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The West Michigan Pike: Chicago to the Straits

  • North Berrien Historical Museum 300 Coloma Ave Coloma, MI 49038 United States (map)

With the emergence and rapid growth of the automobile in the early part of the 20th century, West Michigan roads made long-distance travel slow and difficult. The West Michigan Lakeshore Highway Association was founded in 1911 to foster a continuous, improved roadway that would encourage tourism from the Chicago area to support the new resort industry that began to develop after logging ceased in the region. Built between 1916 and 1922, the West Michigan Pike extended from the Indiana state line to the Straits of Mackinac. A section of the Pike went through Coloma and Watervliet around Paw Paw Lake, later becoming what we know today as M-140. 

Presenter John Geisler, a retired professor of counselor education and counseling psychology at Western Michigan University, will detail the West Michigan Pike's development, covering the names and numbering of the highways that became part of the Pike as well as a history of the resorts that flourished as a result of the increased tourism from ~1900-1955. Geisler has been studying Michigan's roads and highways for nearly twenty years. He has traveled thousands of miles over hundreds of hours collecting materials, taking photographs, and conducting research on highways.

No RSVP is required for this free presentation. For any questions about this program, please contact or call the Museum at (269) 468-3330.