12 September 2007

the Old Michigan Road

Old Michigan Road through a downtown district

Trivia: what was the very first state commissioned road? Did you know that the Michigan Road did not go to Michigan, but to Lake Michigan at Michigan City? Did you know that the road was originally intended to head directly north from Logansport but to avoid the Kankakee marsh, it went to Rochester north to South Bend, then west? Did you know that in portions of the state, land for the Michigan Road was purchased in huge chunks from Native Americans, but in the northern part of the state, it was only a 100' swath of ground?

The Michigan Road was probably one of if not the most important transportation routes in the fledgling State of Indiana. Being the first commissioned road by the Indiana State Legislature in 1826; the Michigan Road became a key thoroughfare in opening up the state to settlement. It connected Madison on the Ohio River to Michigan City on Lake Michigan via the new state capitol. It was used by the pioneer and as a path for freedom for the runaway slave; it was the trail down which the Native American was removed from their lands.

Fortunately, much of the road and its roadside architecture still exist from those early days; however, very little has been written about the road and thorough research has not been completed. It's time to understand, document and celebrate this important part of our Hoosier Heritage. The Michigan Road winds its way through fifteen counties and more than two dozen communities. It connects the north with the south and touches all of the topography we recognize as home in Indiana. What better way to honor our State's upcoming bicentennial than to designate this state treasure a Hoosier Heritage Trail. Let the road tell the history of our State through its geography, its people, and its architecture. Through our forests, small towns, cities and farms this one road has the ability to showcase what it means to be a Hoosier and how our State was built.

Counties through which the Michigan Road passes
LaPorte, St. Joseph, Marshall, Fulton, Cass, Carroll, Clinton, Boone, Hamilton, Marion, Shelby, Rush, Decatur, Ripley, & Jefferson

Cities & towns through which the Michigan Road passes:
Michigan City, New Carlisle, South Bend, Lakeville, LaPaz, Plymouth, Argos, Rochester, Fulton, Logansport, Burlington, Michigantown, Kirklin, Indianapolis, Shelbyville, Middleton, St. Omer, Greensburg, Slabtown, Smyma, Napolean, Dabney, New Marion, Bryantsburg, & Madison

2 comments:

Brandon said...

I thought the Michigan Road was 421. Most of the northern towns it passes through sound like US 31.

hoosier reborn said...

Mostly 421 in southern Indiana, and just north of Indy. Then 29 to Logansport, 25 to Rochester, then old 31 to South Bend, then 20 to Michigan City.

I have a link on my blog to a Michigan Road site that is hosted by a fella I'm working with to get historic byway status for the road.