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Southern Michigan Railroad Society 5/13/2013

by Chris Guenzler

Elizabeth and I arrived in Clinton, Michigan and parked just about the time switching took place. This was the second of three rare mileage trips today that Bart Jennings was operating.

Southern Michigan Railroad Society 44 ton switcher 75, ex. US Plywood 75, nee Western Maryland 75, built by General Electric in 1943.

Brief History.

The Southern Michigan Railroad Society operates a 13.65 mile rail line from Lenawee Junction north ward through Raisin Center to Tecumseh to Clinton. It operates tourist trains from May through September on the five mile long Clinton to Tecumseh part of the line. It also operates a limited number of trips south of Raisin Center, 6.5 miles south of Tecumseh.

Palmyra & Jacksonburgh Railroad

The railroad was originally built as the Palmyra & Jacksonburgh Railroad in 1837. In April 1933, a charter was granted to the Erie and Kalamazoo Railroad Company to construct a railroad from Port Lawrence {now Toledo} to Adrian and then across Michigan to the Kalamazoo River and thus to Lake Michigan. The E&K reached Adrian in 1836, becoming the first railroad to reach into the Michigan Territory. With the obvious benefits of new railroad technology, the Palmyra & Jacksonburgh Railroad Company {under the control of the Erie and Kalamazoo} received a charter to construct a branch railroad 46 miles long from the E&K north through Tecumseh, Clinton and Manchester into Jacksonburgh {now Jackson}. The line reached Tecumseh on 1838, but suffered financially and came under State of Michigan control in 1844. It was sold to the Michigan Southern in 1846, which again began construction, reaching Clinton in 1853, Manchester in 1855 and Jacksonburgh in 1857. This makes this railroad the first branch line railroad off the first railroad in Michigan.

On the corporation side, the Michigan Southern Railroad consolidated with the Northern Indiana Railroad in 1855 and became the Michigan Southern and Northern Indiana Railroad in 1855. In 1869, the MS&NI consolidated with the Lake Shore Railway, creating the Lake Shore and Michigan Southern Railway. In 1915, the New York Central incorporated and consolidated with almost a dozen railroads, including the LS&MS.

By 1938, the expansion of highways caused a reduction of passenger and freight traffic and passenger service was discontinued in 1939. Starting in 1963, tracks were removed between Jackson and Clinton and the Jackson branch was eliminated. The 13.65-mile line from Lenawee Junction to Clinton continued limited freight activity under Penn Central, but Conrail filed for abandonment of the line in 1981.

The line was saved in 1985 when the Southern Michigan Railroad Society purchased the Clinton Branch and transformed it into an operating railroad museum. During the acquisition of the line, the Norfolk & Western Railroad operating the Detroit to Fort Wayne mainline of the former Wabash removed the crossing at Raisin Center, thus isolating the SMRS trackage.

The views around Clinton

The consist for today's train was SMRS switcher 75, caboose 19882, an open car and Chicago South Shore and South Bend coach 1.

The engine ran around the train.

Southern Michigan Railroad Society 44 ton switcher 10, ex. Detroit and Mackinac 10, nee Minneapolis and St. Louis D-742, built by General Electric in 1942 which was acquired by the group in 2012.

Southern Michigan Railroad Society caboose 19851, ex. Conrail 23821, exx. Penn Central 19851, nee New Haven C-626 built by Pullman Standard in 1944

Southern Michigan Railroad Society caboose 21692, nee New York Central 20403 built by St. Louis Car Company in 1952.

Southern Michigan Railroad Society open car built from a New York Central pipe gondola.

Chicago South Shore & South Bend 1 built by Pullman in 1926.

Southern Michigan Railroad Society operates out of the former freight house of Lake Shore and Michigan Southern Railway.

Our train waiting for the engine to return.

Caboose 19851 was cut off the train and would be spotted.

SMRS 75 waiting to cut off.

Two views before they cut off of the caboose.

SMRS 75 now has cut off and would head south to the switch before returning to our train.

The caboose was all alone now.

The front of our train after our engine had coupled back onto the train.

I boarded and on the way to the open car, took this picture of the interior of Chicago South Shore & South Bend 1.

Southern Michigan Railroad Society 44 ton switcher 10.

There are two railroad crossings in the Clinton Yard, here is one of them.

Our ticket for this trip.

Our Trip aboard the Southern Michigan Railroad Society train.

At noon, we departed Clinton for Raisin Center.

We ran by the lumber yard on the way out of town.

A passenger enjoying the open car.

Our route ran through the Michigan forest on a clear but cool afternoon.

Another open car picture.

Another view looking southeast.

This milepost had L 12 on one side and J 30 on the other.

A concrete whistlepost.

We crossed a few local roads on our way to Tecumseh.

Passengers enjoying the open car.

A lake created by the River Raisin called Red Millpond.

The train crossed the River Raisin.

More views of Red Millpond.

The former Railroad Crossing one mile sign.

Crossing another small creek just before Tecumseh.

A former siding on the north side of Tecumseh.

The trees are in bloom.

An old loading dock.

Coming into Tecumseh.

The J 33 Milepost.

Our route ran along the south side South Evans Street in Tecumseh where we stopped for a photo halt, as Bart calls a static photo stop.

Views of our train in Tecumseh during the photo halt. This is the furthest that the normal train comes from Clinton. After the extended photo and bathroom break, everyone reboarded the train to head to Raisin Center.

We crossed Michigan Highway 50.

Running along the same street as we left downtown Tecumseh.

Near the former rail crossing diamond which is still in the street beneath our train, was a train display. Tecumseh Junction was located at the intersection of South Evans Street and Cummins Street. The Junction was the crossing of the north-south Lake Shore & Michigan Southern Jackson branch and the west-east Detroit, Toledo & Milwaukee railroad. The Detroit, Toledo & Ironton also used the DT&M under trackage rights from their connection which was just west of this crossing. The crossing never had any type of interlocking. In 1916 it was protected by a gate.

The water tower in Tecumseh.

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