Last Rail Line Torn Up

By dhowell - Posted on 02 March 2007

The last of two railroads through the village was torn up in April 1965. This completely isolated the community of rail service.

Ernest Fick, foreman of track retirement, had charge of taking up the rails on the New York Central lines from Hudson to Jackson and Osseo, and from Manchester to Clinton.

Lack of business was the reason given by NYC for removing the tracks. Some of the rails were marked 1917 as the year they were laid.

The route through Manchester was chartered in 1836 as the palmyra and Jacksonburg Railroad. It also went through Tecumseh and Clinton to Jackson. Later the line was acquired by the Lake Shore and Michigan Southern Railway and operated as the Jackson Branch of that road.

In the early days the route had only one station in Washtenaw County—in Manchester, which at that time was a flourishing village.

The Detroit, Hillsdale and Indiana Railroad was projectd shortly after the Civil War and completed through Washtenaw County in 1870. Its tracks were taken up in 1964 in Manchester. That route began in Ypsilanti and ran through Saline, Bridgewater and Manchester and on to Hillsdale.

There was a time in the early 1900s when trains were coming into or leaving Manchester every half hour. Some of the older women remember well the problems they had trying to dry clothes without having them covered with coal soot.

Among the early train crew of the New York Central was Herman Wurster (seated on engine).

Passenger service by train in Manchester was the envy of many communities in the area. In the early part of this century, it was possible to pack a bag and leave for almost any point within an hour. Manchester boasted two depots.

But the last year of service saw the trains coming into the village only two or three times a week. Fick said that in his forty years of taking up tracks, residents of Manchester were the only ones who bothered to stop and express regret in seeing the tracks being hauled away.