Sunday, December 21, 2008

Route of 1919 Trip - Homeward Bound Day 1

They stayed several days in the Soo. I have tried to find out from the Shanes more about Helen at that time and whether Tracy was around but I don't get replies to my Emails. Henry said: "One day we picnicked on Whitefish Bay some fifteen mile southwest of Sault Ste. Marie." The 1921 map shows the road going no farther than Brimley which is not exactly on Whitefish Bay but enjoys a great view out to Lake Superior.
Henry said: "We left the Soo early one morning to catch the ferry. Our parents had decided to return by way of the East Michigan Pike along the Lake Huron Shore, so we headed for Cheboygan". They wouldn't spend much time along the lakeshore. Henry goes on: "Not far from town we came upon a two-tracks-in-the-sand road like the one on the Mackinaw trail. This one continued for thirty miles". On this stretch they went through a forest fire, a chunk of virgin forest, and a frog-strangling rain storm and faced a decision at a three-way fork in the trail. Henry recounts: "Dad and I got out to figure out which one to take. For the first time, we had a real fear of being lost. We had seen our last house a few miles out of Cheboygan and, incredibly, not a single car". They chose one of the two most-traveled forks by guess and luckily they finally saw some houses and ended up in "...the tiny Hamlet of Hillman". So here is the problem I face in figuring out how to trace their 1919 trail on today's roads: Start at Cheboygan and end up a Hillman without going through any towns or even crossroads settlements or farming communities where there would have been houses in 1919. As usual, the 1921 map provides guidance. It shows that there were various possible ways to get from Cheboygan to Hillman but the criteria of no houses eliminates those routes that go through Onaway or Millersburg for instance. I used Google Maps to help me follow their trail on today's roads. After leaving the bridge take US 23 to and through Cheboygan. (Mill Creek State Park is a very worthwhile stop on the way) Shortly east of Cheboygan US 23 angles to the northeast. By going straight ahead instead the road becomes Alpena State Road. Follow winding Alpena Stae Road to the southeast and as it crosses Black Mountain Road it becomes Town Hall Highway. (At that point you are just a few miles from Karen and Ken's cottage on Black Lake) Town Hall Highway continues southeast about 3 miles then turns straight east. About 3 1/2 miles farther is an intersection with Ocqueoc Lake Road. Turn right and go southeast for  a couple of miles to a three-way intersection with North Ocqueoc Road and Cheboygan Plains Highway. Take Cheboygan Plains Highway east and southeast until it ends at Spens Road then go east a mile on Section 8 Highway, south a mile on North Curtis Road, then southeast on North Angle Road a little over two miles to M 68 (Moltke). According to the 1921 map, that was the end of the road. The no-road gap ends at Royston which is 17 map miles south of M 68 and 6 miles north of Hillman. That 1921 no-road gap accounts for more than half of Henry's 30 miles of "two tracks in the sand". I am assuming that those 1919 30 miles were measured by the National's odometer but perhaps they were his estimate. I also assume they were about at Royston when someone shouted "a house!". If I were a few decades younger and still had my Jeep I am sure I could find my way south beyond M 68 but it would still involve some two tracks so I will lay out an easy-to-follow paved route to Royston and Hillman. Take M 68 east to Rogers City then south on F 21/ County 451 through Hawks and all the way to Hillman. Henry said: "The twenty-four miles from Hillman to Alpena over a graded gravel road seemed like a trip down a boulevard. I had felt more tired from keeping the car in the tracks as we twisted and turned, dodging trees and stumps, with only brief stops than on any other stretch of the trip". They stayed in Alpena that night. (emailed June 22, 2008)

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