Saginaw Trail highlighted in red
|Maintained by MDOT with county road commissions and city governments|
|Length:||93.5 mi (150.5 km)|
|Existed:||December 7, 1818 – present|
|South end:||Woodward and Jefferson avenues in Detroit|
|North end:||Genesee and Michigan avenues in Saginaw|
|Counties:||Wayne, Oakland, Genesee, Saginaw|
Saginaw Trail is the collective name for a set of connected roads in Southeastern Michigan that runs from Detroit to Saginaw through Pontiac and Flint. It was originally a tribal foot trail. On December 7, 1818 the Michigan Territorial government authorized the building of a road from Detroit to Saginaw along the trail. The road has gone through a number of designation changes in the last two centuries, both in name and number. Since the Michigan portion of Interstate 75 (I-75) was completed in 1973, it has been a secondary route.
Today, drivers can follow the path of the Saginaw Trail starting with Woodward Avenue in Detroit north to Genesee Avenue in Saginaw. It is currently state-maintained as different sections of state trunkline highways bearing the designations M-1, US Highway 24 (US 24) and M-54. Other sections are maintained as county roads or city streets. Several landmarks can be found on these roads, and numerous historical events have taken place on them. The road has also been featured in some films and TV shows.
- 1 History
- 2 Route description
- 3 Major intersections
- 4 See also
- 5 References
- 6 External links
The original trail
Sauk Tribal foot path
The Sauk tribe may have had their original territory along the St. Lawrence River. However, migration patterns of other tribes drove them to Michigan around Saginaw Bay. Due to the yellow clay soils found around Saginaw Bay, their self-designation became Oθaakiiwaki which is often interpreted to mean "yellow-earth". The Ojibwe and Ottawa name for the tribe is Ozaagii, meaning "Those at the Outlet", whence they were known by the French as "Sac" or by the English as "Sauk". With the Anishinaabe expansion and Hurons attempts at gaining regional stability, the Sauks were driven away by the Hurons armed with French weapons. The Sauk then occupied territory in parts of what are now northern Illinois and Wisconsin.
The Sauk tribe created an unnamed foot trail from Detroit to Saginaw. When European settlers arrived, they too began using the trail, which they dubbed the Saginaw Trail. These settlers determined the government should modernize it for the use of their horses and carriages. The name Saginaw is believed to mean "where the Sauk were" in the Ojibwe language, which is used by the Chippewa tribe.
According to a historical marker near the John Almon Starr House in Royal Oak, the trail was one of peaceful intentions. Native inhabitants of the area used the trail to travel between homes during the change of seasons. They also used the trail to carry food and provisions. The trail may have played a role in the Siege of Fort Detroit by Chief Pontiac.
Government builds a road
The Michigan Territorial Legislature approved the building of the Saginaw Turnpike (also called the Detroit–Saginaw Turnpike) on December 7, 1818. Michigan Territory Governor Lewis Cass established by proclamation on December 15, 1819 the building of the section from Saginaw to Pontiac. The Legislature approved the request to build the southern half, from Pontiac to Detroit, on June 22, 1822. However, the Michigan government could not find the needed money in its budget to do so. Therefore, in 1826, the Michigan Territory asked for federal money to do so. After months of consideration, the federal government approved the request on March 2, 1827. The Detroit to Flint section was finished in 1833, and the Flint to Saginaw section was finished in 1841.
In 1848 and 1850, the Michigan government determined it was too expensive to maintain the road, and therefore turned it over to a private plank company who kept it up, in return for tolls to travel on it. Tolls on the road were regulated by the state legislature. A charge of two cents a mile was made for a wagon or carriage drawn by two horses, and one cent a mile for every sled or sleigh so drawn. If more than two horses were used, an additional charge of three-quarters of a cent per mile for each additional animal was levied. A toll of one cent per mile was made for a vehicle drawn by one horse, as well as for a horse and rider. Tolls of one-half cent a mile were levied for every score of sheep or swine; for every score of "neat cattle," two cents a mile. Sixty years later in 1910, the leases expired and the road was turned back over to state control, at which time all fees were lifted.
State controls the road again
In 1909, Woodward Avenue between Six Mile Road and Seven Mile Road became the first mile (1.6 km) of paved highway in the United States. In 1916, the 27-mile (43 km) portion of Woodward from Detroit to Pontiac was paved. The nation's first tri-colored traffic light was installed on Woodward in 1919. Portions of the trail were part of the Dixie Highway from 1915 to 1927. From 1919 to 1926, the trail was designated M-10.
Starting in 1926, when the U.S. Highway System was created, US 10 ran along the trail. The section between Downtown Flint and Saginaw also carried US 23. In 1928, the segment between Dort Highway's northern terminus and Dort Highway's former southern terminus was changed to M-10, which was the second incarnation of M-10. In 1941 or 1942, that designation of M-10 was changed to Business US 10 (BUS US 10). In 1957, US 23 was moved from the trail to its current route.
Several changes were made to the Saginaw Trail in 1962. US 10 and BUS US 10 were removed from I-75 exit 106 to Dort Highway's northern terminus. M-54 opened, running along Saginaw Street between I-75 exit 106, through Grand Blanc to Dort Highway's former southern terminus. Saginaw Street between Dort Highway's former southern terminus and northern terminus was renamed BUS M-54. The designation of US 10 between the former southern terminus of M-54 and Clarkston was moved to the new I-75 freeway.
In 1970, US 10 was moved between Pontiac and Detroit, and Woodward Avenue was redesignated as M-1. US 10 was routed along the Lodge Freeway and Telegraph Road. The BUS M-54 signs were removed in 1984 along Saginaw Street. US 10 was truncated in 1986, removing the designation from the highway system south of Bay City. The section of M-54 from Dort Highway's former southern terminus was rerouted along a new extension and M-54 no longer ran along Saginaw Street through Grand Blanc like it did previously, making its current southern terminus at I-75 exit 109 in 1987.
The original Saginaw Trail through Royal Oak is visible in places. Property adjacent to the John Almon Starr House, now the home of the law firm Chisholm and Shuttie, contains a section of the trail, sunken into the ground. The Starr house, located at 3123 Crooks Road, is approximately 1 mile (1.6 km) east of Woodward Avenue. The road was constructed along, but not always over, the original trail by order of the Michigan government. A Michigan Historical Marker for the Saginaw Trail is co-located with that of the John Almon Starr House.
The old Saginaw Trail is known as Woodward Avenue (M-1) in Wayne County. Woodward Avenue starts in Downtown Detroit at Jefferson Avenue near the Renaissance Center, the world headquarters of the General Motors Corporation. From this starting point, the street runs northwesterly through Downtown Detroit, passing through Campus Martius Park and Grand Circus Park. The north side of the latter park is on Adams Avenue, which marks the start of the M-1 designation and state maintenance. The historic Fox Theatre, which was built in 1928, is on Woodward Avenue, and next door to it is The Fillmore Detroit, a concert venue. Across the street is Comerica Park, home of the Detroit Tigers. Next to it is Ford Field, home of the Detroit Lions. Both sports venues are west of Woodward Avenue, between Adams and the I-75 freeway. Further north is the Detroit Institute of Arts.
Woodward Avenue continues northwesterly crossing through the campus of Wayne State University and the city of Highland Park before re-entering Detroit at McNichols Road, which occupies the 6 Mile location in the Mile Road System in Detroit. At 8 Mile Road, Woodward Avenue crosses out of Detroit for the final time near the State Fairgrounds into Ferndale and Oakland County.
Woodward Avenue in Detroit has been mentioned in popular culture several times, such as in the season-6 episode of the Detroit-based 1990s sitcom Home Improvement titled "My Son, the Driver". The character Brad mentions he was "rear-ended over on Woodward". Woodward is also known internationally for its annual "Woodward Dream Cruise" in which classic car enthusiasts showcase their vehicles.
Woodward Avenue continues north toward Pontiac. It passes through the suburbs of Ferndale, Royal Oak, Birmingham and Bloomfield Hills. Royal Oak is the location of the John Almon Starr House which is adjacent to the original trail. In Bloomfield Hills, the M-1 designation ends at Square Lake Road. Woodward Avenue continues north into downtown Pontiac as part of Business Loop I-75 (BL I-75) and BUS US 24. Through downtown, the highway splits along two streets of a one-way pair, using Woodward Avenue northbound and Wide Track Drive southbound. BL I-75 turns off along Perry Street, and BUS US 24 continues north along Oakland Avenue northbound and Cass Avenue southbound. The two streets merge along Oakland Avenue north of Montcalm Street. North of Kennett Road, the street name changes to Dixie Highway.
Dixie Highway was named as a part of the original auto trail of the same name. When the road meets Telegraph Road, it loses the BUS US 24 designation in favor of US 24. Dixie Highway, and the Saginaw Trail, pass a number of lakes north of Pontiac before meeting I-75 in Independence Township at exit 93. This is the eastern end of US 24, which runs 2,478 miles (3,988 km), all the way from Colorado Springs, Colorado. Dixie Highway continues northwesterly and parallels I-75, using roadway that was once US 10. The grounds for the annual Michigan Renaissance Festival, which is unofficially dubbed "Hollygrove" for the festival, are located on Dixie Highway in both Holly Township and Groveland Township. The festival grounds was the primary shooting location of the 2009 romantic comedy film All's Faire in Love. Mount Holly Ski Area is also located on Dixie Highway in Holly Township. Groveland Oaks County Park, which features a spiraling water-slide, is also on the roadway in Groveland Township. The Michigan State Police's Satellite Office 21 is located next to Dixie Highway in Groveland Township.
In Genesee County, it is known as Saginaw Street (while in the cities of Flint, Burton, Grand Blanc, and Mount Morris), or Saginaw Road (in all other jurisdictions), and it is divided into north and south halves by the Flint River. In Grand Blanc Township, Warwick Hills Golf and Country Club, former home of the PGA's Buick Open (which has now been discontinued) is on Saginaw Road. Also on Saginaw Road in Grand Blanc Township is a branch office of the 67th District Court and Grand Blanc Township's Administrative Offices. In southern Flint, on Saginaw Street between Atherton and Hemphill Roads, is the Fisher Body Plant #1, which is now the Great Lakes Technology Center. This plant was the site of the Flint Sit-Down Strike, a pivotal event in the development of the United Auto Workers.
In Downtown Flint several government buildings are on Saginaw Street, including the historic 1917 Genesee County Circuit Courthouse, Flint City Hall, the Genesee County Administration Building, the Genesee County Jail, the Genesee County Sheriff's Department headquarters, the headquarters of the 67th and 68th District Courts, and the Genesee County Health Department. The headquarters of Citizens Republic Bancorp which was founded as Citizens Commercial & Savings Bank in Flint in 1871 is on Saginaw Street in Downtown Flint, as is the historic First National Bank of Flint which was founded in 1864; the current building was constructed in 1924. Saginaw Street is also home to The Paterson Building. The structure owned by the Collison family sits at the corner of Saginaw and Third Street.
Another popular culture reference to the Saginaw Trail came In the 2008 movie Semi-Pro, which was filmed partially in Flint. The main character Jackie Moon, played by Will Ferrell, was shown driving on Saginaw Street at the Flint River bridge in Downtown Flint.
Continuing north through the county, in Mount Morris, a branch office of the 67th District Court is on Saginaw Street, as well as the Mount Morris City Administration Offices. Auto City Speedway is on Saginaw Road between Mount Morris and Clio. Between Dort Highway's northern terminus and Clio Road in Genesee County, Saginaw Road is part of M-54.
In Saginaw County, it is also known as Dixie Highway, except in the City of Saginaw, where it is known as Genesee Avenue. In this segment, the road mostly runs through farmlands and rural residential areas. The Michigan State Police has 2 offices on the trail in Saginaw County: Post 37 is on Dixie Highway in Bridgeport Township, and the District 3 headquarters are on Genesee Avenue in Saginaw. Dixie Motor Speedway is on Dixie Highway in Birch Run Township. and a few miles north in Bridgeport Township is the Bridgeport Township Administration Office. Also in Bridgeport is the Junction Valley Railroad, the world's largest quarter scale railroad system. The trail ends at Washington Avenue in Downtown Saginaw.
||Detroit||0.0||0.0||M-10 (Jefferson Avenue)||Southern terminus|
|0.7||1.1||Adams Avenue||Southern terminus of M-1; state maintenance begins|
|2.7||4.3||I-94 west (Ford Freeway) - Chicago||No access to eastbound I-94|
|5.8||9.3||M-8 (Davison Freeway)|
|9.2||14.8||M-102 (8 Mile Road)||8 Mile is the border between Wayne and Oakland counties|
||Royal Oak||11.3||18.2||I-696 (Walter P. Reuther Freeway) – Lansing, Port Huron|
BL I-75 / BUS US 24 (Square Lake Road)
|Northern terminus of M-1; Woodward Avenue continues into Downtown Pontiac as BL I-75/BUS US 24|
|25.0||40.2||M-59 (Huron Street)|
|25.5||41.0||BL I-75 (Perry Street)||Northern end of BL I-75 concurrency|
|Waterford Township||27.9||44.9||US 24 (Dixie Highway)||BUS US 24 ends; Saginaw Trail follows US 24/Dixie Highway|
|Independence Township||34.0||54.7||M-15 north (Main Street) – Clarkston||Southern terminus of M-15|
|Springfield Township||36.2||58.3||I-75 – Flint, Detroit||US 24 ends at exit 98; state maintenance ends and Dixie Highway continues as a county road|
||Grand Blanc Township||48.0||77.2||I-75 – Flint, Detroit||Exit 106 on the Oakland–Genesee County line; Saginaw Trail is known as Saginaw Road or Saginaw Street in Genesee County|
|48.7||78.4||M-54 (Dort Highway) – Flint|
|Flint||59.2||95.3||I-69 – Lansing, Port Huron||Exit 138|
|59.6||95.9||M-21 (Court Street)|
|Mount Morris Township||65.8||105.9||I-475 – Saginaw, Detroit||Exit 13|
|Vienna Township||69.2||111.4||M-54 south (Dort Highway) – Flint||M-54 joins Saginaw Road; state maintenance begins again|
|71.3||114.7||M-57 (Vienna Road) – Clio, Montrose|
|73.4||118.1||M-54 north (Clio Road) – Birch Run||M-54 turns north on Clio Road, leaving Saginaw Road; state maintenance ends again|
||Birch Run Township||77.0||123.9||M-54 / M-83 – Birch Run, Frankenmuth||Just east of I-75 exit 136|
|Bridgeport||85.5||137.6||I-75 / US 23 – Saginaw, Flint||Exit 144|
|Saginaw||91.0||146.5||M-46 east (Holland Avenue) – Sandusky||Saginaw Trail changes street names to Genesee Avenue in the City of Saginaw|
|91.1||146.6||M-46 west (Remington Street) – Alma||M-46 is routed on a one-way pair of streets here in Saginaw|
|92.6||149.0||M-13 (Washington Avenue) – Bay City|
|93.5||150.5||Michigan Avenue||Northern terminus|
|1.000 mi = 1.609 km; 1.000 km = 0.621 mi
- Barnett, p. 192–193.
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