West Michigan Pike Dedication
April 30, 2010 — A dedication ceremony for the West Michigan Pike historic marker was held today, at the City Riverfront (between the bridge and beach). This historic marker commemorates the heritage route which passed through New Buffalo about a century ago.
For more information on the West Michigan Pike, please see the Southwest Michigan RoadMap: The West Michigan Pike and the beachtowns.org webite. This event was organized by the Harbor Country Convention and Visitors Bureau.
The historic West Michigan Pike was founded in 1911, and completed in 1922. Please see this fascinating historic directory from that time.
The West Michigan Pike state historic marker is located along New Buffalo's riverfront, on North Whittaker, just north of the bridge.
Historic Marker Side 1: At the turn of the twentieth century, deep ruts and sand made West Michigan roads nearly impassable. In 1911, the West Michigan Lakeshore Highway Association was founded to promote the construction of the first improved highway along Lake Michigan in order to bring auto tourists from Chicago to Michigan to support the new resort industry that grew up when logging ended in the region. Completed in 1922, the West Michigan Pike extended from the Indiana state line to Mackinaw City. It was designated one of the first state trunk lines (M-11) in 1917, as part of the Dixie Highway in 1923, and incorporated into the nations first federal highway system as US-31 in 1926. Straightened and realigned over the years, it is also known as the Red Arrow and the Blue Star Memorial Highways.
Historic Marker Side 2: The West Michigan Pike, advertised as "Lake Shore All the Way Chicago to Mackinaw," was completed as a paved highway in 1922. Tourists, particularly those from Chicago who sought cooler temperatures by coming to Michigan, gained greater access to communities dotting the Lake Michigan shore between the Indiana state line and the Straits of Mackinac. In 1926 the pike (M-11) was designated US-31. By then, traffic congestion and poor road conditions were again impeding Travel. The West Michigan Pike Association, which had started the road, advocated for US-31 to be widened and rerouted in 1929 as a "superhighway." A full-blown tourism industry with lodgings, restaurants, and attractions grew up along the West Michigan Pike and flourished into the twenty-first century.
Harbor Country Convention and Visitors Bureau Executive Director Viki Gudas began the West Michigan Pike Historic Marker Dedication Ceremony:
State Historic Preservation Officer Brian Conway:
State Senator Ron Jelinek:
State Representative John Proos - District 79:
County Commissioner Andrew Varva:
Harbor Country Convention and Visitors Bureau Executive Director Viki Gudas and Michigan Historical Commissioner Tom Truscott unveil the marker (this image is courtesy of the Ray Gudas, Harbor Country News):
Mayor Pro Tem Jack Kennedy and County Commissioner Andrew Vavra:
Park and Recreation Board Chair Warren Peterson and Planning Commission Chair Marge Kowalec:
City Council Member and Business Improvement District Board Member Migs Murray, Business Improvement District Board Chair Robert Kemper, and Planning Commission Chair Marge Kowalec:
State Representative John Proos and NBAS Board of Education President Lisa Werner:
Chief of Police Larry Pitchford and Karen Bartos-Poff of Horizon Bank:
State Senator Ron Jelinek and the West Michigan Pike Historic Marker: