Tecumseh, MI to Milanta, OH

The Tecumseh Branch

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Looking north on the abandoned bridge over the Maumee River in Napoleon, OH. Photo by Aaron M., June 2010.

This abandoned railway began as part of the Detroit and Lima Northern Railway in 1895, which was built to connect Lima and Toledo, OH, to Detroit, MI. In 1901, it merged with the Ohio Southern Railroad (with roots to 1874) to become the Detroit Southern. The company went bankrupt in 1903, and was reorganized as the Detroit, Toledo and Ironton Railway (DT&I), later Railroad, after another bankruptcy. The company almost went bankrupt again, in 1920, until Henry Ford purchased the railroad.

During Ford's ownership of the DT&I, the company turned around financially, and constructed the Milanta Cutoff in 1925, providing a 55-mile bypass around the cities of Wauseon and Napoleon. The original alignment became the Tecumseh Branch. In 1929, Ford sold the DT&I to the Pennsylvania Railroad (PRR); the PRR merged with the New York Central to become the Penn Central, under which the line was abandoned in two parts, with final abandonment coming in 1978.

Thanks to Aaron M. for contributing information about this route.

There is a set of bridges across the Maumee River in Napoleon, Ohio from a spur line that served (I think) the Campbells soup plant there from the main line.

John Thompson
Elyria, OH
8/14/2010

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That's Malinta, not Milanta, Ohio. Just thought you'd like to know.

Also, the DT&I bridge pictured is at Napoleon, Ohio, and it does (or, actually, did) serve Campbell's Soup, but not as a spur; the track continued on through the Campbell's factory area and went on to just north of Malinta, Ohio, where it merged with the 1925 constructed branch of the DT&I.

Rob Shaver
Bryan, OH
1/21/2011

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I think the information on the abandonment in Napoleon is incorrect. The last trains to Campbell's Soup were in the 1980's rather than the entire line being abandoned in 1978. DT&I abandoned the line from Lear to the Ohio St Line in 1978. From what I can find this 1978 abandonment only went as far south as Napoleon, Oh. Malinta to Napoleon remained in service until the early 1980's when GTW had assumed operations of the DT&I. They cut the service to Campbell's which had been at times 25-50 outbound cars per day, plus inbound tin, paper and food products. The loss of service forced Campbell's Soup to begin using trucks and they switched to trucks, leading to the line being pulled from Malinta to Napoleon in the early-mid 1980's.

Unfortunately GTW/GT was known for not trying hard with non-mainline point to point service. Around the same time many other GT lines were pulled from service /sold off.

The lines west of Durand, Mi and North of Durand were sold off to the Central Michigan. West of Owosso to Ionia was pulled a few years later and the remaining lines are now owned by shortlines or pulled up. The lines north of Durand and still in operation, now by the Huron and Eastern railroad of the G&W family. Other lines were pulled up by GT because they did not meet the incredibly high traffic volume requirements even though they could have been profitable for short lines.

Jim Chapman
Pinckney, MI
11/9/2015

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