History, Road Trips

A historic byway

For more about the Michigan Road Historic Byway project, see www.historicmichiganroad.org.

In case you hadn’t noticed, the Michigan Road has been coming out of my ears during the past 12 months. I made my first excursion along the road last February, and then during 2008’s warm months drove it end to end, photographing everything I found interesting along the way. My trips spawned not only 15 posts about the road to this blog, but also an exhaustive, county-by-county photo essay of my trips that includes some historical information about the road and the places on it.

One-lane alignmentI want to see the Michigan Road remembered and celebrated for its important place in Indiana’s history. It turns out I’m not alone. Blogger Hoosier Reborn has harbored similar sentiments for years. It was serendipity that he and I encountered each other, and we have since encouraged each other toward achieving some sort of recognition for the road.

Michigan Road, Decatur County, IndianaIt helps tremendously that Hoosier Reborn has spent his career in historic preservation. He has good experience with just these kinds of projects. He also has contacts in historic preservation, economic development, and tourism throughout northern Indiana, people with influence who can help make things happen. He brought these assets to bear on Saturday in Rochester where he organized a first meeting for people interested in seeing the Michgan Road named a state historic byway.

Michigan Road at I-465So far, our coalition draws from Michigan Road counties in northern Indiana. To win historic byway status, we need backing from communities all along the Michigan Road. We’ll leverage the contacts we have now to build relationships with similarly interested people in all of the road’s counties. We plan to have built this statewide group in time to submit the historic byway application in the summer of 2010. A strong statewide organization will give the application enough mass and momentum, we think, to secure Indiana Department of Transportation approval.

We plan to use the historic byway designation as a springboard for future work to honor and preserve the road and to encourage tourism and economic development along it. We’d like to start by using it to win grant funding to have Michigan Road Historic Byway signs installed all along the route. Hard telling what we might do after that, but as Hoosier Reborn remarked to me on Saturday, “We’ll be old men and still be working on Michigan Road projects.” Sounds good to me!

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8 thoughts on “A historic byway

  1. Lone Primate says:

    Something about that bottom shot seemed familiar… I guess it only SEEMED familiar, but it made me think of your post about peeling back the layers of time. It turns out that was the Michigan Road too! Is the whole thing still a going concern, or is it all bits and pieces like Route 66 is these days?

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  2. LP, you can drive the Michigan Road from end to end today. There are a few detours from the original route thanks to progress, but they’re brief and seamless. The worst two detours involve a few miles where I-74 was built over the road and a railroad crossing that was removed. The road has been preserved as well as it has because, except for the I-74 portion, other Indiana corridors became more important to national transportation, and because the Michigan Road remained a key way to move between the communities along the road.

    The bottom shot is from less than a mile north of the intersection from “Peeling back the layers of time.” It’s from where the Michigan Road crosses I-465 on Indy’s Northwestside.

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  3. Ryan says:

    Jim, I wish both of you the best of luck in your efforts to preserve and celebrate what is the Michigan Road. The enthusiasm you guys have for your state should defiantly be commended!

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  4. Bruce Monroe says:

    Do you have an organization? I don’t live in Indiana anymore, but I grew up on the Michigan Road, just north of Indianapolis immediately south of the historic farmhouse at 6358.

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