Signing the historic Michigan Road
The Michigan Road is one of Indiana’s first highways, stretching from Madison on the Ohio River north to Michigan City on Lake Michigan. It was surveyed in 1829 and built during the 1830s. You can still drive it end to end today.
If you’ve followed my blog for a while you know I love the Michigan Road and worked hard with people in every county through which the road passes to get it named an Indiana Historic Byway. We achieved it in 2011, but that was only the beginning of our work. We believe that the Michigan Road can drive tourism to the many towns and cities along the route and be a real boon to their economies. We also want to honor this important road’s place in Indiana history and encourage preservation of the old buildings along the road. We also want to see the road itself protected against reroutings – for example, about five miles of it are buried under I-74 just southeast of Indianapolis.
An important step – the first step, we think – is to place signs along the route letting drivers find their way along the Michigan Road so they can explore it and take in all it has to offer. This is the sign we will use.
The Indiana silhouette and torch from our state’s flag emphasize that this road connects the entire state. We added M and R to the torch because in the 1910s, when the Michigan Road became an early auto trail, it was marked with signs reading simply MR.
Our sign is predominately blue after our state’s flag, too. Unfortunately, the Indiana Department of Transportation vetoed the flag’s actual shade of blue in favor of the shade you see, saying that this is INDOT’s standard blue.
We sent several sign iterations to INDOT before they finally approved this one. They wanted to be sure that the sign would be easily readable as people whiz by at 60 miles per hour! We needed INDOT’s approval because so much of the Michigan Road is state and U.S. highways that are under their control.
We thank Anita Werling, our graphic designer, for being patient and frequently tweaking the sign as it worked its way through INDOT approval. We also think Kado Downs for his graphic design work on the sign’s initial concept, which contributed the state, the torch, and the MR to the final sign.
Now we’re busy raising funds to pay for these signs. We’re turning primarily to organizations in each county through which the road passes – but if you want to buy a sign for us, send a check for $40 to the Historic Michigan Road Association at 12954 6th Road, Plymouth, IN 46563, and tell us which Michigan Road county you support with your gift!
Our goal is to see the whole route signed during 2013. Wish us luck; this is a very ambitious project!
For more about the Michigan Road and the Historic Michigan Road Association, see our Web site.