Sunday, December 21, 2008

Route of 1919 Pratt Family Trip - Day 3

Henry told about the West Michigan Pike Tour of automobile enthusiasts who stayed in Petoskey the night before they arrived and the news that the Tour had an encounter with a forest fire on its way to the Straits, then he said: "We left Petoskey early in the morning in order to catch the railroad ferry at Mackinaw."  The route to Mackinaw City led eastward and notheast to Alanson then headed north through Pellston and Levering to the northwest corner of Carp Lake (now called Lake Paradise). US 31 (no longer US 131) now follows this route closely. The 1921 map shows that the Pratts' route cannot be traced any farther north by US 31 which angles off northeast and joins I 75 on the way to the bridge. In those days they would have turned east through the town of Carp Lake and followed a road along the lake's north shore and then made a 90 degree left turn and gone straight north about 8 1/2 miles to the Ferry Docks. This road, which is the county line road between Emmet and Cheboygan Counties, runs all the way to the tip of the Lower Penensula. It is not named on any map I have found. They crossed the Straits on the Chief Wawatam. My family took that ride on the Chief  when we boys were young. The article in Michigan History has a photograph of Genevieve on the top deck of the Chief holding on to her hat and coat in the wind. (Google Chief Wawatam and see a good Wikipedia story and other articles). About beginning their travel in the Upper Peninsula Henry said: "The highway out of St.Ignace paralleled the shore of St. Martin Bay, then straightened out into an area of low ground that was covered, I believe, mostly by cedar trees. Here too, the road was mostly two tracks through the sand". The 1921 map shows the road leaving St. Ignace and following the shoreline of St. Martin Bay to the northernmost extent of the bay and then extending straight east for several miles. It then takes a short jog to the north and then east to a south to north road which I know coincides with Michigan's Principal Meridian (Google Michigan Meridian). It passes north through Pickford and ends at Sault Ste. Marie. The straight east stretch is now St. Ignace Road (M 134). The highway north to the Soo is M 129. The southern part is named Meridian Road. As it nears the Soo it jogs to the east and the back north and is called Dixie Highway. I speculate that the near confrontation between the Pratts in their 1915 National and the southbound West Michigan Pike Tour of Cadillacs, Packards etc took place somewhere south of Pickford. Henry said: "The road was strictly one lane, and we suddenly found ourselves on a collision course with the Pike Tour on its way back south. Trees close to the tracks prevented casual turning off the road. We saw them about a half mile away. Stepping on the gas, I desperately looked for a turn-out. One appeared, I got the car off, and we watched the tour go by." Then they finished the trip to Sault St. Marie to visit Helen. I presume they stayed in a hotel. (emailed June 2008)

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