Quite a few people with mobility challenges ride the Southern Michigan Railroad.
The historic train and museum building involve stairs, and do not have wheelchair lifts. But many people ride anyway, often with a little help from their friends.
Everyone's abilities are different. We find it best to describe the obstacles so you can evaluate them yourself.
On our train cars
We can give you priority on the seats nearest the entrance - but it helps to arrive early and make the conductor aware of your need (to avoid having to "bump" people who may already be in those seats).
By law, our volunteers cannot "man-handle" people aboard, but companions may.
Once onboard the train, it is not possible to move around the train in a wheelchair. None of the interior passages or the inter-car connections are wide enough for wheelchairs. There are no bathrooms on the train.
Coach #1 has six fairly steep steps, with handrails on one side. At the present time, Coach #1 boards on the northwest door in Clinton (as in the photo above) and from the opposite end of the car in Tecumseh, making it necessary to move down the entire length of the car if you wish to disembark at the opposite station. You may also remain on the train.
The Memorial Caboose also has steep steps and only one handrail, but the deck is not as high. We are able to use steps on both sides on either end.
The open-air gondola requires crossing a shaky and uneven gantry to enter. It is usually boarded through Coach #1, so boarding it in Clinton requires a lengthy walk.
We have places onboard to stow a lightweight wheelchair which has been folded. It may not be near your seats nor accessible while the train is traveling. We absolutely do not handle large, heavy or power chairs on the train.
At our Clinton site and museum building
The Clinton boarding site (top photo) is the best place to load and unload, as you can pull an automobile right up to the train. The museum area is relatively quiet, and our volunteers often leave their power chairs without incident.
The Clinton museum is in a historic building which is not accessible. One of our organization's long-term goals is to make the building accessible.
For the museum and gift shop area, there is one curb and 6-7 steps without proper handrails.
For the downstairs bathrooms and member areas, there is a narrow all-concrete stairway with handrail requiring about a 100 foot detour, uneven pavement, and a small half-step entering the building. (there are also shortcuts which are uneven.) We do not have modern stalls in the bathroom, however the entire bathroom can be locked and used solo.
During Clinton's Fall Festival event, parking is a complete madhouse and you cannot count on parking within 1/2 mile of the train. If you want to attend the event, consider riding the train from Tecumseh, where parking is much easier and closer. The train drops you off within 3 blocks of the downtown and high-school area festivities. The Village operates golf cart shuttles around town, and we are a regular stop.
At the Tecumseh boarding site
Tecumseh is a town which lends itself to exploration, with many shops within a block of the train. So it's worth planning a train trip accordingly - either board in Tecumseh, or come prepared to disembark and lay over.
The Downtown Tecumseh location is challenging to park and unload at. The nearest place to unload an automobile is over 100 feet from the train. Parking (including handicap spots) are shared with other downtown Tecumseh businesses and we cannot guarantee their availability. There is parking within one block, except during festivals.
Boarding is from the sidewalk across about 3 feet of gravel and onto the train's steps. The sidewalk is too narrow to leave a chair behind; it will block the sidewalk for anyone else using a wheelchair.
During Tecumseh's Appleumpkin Festival, our downtown boarding location is literally in the middle of the festival. Parking is in high demand and the downtown parking lots are closed. However most people are able to park within 3-4 blocks of our boarding site. This event happens during our very popular Fall Color Tours, and is the most popular weekend. which our nonprofit absolutely depends on for annual revenue. Because of this, we do not foresee being able to run a shuttle service to the event; for capacity reasons you cannot ride the Color Tours "backwards" to use it as a shuttle.
At our events
The spring/summer trains are the best option, as they give you a variety of boarding and layover options. They are also the lowest price, generally.
The Clinton Fall Festival is a huge street festival in Clinton. Parking in-town is pandemonium and many people end up 3/4 mile away from our train or the town festivities. Our parking lot is parked up solid by festival goers. This one weekend we strongly recommend against trying to park and board in Clinton. However, if you can handle boarding in Tecumseh and disembarking in Clinton, we'll get you within 3 short blocks of all the action! Also, the Village runs "golf cart shuttles" and we are a stop.
Barriers for Fall Color Tours are the problems with the Tecumseh boarding location. Cider and donuts can be brought to your seat; ask one of our volunteers.
Barriers for the Santa trains are that kids see Santa in the non-accessible museum building. One upside to the Santa train is that the entire train ride runs before seeing Santa, so they only need to board and exit the train once.