The Clinton Branch History


The Clinton Branch is an offshoot of the Erie & Kalamazoo Railroad, which opened between Toledo, Ohio and Adrian, Michigan on October 3, 1836. This was Michigan's first railroad when it was still in the Old Northwest Territory!


Railroad construction continued at a brisk pace in these early days, and by 1837, a new line to be known as the Palmyra & Jacksonburg Railroad was pushed north from the E&K at Palmyra, Michigan to Tecumseh, Michigan. The first train arrived in Tecumseh in August of 1838. The new line ran out of capital at that point, and construction stopped.


For several years, the P&J operated service to Tecumseh with two passenger wagons, eight freight wagons, and 12 horses! In 1849, the state sold the P&J to the Michigan Southern Railroad. The MS then continued construction of the line northward. The first train arrived in Clinton on December 31, 1853, providing a nice Christmas present to the residents of the village. The building then continued northward, and in 1856, Jackson was reached.


The Clinton Branch was now an important through line from Toledo to Jackson. Several corporate changes took place. The MS became known as the Lake Shore & Michigan Southern Railroad. At this time, there were six passenger trains a day over the line. In 1882, 21,262 passenger tickets were sold at the Tecumseh depot! Freight shipping was also booming. Products shipped in 1893 from Tecumseh included: 4,000,000 pounds of flour, 480,000 pounds of celery, 2,000,000 feet of lumber, and 8,600 buggies!


In 1924, Commodore Vanderbilt merged the LS&MS into' the New York Central System. By the 1930's the automobile had made a dent into the passenger traffic. The last passenger train ran September 24, 1938, using a gas-electric motor car know as a "doodlebug".


Freight traffic continued to boom during World War II, but after that, fell off. In 1963, the tracks were removed between Jackson and Manchester, and in 1965, between Manchester and Clinton.


Service continued for 15 more years between Toledo and Clinton under the New York Central, later the Penn Central, and. then Conrail. Traffic continued to decline, and in December 1981, Conrail filed to abandon the line. The last run took place on March 11, 1982.