M-38 (Michigan highway)

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M-38 marker

M-38 highlighted in red
Route information
Maintained by MDOT
Length: 42.225 mi[3] (67.955 km)
Existed: 1968[1][2] – present
Lake Superior Circle Tour
Major junctions
West end: US 45 / M‑64 in Ontonagon
  M‑26 in Greenland
East end: US 41 in Baraga
Counties: Ontonagon, Houghton, Baraga
Highway system
M‑37 M‑39

M-38 is an east–west state trunkline highway in the Upper Peninsula (UP) of the U.S. state of Michigan. Its west end starts in Ontonagon and runs east to Baraga, some 42.225 miles (67.955 km) apart. The highway crosses streams and rivers in forest lands and provides access to a casino. The east end is located by the Keweenaw Bay of Lake Superior in the Keweenaw Bay Indian Community.

There have been two highways in the state to carry the designation. The first was located in the southeastern Lower Peninsula. The current version of M-38 was created from a section of M-35 in the 1960s. This section was orphaned from the rest of M-35 when the highway was cancelled through the Huron Mountains.

Route description[edit]

M-38 begins at a four-way intersection in Ontonagon. US Highway 45 (US 45) runs north–south through this intersection while M-64 runs west and M-38 runs east on Steel Street. This intersection is both the eastern terminus of M-64 and the western terminus of M-38. From here, M-38 forms a segment of the Lake Superior Circle Tour along Ontonagon–Greenland Road to a junction with M-26 near Greenland. The roadway runs through forest land and crosses several small streams while traveling southeasterly. Outside of Greenland, M-38 curves to the north around town after intersecting Plank Road. On the east side of town, M-26 and M-38 meet and join in a concurrency after Ontonagon–Greenland Road meets Plank Road a second time. The two highways run together for just over a mile to the unincorporated community of Lake Mine. There, M-38 turns south through the community while M-26 turns off to the northeast.[4]

The highway crosses a set of railroad tracks before turning east. At Post Office Road, M-38 meets a road named Old M-35 Road, a vestige of a highway straightening project during the time the highway was M-35. M-38 crosses the West Branch of the Firesteel River in hilly terrain through this area.[5] The highway continues east and provides access to the Courtney Lake National Forest Campground west of the Houghton County line. East of Federal Forest Highway 16 (FFH-16) near Nisula, M-38 crosses the West Branch of the Otter River. It is along this section of roadway in Houghton County that the lowest annual average daily traffic (AADT) counts were measured by the Michigan Department of Transportation (MDOT) in 2007. An average of 680 vehicles traveled on the roadway, according to MDOT surveys.[6] Of those vehicles, only 40 trucks on average were included in the traffic counts.[7] East of Nisula, the roadway runs parallel to Mill Creek. Mill Creek flows into the West Branch of the Sturgeon River near the Baraga County line.[4]

East of the county line is the crossing over the Sturgeon River south of Pelkie, home of the Baraga County Fairgrounds.[4][8] The trunkline crosses more hilly terrain while veering to the northeast. Continuing to the east, M-38 had its highest traffic usage in 2007. The AADT for the Baraga County segment of the highway was measured at 3,000 vehicles a day.[6] The roadway continues east through Baraga County and runs downhill approaching Baraga and the Keweenaw Bay Indian Community, home of the first Native American casino in the United States.[9] After passing through downtown Baraga on Michigan Avenue, M-38 ends at an intersection with US 41; on the western shore of Keweenaw Bay.[4]


Previous designation[edit]

The first version of M-38 was designated in 1919 in the Lower Peninsula. It was located on Junction Road from M-10 (later US 10/US 23) southeast of Bridgeport to Frankenmuth, and then ran east to M-19 in the Peck area in 1919.[10] The highway was transferred to county jurisdiction in late 1961 when the I-75/US 10/US 23 freeway was completed in the area.[11][12]

Current designation[edit]

Main article: M-35 § History

In 1968, the Michigan Department of Transportation redesignated the western section of M-35 as M-38.[1][2] M-35 was originally planned to start in Menominee and run north to Big Bay, turn west through the Huron Mountains in northern Marquette County and run west from Baraga to Ontonagon.[10] The Huron Mountains portion of M-35 was never built due to opposition from Henry Ford and the Huron Mountain Club. This left M-35 discontinuous.[13] It was later routed along US 41 from Negaunee to Baraga, connecting the two sections until the western section was given the M-38 designation.[1][14]

The original routing of M-38 in the Upper Peninsula ran from M-26 at Greenland to Baraga.[2] US 45 was rerouted in 1971 along M-26 from Rockland to Greenland and Ontonagon–Greenland Road between those two towns. M-26 was shortened to end at the new US 45 in Greenland.[15] This change to US 45 was reversed in 1973. M-26 was reextended to Rockland, and M-38 was extended along M-26 to Ontonagon–Greenland Road to meet US 45 in Ontonagon.[16]

On October 11, 2006, the western terminus of M-38 was relocated about .25 miles (0.40 km) south to end at a junction with US 45 and the newly realigned M-64.[17]

Major intersections[edit]

County Location Mile[3] km Destinations Notes
Ontonagon Ontonagon 0.000 0.000 US 45 – Bruce Crossing, Watersmeet
M‑64 south / LSCT west – Silver City
West end of LSCT concurrency
Greenland 13.305 21.412 M‑26 west – Rockland Western end of M-26 concurrency
14.438 23.236 M‑26 east / LSCT east – Houghton Eastern end of M-26 and LSCT concurrencies
Houghton Laird Township 21.611 34.780 FFH 16 Marked as H-16 on MDOT maps
Baraga Baraga 42.225 67.955 US 41 / LSCT – Houghton, L'Anse, Marquette
1.000 mi = 1.609 km; 1.000 km = 0.621 mi

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c Michigan Department of State Highways (1968). Official Highway Map (Map). Scale not given. Cartography by MDSH. Section B3.
  2. ^ a b c Michigan Department of State Highways (1969). Official Highway Map (Map). 1 in:14.5 mi. Cartography by H.M. Gousha. Section B3.
  3. ^ a b Michigan Department of Transportation (2009). MDOT Physical Reference Finder Application (Map). Cartography by Michigan Center for Geographic Information. http://www.mcgi.state.mi.us/prfinder/. Retrieved April 10, 2010.
  4. ^ a b c d Google, Inc. "Overview Map of M-38". Google Maps (Map). Cartography by Google, Inc. http://maps.google.com/maps?saddr=US-45+%26+M-38,+Ontonagon,+MI+49953&geocode=&dirflg=&daddr=US-41+%26+M-38,+Baraga,+MI&f=d&sll=46.866772,-89.313784&sspn=0.00933,0.014505&ie=UTF8&z=10. Retrieved October 8, 2008.
  5. ^ Google, Inc. "Old M-35 Road". Google Maps (Map). Cartography by Google, Inc. http://maps.google.com/maps?saddr=US-45+%26+M-38,+Ontonagon,+MI+49953&geocode=&dirflg=&daddr=US-41+%26+M-38,+Baraga,+MI&f=d&sll=46.866772,-89.313784&sspn=0.00933,0.014505&ie=UTF8&ll=46.771879,-89.013505&spn=0.018694,0.029011&t=p&z=15. Retrieved October 8 ,2008.
  6. ^ a b Michigan Department of Transportation (2007) (PDF). Statewide AADT Map (Map). Scale not given. Cartography by MDOT. http://www.michigan.gov/documents/adtfront_20092_7.pdf. Retrieved October 7, 2008.
  7. ^ Michigan Department of Transportation (2007) (PDF). Commercial Statewide AADT Map (Map). Scale not given. Cartography by MDOT. http://www.michigan.gov/documents/cadtfront_19920_7.pdf. Retrieved October 7, 2008.
  8. ^ "Michigan 2008 State and County Fairs List" (PDF). Michigan Department of Agriculture. 2008. Retrieved October 8, 2008. 
  9. ^ Winchell, Dick G.; Lounsbury, John F. & Sommers, Lawrence M. (Winter 1997). "Indian Gaming in the U.S.: Distribution, Significance and Trends.". Focus 44. 
  10. ^ a b Michigan State Highway Department (July 1, 1919). State of Michigan: Lower Peninsula (Map). Scale not given. Cartography by MSHD.
  11. ^ Michigan State Highway Department (1961). Official Highway Map (Map). Scale not given. Cartography by MSHD. Section J12–J14. (Includes all changes through July 1, 1961)
  12. ^ Michigan State Highway Department (1962). Official Highway Map (Map). Scale not given. Cartography by MSDH. Section J12–J14.
  13. ^ Michigan State Highway Department (May 1, 1938). 1938 Official Michigan Highway Map (Map). Scale not given. Cartography by Rand McNally (Spring ed.). Section B3.
  14. ^ Michigan State Highway Department (April 15, 1953). 1953 Official Highway Map (Map). Scale not given. Cartography by MSDH. Section B3.
  15. ^ Michigan Department of State Highways (1970). Official Highway Map (Map). 1 in:14.5 mi. Cartography by MDSH. Section B3.
  16. ^ Michigan Department of State Highways (1971). Official Highway Map (Map). 1 in:14.5 mi. Cartography by MDOT. Section B3.
  17. ^ Lake, James (October 10, 2006). "New Ontonagon River Bridge to open Oct. 11" (Press release). Michigan Department of Transportation. Archived from the original on December 6, 2013. Retrieved October 8, 2008. 

External links[edit]

Route map: Google / Bing

  • M-38 at Michigan Highways
  • M-38 at Michigan Highway Ends