In the early 1980s, the Village of Clinton, Michigan held a “Christmas Walk” on the Sunday after Thanksgiving each year. Being civic-minded, the newly formed Southern Michigan Railroad Society (SMRS) worked with the village to bring Santa to town each year and hosted an open house for families in the under-renovation SMRS museum building. The exercise promoted the fledgling SMRS, and at the same time provided a service to the community.

In the first years of the SMRS, the group owned no locomotives nor passenger cars. Only track motor cars were being used on the line. So it was a natural decision for Santa to arrive by motor car! The man behind Santa was Neil Hunter, the editor of The Clinton Local, the village newspaper.

November 27, 1983

In 1983, Santa came to town on the first motor car owned by the SMRS, ex-Ann Arbor #M-76. The car had been donated to SMRS earlier in the year, and was not yet completely restored nor in running order! Although Santa was pushed into Clinton that year, but at least he came by rail!

Santa arrives in Clinton 1983

Santa arrives in Clinton, MI on 27 November 1983. (The Cross Tracks archive)

Santa arrives in Clinton 1983

Santa arrives in Clinton, MI on 27 November 1983. (The Cross Tracks archive)

Santa arrives in Clinton 1983

Santa arrives in Clinton, MI on 27 November 1983. (The Cross Tracks archive)

 

November 25, 1984

By 1984, SMRS had upped its game! Several running motor cars were on the property. SMRS member Doug Leffler hosted Santa on his ex-New York Central Fairmont M9, swooping into Clinton from around the curve by the Pallox Company. And the SMRS had another motor car running, giving short rides to children from the museum building in Clinton to the south end of the yard and return.

Again parents and children were invited to the museum building to meet with Santa. Coffee and refreshments were available, and a small exhibit of railroad artifacts were on display.

Santa arrives in Clinton 1984

Santa asks SMRS member Gerald Grossman if he’d been good, before making the run into Clinton on 25 November 1984. (The Cross Tracks archive)

Santa comes to Clinton 1984

Doug Leffer delivers Santa to Clinton on 25 November 1984. (Gerald Grossman photo)

Santa arrives in Clinton 1984

Santa entertains the children in the SMRS museum building on 25 November 1984. These children would be in their 30s now! (Gerald Grossman photo)

Santa comes to Clinton 1984

The “Santa speeder” rests in the Clinton yard after its duty on 25 November 1984. Behind it is the SMRS speeder used the previous year (now restored and with glass), and in the distance another speeder being used to give rides this day. (The Cross Tracks archive)

 

This post is part of an ongoing series highlighting the “golden age” of the Southern Michigan Railroad Society in the 1980s. Too see more posts from this series, click on the SMRS tag at the bottom of this post.

 

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

 

 

 

Theme by HermesThemes

Copyright © 2017 Tecumseh Junction. All Rights Reserved