This month’s pictures feature the roads around Long Lake and the surrounding area. The top left and bottom right pictures show M-43 before it was paved. The top left picture was taken in 1921 and the bottom right picture was taken about the same time. The bottom right picture was taken headed north just before the outlet of Long Lake and the top left picture is just over the hill.
Notice that there are no large trees in either picture! The large trees were all harvested before 1900, so almost every large tree you see today in the area is probably less than 100 years old. The top right picture of “The Wishing Tree” was taken before M-43 was paved. It was cut down in 1945 because it was both old and obstructed large trucks which were becoming popular means of transporting goods. The road from Hastings to Kalamazoo is very crooked because it follows many native Indian trails. And these trails were marked by bending trees such as “The Wishing Tree”. Locals believed that wishes would come true if made while going under the tree.
The “back roads” around the lake were developed by following property lines for the most part so that farmers did not lose land to the road system. One interesting road was put together from Kalamazoo to Grand Rapids near what is now US-131. Because it continually had parts that were sink holes and impossible to maintain It was “paved” using wood planks. It lasted just a year or so because the wood rotted and collapsed.
The last picture on the calendar shows the “Adams Leaning Grader”. The inventor, J.D. Adams worked for a company that built and sold equipment for building roads. He realized that if their grader had wheels that leaned the grader would push more dirt efficiently. He developed the leaning wheel grader and started his own very successful business. If you see one of the present day road graders notice that the wheels on it also can be leaned in the same way. There are at least two more leaning wheel graders on farms that are near Long Lake. Apparently, the local farmers bought them when motorized graders became available and used them to maintain their lanes to back fields. Click here to see a leaning wheel grader in use.
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