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The line was originally part of the Air Line from Richmond to Jackson, which soon came under control of Grand Trunk Western; east of Pontiac was the Romeo Subdivision and west of Pontiac the Jackson Subdivision. The Romeo Subdivision ended at the GTW Mt. Clemens Subdivision in Richmond, crossed and interchanged with the MC Bay City Branch in Rochester, and crossed both the Belt Line and the Holly Subdivision in Pontiac (where it became the Jackson Subdivision). During the Penn Central bankruptcy, the Bay City Branch was abandoned, and the Romeo Subdivision no longer connected to any other railroads. In the mid-late 80s, the segment between the Belt Line and the Holly Subdivision was abandoned; access to the Romeo Subdivision was only possible now through the Belt Line. However, tight curvatures on the line limited train speed to 10mph, making the line undesirable as a Detroit bypass. As maintenance was deferred on the line (which by this time was seeing only one local a week), the entire line was limited to 10mph. Its last major use was for the storing of rail cars, which due to a rail strike in Canada could not be delivered across the border and GTW needed some place to put the excess cars. In 1998 CN/GTW abandoned and removed the line from Washington to Richmond, and in 1999 abandoned the rest, including the Belt Line.
I lived in Richmond as a child with my family and remember the GTW having a switch or branch in town crossing main street. I saw many long trains and I think the line followed Armada Rd I think for some reason it was called the Armada Branch. Richmond saw lots of trains as I recall. This past summer, 2013 I returned to Richmond to visit my grandma and uncles grave at the catholic cemetery, I noticed the branch line is now a trail, tracks are gone.
This line actually was part of the original Michigan Air Line that ran from Three Rivers across the state through Jackson and Pontiac to Richmond.
The Michigan Air Line, though issues with ownership early on was split between owners at Jackson. The line SW of Jackson would become a NYC property while the GT gained control of the line from Richmond to Pontiac and Jackson.
The Jackson - Pontiac was removed in pieces from the 1970's to 2009 or so. The Romeo subdivision was removed despite the very good possibility of it being profitable. GT wanted so much money for the line that nobody could buy it as a shortline. It still had customers and potential customers available had it not been removed. I know one person who had publically stated they could have a business locate on the line pulling in 20-30 or more carloads per day, but GT said no and the line is history.
This line is now a rail to trail. The trail is called the Macomb Orchard Trail and follows the old railroad subdivision line from Richmond (starts at 32 Mile/Division Road at Main through to Rochester).