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Adrian and Blissfield Rare Mileage Excursion ~ May 13th, 2013

by Elizabeth Guenzler

This was the penultimate rail excursion of the May 2013 trips organized by Bart Jennings and sponsored by the Southern Appalachia Railway Museum. After the excellent experiences aboard the Charlotte Southern and the Southern Michigan Railroad Society earlier in the day, I knew the last trip of the day would equal the other two.

The Adrian and Blissfied does run a dinner train but this trip did not include dinner. That information was known to everyone beforehand so during our drive from Clinton to Adrian, Chris and I stopped at a Subway to pick up dinner so we could eat it on the train. Once we arrived, there was plenty to see and photograph.

Adrian and Blissfield SW1200 1223 (ex. ADBF 23, exx. AEX SW1200 999990, exxx. Saginaw Valley SW900 9999 "Village of Rochelle" exxxx. Huron and Eastern 5323, exxxxx. South Central Tennessee 5322, nee Bellefonte Central 5323 1953) was in front of the shops.

ADBR SW1200 1223 and the shop building of Adrian and Blissfield Railroad.

The former Wabash station in Adrian.

The Blissfield East station at the boarding area which is a replica and used to be at the Henry Ford Museum.

Former Duluth, Winnipeg and Pacific caboose 53101.

Adrian and Blissfield yard scene.

ADBF dining car 3370 "Columbia River" (e. J.L. Hyde, exx. AMTK 3370 1972, exxx. UP 6202 1956, nee UP 6202 "Columbia River" 1949). PPCX 800130.

ADBF coach 5197 "River Raisin" (ex. Conrail 1983, exx. VIA 5197 1978, nee CN 5917).

ADBF coach 2959 "Hudson River" (nee Long Island Railroad commuter coach) built 1956. The ceiling has a New York Central emblem.

Former Amtrak material handling car, either 1427, 1430, 1439 or 1452.

Canadian Pacific dome-observation "Riding Mountain Park", ex. VIA 15512 and acquired by Adrian and Blissfield in 2005.

ADBF baggage car 10092 (ex. AMTK 10092, exx. AMTK 1087, exxx. Kansas City Southern 23, nee Kansas City SOuthern 74 1960).

Grand Trunk Western caboose 79053.

Canadian National caboose 79619.

ADBF GP9 1751 (nee Grand Trunk 4545), the power for today's excursion.

ADBF GP9 1755 (ex. Massachusetts Central 7125, exx. New Hampshire Northcoast 7125, exxx. Conrail 7125, exxxx. Penn Central 7125, nee Pennsylvania Railroad 7125).

Adrian and Blissfield yard scene.

Our train for the evening.

Adrian and Blissfield History

The Adrian and 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 the first railroad west of the Allegheny Mountains. The first rail trip between Adrian and Port Lawrence (Toledo) was made on November 2nd, 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 30th, 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 (ADBF) 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.

We boarded the train, taking seats in the former Canadian National coach and ate our dinner while we waited for the 18:00 departure. Upon leaving Adrian, we passed the former Lake Shore and Michigan Southern Railroad station built in 1875 that used to be at Deerfield.

Crossing the River Raisin.

Interior of CN coach 5197, now ADBF "River Raisin".

A barn and Michigan farmland as we set out this early evening.

A rural scene between Blissfield and Palmyra. After finishing my meal, I walked the train and joined Chris and Bart Jennings at the rear of the car to enjoy good conversations and the views from the back platform of the train.

The tracks upon which we had just travelled, near Palmyra.

Palmyra station, the usual stop for the Adrian and Blissfield Dinner Train. However, we continued ever westward.

Michigan countryside between Palmyra and Lewanee Junction.

Views from the rear of the train.

The east switch at Lewanee Junction.

The Adrian and Blissfield Old Road line to Toledo, branching off at Lewanee Junction, MP 324.7.

Lewanee Junction, MP 324.7, as far west as our rare mileage train travelled. For those who wanted it, a tour of the train was then given.

The kitchen seciton of ADBF 3370 "Columbia River". When it was built in 1949, this was a barber's shop.

The dining area of ADBF 3370 "Columbia River".

Interior of ADBF 2959 "Hudson River", built 1956 for the Long Island Railroad. The rear of the train beckoned so I returned.

It is always fun to watch the scenery go by from the rear platform.

Blissfield West station, used for short trips on the Adrian and Blissfield.

The Erie and Kalamazoo Railroad historical marker was passed.

On the approach to the 1907 single through-truss bridge over the River Raisin.

About to go through the bridge over the River Raisin. This is one of the advantages of being able to ride on the rear platform.

Off the bridge and around the curve is the railway's yard.

Passing B 319 mileage marker.

Another view of the Lake Shore and Michigan Southern station from Deerfield as we neared the end of our journey.

Returning to the yard.

A last view from the rear of the train as we entered the yard. Everyone detrained but there were a couple more pictures to take.

The Toledo and Western Railway interurban station in Blissfield. After thanking Bart and Sarah for a fantastic weekend of trips, I said my goodbyes to them and the other passengers. I was going to be flying home the following day as I needed to keep one more day available for the National Railway Historical Society's convention in September, so regrettably could not participate in the Ashtabula, Carson and Jefferson trip in Ohio the following day, or the visits that Chris made to area museums. Upon our return, Chris drove us to Romulus, Michigan, near the Detroit airport where we stayed overnight, then I took the shuttle bus to the airport for my flight back to Seattle.

What an incredible weekend of rare mileage excursions this had been! Everything about the weekend had been fabulous and memories last to this day. I wish I had been able to be involved in the other such trips that Bart has operated over the years but I will never miss any future ones.