Michigan’s Very First Interstate Road Built in 1812 Still Exists
Michigan Territory's first governor was William Hull who, in 1808, negotiated with the Wyandot tribe for permission and aid in building a road that spanned from Detroit to the Maumee River and down to Upper Sandusky, Ohio. That sounded good to the Native Americans, as they believed the United States would let them keep their villages for the rest of their lives and beyond.
That December, the proposal went through and the survey began, ending in January 1809. But it was never built.
Fast forward to spring 1812. Hull was now general of the U.S. Northwest Army and was ordered to leave Detroit and invade Canada. Hull went to Ohio (in an area which is now Dayton) to hook up with his new recruits. As they marched thru Ohio's Great Black Swamp 200 miles to Detroit, they built a road along the way, in an attempt to make the journey easier next time around.
They did not have sufficient tools or animals to haul and it all had to be done – tediously – by the soldiers. According to National Park Service, “Every wet or swampy area had to be corduroyed, a process of laying logs parallel to each other but perpendicular to the road edges. These logs then would be covered with dirt to fill the gaps to make the roadway smooth.”
Once back in Michigan Territory, Hull's men bridged the Huron River and finished the log road to Detroit – making this the very first Michigan interstate.
And you know what? Portions of that road still exist, so you can visit and get some good shots. It's called “Hull's Trace” and is found along Jefferson Road at the Huron River south of Detroit.
Park in the Hull's Trace parking lot, cross the road, and down at the river's edge you will see the remains of this extraordinary piece of history. Take a look at the photos below for a good look!
Michigan's Very First Interstate: Hull's Trace, 1812
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