Generations ago, train travel was a primary means of transportation around Michigan. Yet, many children today have never experienced the adventure of riding the rails with the clacking of the wheels on the tracks, the faint smell of the locomotive’s exhaust and the feel of wind in their hair while aboard the open gondola car.
The Southern Michigan Railroad hopes to change all that, offering fall excursions that give families the opportunity to slow down, enjoy time together and appreciate the historic nature of train travel.
Leaving from Clinton, the 45-minute ride travels 5 miles south through farmland and forests over the newly renovated Red Mill Pond trestle bridge into Tecumseh where passengers can enjoy a 75-minute break before heading back.
“During the layover, you can see Tecumseh’s historic architecture, visit their unique shops or eat in one of their delicious restaurants,” said Chuck Pearson, a volunteer board member for the Southern Michigan Railroad Society, the nonprofit that runs the train that has become an active railroad museum.
A downtown foodie trail offers many savory options, including The British Tea Garden, Pentamere Winery and Tecumseh Brewing Company, among others. The self-guided walking Art Trail Tecumseh also makes a great way to pass the time. The Tecumseh Area Historical Society and Museum is open 10:30 a.m.-3:30 p.m. Saturdays, while the Brookside Cemetery provides an interesting walk through history.
On October weekends, the Fall Color Tours travel from Tecumseh south through the vibrant countryside and along the steep bluffs overlooking The Nature Conservancy’s Ives Road Fen Preserve in Raisin Township.
For added fun, make plans to ride Oct. 12-13 during the Tecumseh Appleumpkin Festival where midway rides, carnival games, a flea market, antique street fair and other activities are planned, including shuttles to Kapnick Orchards for cider, doughnuts and more, just 4 miles south of town.
For excursion dates, times and tickets, visit southernmichiganrailroad.com. ≈
—Dianna Stampfler, Michigan BLUE Magazine