Color Touring Along the Rails

By Dianna Stampfler

Generations ago, train travel was a primary means of transportation around Michigan. Yet many of today’s children have never experienced the adventure of riding the rails with the clacking of the wheels along the tracks, the faint aroma of the locomotive’s exhaust in the air and the feel of the 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 five 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,” says volunteer board member Chuck Pearson.

A downtown foodie trail offers many savory options including The British Tea Garden, Pentamere Winery, J. Trees Cellar & Tasting Room and Tecumseh Brewing Company, among others. The self-guided walking Art Trail Tecumseh also makes a great way to pass the time. The Tecumseh Historical Museum is open Saturdays from 10:30 a.m. until 3:30 p.m., while the Brookside Cemetery provides an interesting walk through history.

The annual Clinton Fall Festival, September 28-29, offers added entertainment for passengers before or after their trip. Downtown streets will be lined with arts and crafts, entertainment stages, demonstrations of lost arts, displays from local schools, a used book sale and a one-hour long grand parade on Sunday afternoon. A car show, softball tournament, carnival and rodeo are also planned.

On October weekends (Saturdays and Sundays), 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 October 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, donuts and more, just four miles south of town.

For excursion dates, times and tickets, visit SouthernMichiganRailroad.com.