The Erie & Kalamazoo Railroad was the first railroad operated west of the Allegheny Mountains. It was authorized by the territorial government of Michigan in 1832 and operated until 1956. A Michigan historical marker, near the tracks at North Main Street in Blissfield, honors the memory of the railroad.
Blissfield was a stop on the rail line, and the Erie and Kalamazoo Railroad helped bring visitors and prosperity to the area. It extended from the mouth of the Kalamazoo River at Lake Michigan to Port Lawrence, which is now Toledo. The first trip between Adrian and Port Lawrence was made on November 2, 1836. Horse-drawn passenger and freight cars were used initially, with the first steam engine beginning service in 1837.
The railroad system became part of the Michigan Southern Railroad, which interconnected with rail lines in other states and enabled passengers to travel between Chicago and the East Coast. The Erie & Kalamazoo Railroad, nicknamed the "The Old Road", provided service until November 1956.
The Old Road Dinner Train
continues the elegance of railroad travel in the Blissfield area. The Old Road Dinner Train is the longest continuously operating dinner train in North America. It provides fine dining and a bit of mystery during trips that use vintage train cars from the 1930s, 1940s, and 1950s. Trips leave from the Blissfield East Train Depot on US-223, which is across the street from Blissfield's village offices.
On a smaller scale, the Blissfield Model Railroad Club
actively builds and operates a large HO scale model railroad that has over 1,500 feet of mainline track. The group includes members from Southeast Michigan and Northern Ohio and welcomes other model train enthusiasts to participate.
Beyond its railroad heritage, Blissfield has many other things to offer, including nice parks, antique stores, the River Raisin, and much more.
is a scenic recreation area on the south side of Adrian Street/US-223. A large skate park with several challenging ramps is at the front of the park. Other recreation facilities include two ball diamonds, basketball courts, shuffleboard courts, volleyball courts, and an outdoor swimming pool. The park has two picnic shelters for small gatherings and several pieces of playground equipment.
Clara Bachmayer Park
is connected to Ellis Park by a large pedestrian bridge. Lawrence Ricker Pavilion is located a short distance from the bridge, and there are several other picnic shelters available for family gatherings. The park provides nice views of the River Raisin, and its large playscape is a favorite with kids.
Bachmayer Little League Park
has a well-maintained baseball diamond with bleachers along the first and third base lines. A large modern playscape offers plenty of fun for kids on the south side of the park.
OW Farver Memorial Park
has a baseball diamond, which is accessible from a drive off Sugar Street.
The Blissfield Garden Club maintains a flower garden
in a walkway on the east side of Lane Street. Several beautiful perennials are in bloom in the flower beds during the summer.
Canoeing and Kayaking
The River Raisin meanders between Ellis Park and Clara Bachmayer Park. A boat ramp on the east side of the river at Ellis Park can be used to launch canoes or kayaks. There is parking nearby.
On the River Raisin, you will paddle under historic bridges in Blissfield and past wooded shoreline and farmland outside of town.
Cyclists can ride along the far edge of the outside lane on Adrian Street/US-223. The route passes Ellis Park, Hathaway House, the Depot Museum and other historic locations. Traffic can be heavy at times along Adrian Street/US-223, so obey traffic laws and ride with caution.
You can ride from Blissfield to Palmyra, using the wide paved shoulder along US-223. It's approximately three miles to Palmyra. The road shoulder is approximately four feet wide in most spots and begins near Coach Light Plaza and continues to Palymra. You'll ride past several farms on the way to Palymra, and when you get near town, you'll see an old steel watertower. The traffic volume on US-223 can be heavy at times, so use caution and stay alert when riding next to the road or on the shoulder.
Before you go, it's a good idea to check the
State of Michigan's construction database
to make sure there will not be any construction on the road that can interfere with your ride.
Walking and Jogging Route
Using the sidewalks along the south side of Adrian Street/US-223 and on Lane Street, you can walk or jog past several historic spots, restaurants and businesses. It's over 1.25 miles from Blissfield Health Center on US-223 to the library on Lane Street. To cross the River Raisin, you will use a pedestrian bridge near Ellis Park. You can also see locations from Blissfield's past, such as the Carpenter House and First Presbyterian Church, on the north side of the road using the sidewalk.
Blissfield Area Historical Society's Depot Museum is located in an old train depot that was built in 1875. The building was originally located in Deerfield and used by the Lake Shore and Michigan Southern Railroad. It was moved to Blissfield and restored by the Blissfield Historical Society. The Depot Museum features many items related to Blissfield's past.
The building is also home to the Blissfield Area Chamber of Commerce.
Blissfield has several Michigan Historic Sites, locations that are considered significant by the Michigan Historical Commission:
- Hervey Bliss House -
The village of Blissfield is named after Hervey Bliss, who was the first settler in the area. The family's third house in Blissfield was built in 1829 and is located at 313 North Monroe Street. The Greek Revival-influenced home was added to the list of Michigan Historic Sites on February 23, 1981.
- Blissfield Hotel - Not long after the Erie & Kalamazoo Railroad began service, a log tavern was built on Lane Street in 1839. It was conveniently located near the railroad tracks and served thirsty visitors. In 1875, William Drew replaced the tavern with a three-story hotel, named Drew's Hotel. The building was later named Blissfield Hotel and now hosts Victorian Garden, an antique/collectibles shop.
- Carpenter House - David Carpenter opened a dry goods store in Blissfield in 1838 and became a wealthy farmer and merchant. In 1851, he built a Greek Revival mansion along Adrian Street. The building is now
Hathaway House Fine Food & Spirits.
- Hiram D. Ellis House - The brick house was built on the south side of Adrian Street in 1883. Hiram D. Ellis was a banker in Blissfield, who earlier operated a grocery and hardware store in town with F.G. Beagle. During his time in Blissfield, Ellis also served as postmaster and township supervisor. The building is now the
H.D. Ellis Inn Bed & Breakfast.
- Erie & Kalamazoo Railroad - Just down from Hathaway House Fine Food & Spirits on North Main Street, there is a marker near the railroad tracks that describes the history of the railroad.
- First Presbyterian Church - The First Presbyterian Church of Blissfield was formally organized in February of 1829, at the home of Hervey Bliss. Around 1834, the congregation began meeting in a schoolhouse in Blissfield. In 1849, the church was completed, at a cost of approximately $2,800. The church bell was installed in 1867 and is still used today.
Reverend John Monteith, a graduate of the Princeton Seminary, preached at First Presbyterian Church from 1845-55. Monteith came to Michigan in 1816 and served as the University of Michigan's first president in 1817.
More About Blissfield
In early July, the Blissfield River Raisin Festival
offers several days of family fun. The event features live entertainment, a carnival, a car and bike show, food, tractor pulls, and much more.
In late August, the Blissfield Bluegrass on the River Jamboree
brings several professional and amateur acts to Ellis Park for a day of music, arts, food and fun. The event is free, and you are welcome to bring a blanket or lawn chairs to the park for the event.
In September, local artists use chalk to transform the pavement on Lane Street into works of art during Art at Your Feet.
Blissfield is a shopping destination for antique hunters. From rustic to rare, you can find lots of antiques, vintage items and collectibles in the shops near the intersection of Adrian Street/US-223 and Lane Street, including Blissfield Antique Mall, Blissfield General Store, Shar's Vintage Finds, The Place, and Victorian Garden.
For groceries and other necessities, Borchardt Brothers' Market and Family Dollar are located on the west side of town. Dollar General is on Adrian Street/US-223, near McDonald's.
There are several restaurants located along Adrian Street/US-223. Becky's Kountry Kitchen
is known for homemade food, with handcrafted jams, jellies and bread. Hathaway House Fine Food & Spirits
features elegant dining in a historic location. The Main Street Stable & Tavern
is behind the Hathaway House on Main Street and offers soups, sandwiches, salads, and complete dinners. Frosty Boy is a great spot to get ice cream in the summer. Other restaurants in Blissfield include Bearclaw Coffee, McDonald's, and Subway.
For lodging, H.D. Ellis Inn Bed & Breakfast
Blissfield Bed & Breakfast
are located on Adrian Street/US-223.