Sunday, December 21, 2008

Route of 1919 Pratt Family Trip

I have Emailed the entire Michigan History article (Nov-Dec 1985) in which Henry described the trip he and Wilmer and Abigail and Genevieve and Isadora took from Watervliet to the Soo and back to visit Helen. I now want to work out their route so that any one of us could follow it using today's road and highway designations. Not all of the roads and trails they followed evolved into county, state or US roads or highways. Where this proves to be the case I will use his descriptions and topographic maps to try and figure out just where they traveled. Henry said "Maps that were of any use to the motorist were almost nonexistent". Shortly after their trip the State started numbering roads. I have found on the internet an excellent 1921 Rand-McNally road map for the entire state which is proving to be very helpful. It shows the roads and highways as they existed only three years after the family made the trip  Staring at it and reading Henry's words gives me the feeling that I'm traveling right along with them and of course I have the advantage of looking at the photographs that accompany the article..
FIRST NORTHBOUND DAY: They intended to take the Mackinaw Trail to the Straits. The Mackinaw (also Mackinac) Trail started at the Indiana State Line and passed through Kalamazoo, Grand Rapids, Cadillac and Petosky on its way to Mackinaw City. Henry said "Starting at 6:00 AM we zigzagged across Van Buren and Allegan Counties". That means they had to have hit the Mackinaw Trail somewhere north of Kalamazoo. Working out a route that avoids Kalamazoo County on roads that show on the 1921 map and is reasonably direct takes me from Watervliet to just north of Covert via M140, then easterly to Bangor and Gobles, then northerly to Allegan and east to A45 (Old 131) at Martin. Then we go north to Wayland after which Old 131 becomes Division Avenue which continues north to downtown Grand Rapids. Next get to Plainfield Avenue (both Division and Plainfield are designated  BR 131) and exit Grand Rapids to the northeast crossing the Grand River then follow Northland Avenue through Rockford and Cedar Springs to Sand Lake. In Moncalm County Old 131 is shown on the county map as White Pine State Park Trail as it leaves Sand Lake and passes through Howard City to the Mecosta County Line. In the DeLorme Atlas it is shown as Federal Road. In Mecosta County where Old 31 passes through Big Rapids it is called Northland Drive. In Osceola County DeLorme calls it 210th Avenue or Reed Road as far as Reed City. North out of Reed City the Pratt's route follows Mackinaw Trail through Ashton, LeRoy and Tustin to  Cadillac. This is the only stretch of road so far where the orignal Mackinaw Trail desination is preserved.
Henry's words: "We reached Cadillac at 6:00 PM, twelve hours and two hundred miles after leaving home, and checked in at the Hotel Cadillac." I wonder if they had to use a bathroom down the hall or chamber pots. My Dad called them "Thunder Mugs".
NEXT: On to Petosky

(emailed June 2008)

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