Before March ends, I thought it worth noting that March this year marks 35 years since the last freight train passed through Tecumseh, ending 145 years of continuous freight service on the Clinton Branch between Lenawee Junction and Tecumseh.

It was on 11 March 1982 that Conrail GP-7 #5903 ventured up from Toledo to collect the final freight cars from Clinton, following the embargo of the line. Although already slated for abandonment, the winter of 1982 had been a tough one on the line. Severe winter weather had led to repeated derailments on packed ice, and Conrail finally embargoed the line due to poor track conditions, ending service before the abandonment date arrived. Even the final northbound run derailed in downtown Tecumseh.

The last train derailed in Tecumseh

Track crews work to re-rail Conrail GP-7 #5903 in Tecumseh on 11 March 1982. The locomotive had derailed on ice in front of Ken-Ray Drugs. (Photograph by Brad Barritt)

After re-railing the locomotive, the train continued north to Clinton to collect empty cars from Pallox, Inc., before heading south the same day. Without ceremony, Conrail had left town, leaving the future of the tracks up in the air.

The last train to Clinton at Brown Street.

Conrail #5903 crosses Brown Street in Tecumseh, with the last freight train for Clinton on 11 March 1982. A crewman looks for any obstacles, following the earlier derailment south of here. (Photograph by Brad Barritt)


Thanks go to Brad Barritt for documenting the last run and providing these photographs.



  1. Eric Griswold October 8, 2017 at 5:05 pm

    Thankyou for this. I lived in Clinton from 1960 to 1962. I remember when the line was pulled from Manchester to Clinton. And I remember seeing one of the last West bound freights from Ypsilanti to White Pigeon, Michigan go through Manchester , Michigan on the old Ypsilanti Branch in 1960.
    Further, I came back in August of 1972 to view the station at Lenawee Jct, only to encounter a PC NW2 coming out of Adrian #8992 w/ a Leslie 5 chime horn. The engineer let me run the train from there to Tecumseh, Michigan !!! His fireman drove my car to Tecumseh for me . This trip included crossing the Wabash at Raison Center as well . I have the entire adventure written down, (didn’t have a camera at the time) , and I can send you a copy if I have your mailing address. Sincerely, Eric Griswold

    • Jeffrey Dobek October 23, 2017 at 4:23 pm

      Hello Eric. Thank you for your comment!

      I’d love to hear more of your memories of the line. It would be interesting, too, to hear what operations were like in Clinton in the 60s. Was it served by a turn out of Adrian?

  2. Ben November 19, 2019 at 4:30 pm

    I’d like to read that story! And anything about the final years on both lines through Manchester.


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