Sunday, December 21, 2008

Route of 1919 Pratt Family Trip - Day 2

Henry didn't say anything about when they got going from Cadillac the second day but he did remark that from Cadillac on they could see columns of smoke from fires. US 131 north of Cadillac through Manton almost to Walton is still shown on county maps as the Mackinaw Trail. The Pratt route follows US 131 as far as Fife Lake then leaves to go 3 1/2 miles north on Boardman River Road, 3 miles east on Larson Road, then 1 mile north on Hudson Road, then east through South Boardman on Boardman Road  to Lodi. From Lodi the route goes straight north to Kalkaska on M 66. The route the Pratts took north of Kalkaska zigzagged on country roads north and east to Westwood near the Kalkaska-Antrim county line and then angled northeast to Mancelona. Following US 131 from Kalkaska to Mancelona will take you through exactly the same territory without ever being more than about a mile away from their actual route. US 131 from Mancelona northeasterly to and through Alba is desginated as Mackinaw Trail Road. About this territory Henry said: "Somewhere north of Kalkaska and south of Boyne Falls, we entered an eight-mile stretch of highway that was unimproved in the total sense. It consisted of two tracks in the sand that wound back and forth to avoid trees and stumps." He also said:"The fact that the route closely followed the Grand Rapids and Indiana Railroad tracks most of the way...was a great help. Often when we thought we might be off the route, the sudden appearance of a pair of steel rails to the right or left put us at ease." Referring to his words and the 1921 road map it appears to me that the 8-mile unimproved stretch started 3 or 4 miles northeast of Mancelona. US 131 follows alongside the railroad until about 5 miles south of the Charlevoix County line where it turns  north and leads to Boyne Falls. In Charlevoix County US 131 is called Old Mackinaw Trail. US 131 between Boyne Falls and Petoskey follows about the same route as shown on the 1921 map. To make a long story short, following US 131 from Kalkaska to Petoskey will trace the Pratt's 1919 route very closely, even the roadless 8-mile stump-dodging stretch of two-track. Henry said of this day: "Progress was slower the second day. On some roads our speed was no more than fifteen miles per hour. Detours added both distance and time.  When we reached Petoskey the second evening, the mileage was under 140. It had taken as long to drive that as it had to drive 200 miles the first day." 
(emailed June 2008)

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