Southern Railroad in 1846, which then was consolidated with the Northern Indiana Railroad in 1855. The Lake Shore & Michigan Southern was formed in 1869 by consolidating the two railroads with several others. All became part of the New York Central System in 1915, operating as the Old Road Subdivision of the Toledo Division.

As the line became less important the tracks west of Adrian and east of Riga were abandoned. The line from Adrian to Riga was sold by Conrail to the State of Michigan. For more than a decade, the line was operated by the Lenawee County Railroad {1977-1990}. After traffic had dropped to only 300 cars a year, the LCRC ran its last train on September 30, 1990. In 1991, the Adrian And Blissfield purchased the line, the only intact part of the former LS&MS in Southern Michigan.

Adrian & Blissfield Rail Road Company

The Adrian And Blissfield is a short line railroad as well as a holding company operating a total of five short-line railroads in southeastern Michigan. The ADBF's operation began in 1991 with a 20-mile line between Adrian and Riga, Michigan. The Adrian and Blissfield line currently runs freight as well as the famous weekend Old Road Dinner Train, claimed to be the longest continuously-operating dinner train in North America. In addition to the Lenawee County line, the ADBF operates the Charlotte Southern Railroad, the Detroit Connecting Railroad, the Jackson & Lansing Railroad and the Lapeer Industrial Railroad. Today, about 4,000 carloads per year are handled by the railroad.

The Train

Our train waited for the 6:00 PM departure time this evening.

Adrian & Blissfield GP9R 1751, nee Grand Trunk Western 4545 built by Electro-Motive Division in 1957, would pulled our train this early evening.

Adrian & Blissfield power car "Watts Creek", ex. Adrian and Blissfield "Roaring Fork", nee Southern Pacific lightweight baggage car 6742 built by Pacific Car and Foundry in 1962.

Adrian & Blissfield coach 2959 "Hudson River", nee Long Island Railroad commuter coach 2959 built by Pullman in 1956. The ceiling has a New York Central emblem.

Adrian & Blissfield dining car 3370 "Columbia River", ex. J.L. Hyde, exx. Amtrak 3370 1972, exxx. Union Pacific 6202 1956, nee Union Pacific club-lounge 6202 "Columbia River" built by American Car and Foundry in 1949.

Adrian & Blissfield coach 5197 "River Raisin, ex. Conrail 1983, exx. VIA 5197 1978, nee Canadian National 5197 built by Canadian Car and Foundry in 1937. This would be the car we would all be riding in.

The Trip aboard the Adrian & Blissfield Rail Road Old Road Dinner Train

We headed northwest, passing ADBF caboose 4043. The plan was we would go out for 45 minutes and then return to Blissfield.

Going through the yard, we then passed "Riding Mountain Park".

Baggage car 6743 was then passed as we left the Blissfield Yard.

This Lake Shore and Michigan Southern depot from Deerfield was built in 1875 and later moved to this location in Blissfield.

Two views as we crossed the River Raisin.

Interior of "Raisin River", the car in which we were riding.

A Michigan barn.

A tree in bloom in this yard. I went to the rear of the train for the rest of our westbound trip, finding Bart Jennings there.

Our route was straight for most of the way.

More trees in bloom.

Michigan farmlands.

A siding took off to the south.

Views from the rear end.

The B 322 Milepost marker.

Taking a curve on this railroad.

The old siding switch for Palmyra.

The train went by the Palmyra station sign which is where the dinner train normally stops but we would continue west.

The B 323 Milepost.

Looking back as we neared Lenawee Junction.

The east switch at Lenawee Junction.

The east leg of the wye.

Lenawee Junction.

The west switch.

The switch for the siding at Lenawee Junction.

This picture marks our most west travel aboard the Adrian & Blissfield Rail Road Old Road Dinner Train. A crew would come to the rear end to protect the shove back to Blissfield and on the way back, we were given a tour of the train.

The interior of "Columbia River".

The interior of "Hudson River".

A view into "Watts Creek". I returned to the rear end.

The Blissfield West station stop for short trips.

The Erie and Kalamazoo Railroad sign.

We crossed the River Raisin also known in French as the Riviere des Raisin or the River of Grapes. The bridge was built the American Bridge Company in 1907 and is a single span Baltimore through truss.

The front building was the 1901 station of the Toledo & Western Railway, an interurban railway that served Blissfield at one time.

We passed the Blissfield station one last time.

Our train returned us to Blissfield and this was Elizabeth's last train ride of the trip since she needed had to save one more day of her vacation for the National Railway Historical Society convention in Alaska in September. From here we had a final set of pictures to take.

Toledo & Western Railway station in Blissfield. From here we drove up to Romulus where we both checked into the Red Roof Inn then said our goodbyes and I had an excellent trip with Elizabeth, who would fly home tomorrow, leaving me solo for the rest of this trip which started with the drive to Jefferson, Ohio in the morning.

Click here for Part 2 of this story