my town monday, Uncategorized

My Town Monday: Mountain View

And yet I’m still talking about Livingston County. Situated just west of Brighton is Mount Brighton. This is a man made “mountain” that reaches 250 vertical feet.

Local rumor says it’s made of trash. I don’t know if that’s true or not.

Either way, it’s a ski hill. They have skiing and snowboarding in the winter. Since I am very much an indoor critter, I spend much of my winter where it’s warm. That doesn’t include skiing, snowboarding, or much else that takes me outside longer than necessary. Except brushing the snow off my stupid car.

In recent years, Mount Brighton added the Jackal Golf Course around the backside of the hill. This is an eighteen hole golf course.

I don’t golf either. I grew up next to a golf course and still don’t understand the appeal. I’d rather be at home with a book or my internet.

And another thing that’s new to hill that we call Mount Brighton in summer is Sphereing. This nauseua inducing activity involves climbing into a giant inflatble hamster ball and rolling down the hill.

I have never done that either. I have innards that are dreadfully sensitive to spinning and rolling and other motions. Growing up, any car trip included a stop for my breakfast to make an exit…

I have nothing against any fine folks who participate in these activities. But my involvement with Mount Brighton is limited to the “Mountain” Vista it provides and trying to make a turn from Challis onto Bauer roads. Bauer is one of those just-busy-enough roads that makes a turn difficult at best. And if you’re turning right from Challis, Bauer is an extra steep hill. Try *that* in a stick shift car!

Mount Brighton is one of our landmarks around here. I remember driving into Brighton winters ago and watching them make their own snow. Still, I drive by and watch the people skiing and snowboarding down the hillside.


And all I can think is, “Aren’t they COLD?” But I have a serious aversion to cold. My abhorrence of the cold would make one think that I would move to some place warmer (maybe down where Travis lives.)

But I’m Michigan born and bred. This is my home.

No, I did not see any snow this weekend. I very much did not. I know it was reported, but I refuse to admit I saw nothing.

Make sure you visit Travis Erwin for more My Town Monday posts. Travel the world from your computer.

Read more

my town monday, Uncategorized

My Town Monday: Lee Road Roundabouts

Some brainiac decided that Brighton needed mall. They bought up some land nestlted between US-23 and Island Lake State Park.

Only, this intersection (and set of freeway ramps) was already a dreadful set up. It would have to be redone to accept traffic for the new mall.

Someone came up with the idea of putting in roundabouts. I’m not opposed to roundabouts… but whoever came up with the set up for the Lee Road Roundabouts was insane. There are three roundabouts, two literarlly on top of each other. And a craptacular design that even I have trouble figuring out. It’s like a free-for all– floor it and hope no one’s in the way.

Click here for a full size pic.

You have expressway traffic, mall traffic, local road traffic. And a couple multi-lane roundabouts to figure out.

It’s incredibly confusing, particularly since every lane crosses another lane through the big roundabout (bottom of the screen.)

I’m a fan of roundabouts, really, just not this one. I try to avoid going through it. It’s really just the lanes crossing each other that really throws me.

Though, truth is, the roundabout has only seen two accidents (that I’ve ever heard of) since it’s opening. And both of those accidents were caused when some dipshit put their car in REVERSE when they passed where they were going. Um, last time I checked, it is NEVER okay to go in reverse with traffic behind you– roundabout, regular road, or even parking lot. Not a roundabout problem– driver error at it’s “finest.”

I’m sure one contributing factor to the low accident rate is that people who are confuddled by it (like me) avoid it. The other factor is certainly the low speeds– you can’t go fast through the roundabouts.

I hear there’s some good shops at the mall. Nothing has enticed me, yet. I admit that if I so desired (or needed) I would learn how to navigate this engineering “masterpiece.” I did, after all, learn how to drive the expressway, a stick shift, and other things that I was incredibly resistant to once upon a time ago. But for now, I’m just going to declare this a clusterfuck and avoid it. Little roundabouts are okay– this is nuts.

What’s your favorite road-design distaster?

Visit Travis Erwin for more My Town Monday posts.

And I also have an entry in Patti Abbott’s Flash Fiction Challenge below (avoid if you don’t like naughty things. 😉

Read more

my town monday, Uncategorized

My Town Monday: Roundabout We Go

User error is not a design flaw.

But some people are adamant that because the “new” roundabout(s) in Brighton are bad. Furthermore, these same people contend that all roundabouts are bad and we shouldn’t have them in Michigan.


Here is the little roundabout at Main and Third Street in downtown Brighton.

Before the roundabout was built, Main Street had a right of way and Third Street had a stop sign. The only significance of Third Street is that the Brighton Police Department is there. And, surprisingly, Third Street seems to be a fairly often used thoroughfare. It connects Main Street to the other path out of town, Brighton Lake Road.

Simple, unassuming little roundabout. When it went it, it was the first roundabout in the area. And I mean, really. One of the first in Michigan, too. A new, novel, dreadfully frightening thing.

And years later, people are STILL whining over how awful they think (the) roundabouts are.

The complaints usually come in two flavors.

The first is that the roundabout is confusing and it’s too hard to learn it.

If you can’t figure out a little roundabout… please get off the road. Find someone competent enough. If you can’t figure out simple little roundabout– slow down & yield to traffic in the circle– then how do you manage the Michigan left or some of the delightful freeway ramps.

The Main Street roundabout is very basic. Slow down, yeild to traffic in the circle, proceed when clear.

Ah, well there’s the problem. But rather than realize that the DRIVER who doesn’t slow down, pay attention, or yield is the issue, many Brighton citizens blame the roundabout. How dare the road commision put in a roundabout. Didn’t the road commision realize that slowing down (you know, going 25 in a 25mph zone) and paying attention (like hanging up the bluetooh iphone) just shouldn’t be expected from drivers. Tsk.

The other flavor of compaint is that no body does as they should in a roundabout. People on Main Street will often fly straight through the little circle without even a touch to the brake pedal. No yeilding, and sometimes I’m not sure they even see if there is anyone in the circle.

Again, this is clearly the fault of the road commision.

Whenever discussin of the roundabouts comes up, as it often does for some reason, I keep reiterating that user error does not equal design flaw. I usually win.

Then someone mentions the Lee Road clusterfuck roundabout. And I have nothing more to argue.

Come back next week to read about that delight.

For now, tell me, what do you think about roundabouts? Do you have them where you are?

Do you find yeilding to little rusty cars a problem? If so, I’d like your name and address. I’ll be coming for you… I mean… um. Drive safe– keep it between the ditches.

And thanks to Travis Erwin. See him for More My Town Monday links.

Read more

my town monday, Uncategorized

My Town Monday: They’re Out There

They’re waiting, sometimes in corn fields along the roads.

Or standing in the trees, waiting for the sound of tires on ashphalt and the white triangle that marks the approach of my car.

They’ve tried before. Once, they almost got me. Almost.

They’re more determined than ever.

They’re waiting for a long straight stretch of road. Some night, when I’m on my way home.

Or perhaps early morning while Hubby goes to work. No way I get up “early” in the morning! I’m nocturnal. But so are they. Twilight and dawn. When the world is gray and sleepy, night still near.

They’re not thinking clearly– they’re reckless and careless. They’re minds are on one thing. Sex. Two if you count a good time. But that might still be one thing.

They’re a menace to the roads in and around the towns where I live and work. Long straight roads are the most menacing.

As I drive along, I have to be careful, be watchful. They might jump out at any moment. Doesn’t matter if I’m going 55 mph down a quiet country road. They’re not thinking about me.

They are after, all, just horny deer.

Yes, it’s that season again. When the deer are out frolicking and looking to get laid.

They almost got me once. Wounded, my Firebird limped away. The Firebird, my first car, had to be put down after a deer bounded out from this very field.

Okay, maybe he didn’t run out. Those deer live on the other side of the county where they kamikaze into the side of cars.

Maybe the deer just strolled across the OTHER lane to come stand in MY lane and stare at me like the dumbshit he was. He deserved to get hit. It’s not like I’m fool enough to go swerving into the trees, ditches, mailboxes, and farm fields. Hit the deer dead on.


He lived. The Firebird didn’t. (Okay, I have no idea if the deer had antlers or balls. It was a deer in the middle of the night and it wrecked my car. He could have had seven legs and good grills on his teeth and I wouldn’t have noticed.)

Two days later, in my replacement car, I nearly hit another one. Thus the conspiracy was revealed.

They’re after me.

I see them. Waiting. They’re biding their time. Trying to catch me off-guard. They know that I’m hypervigilant. So they wait.

Sometimes in groups. Sometimes, oddly, alone. Sometimes they dart across the road, to see if I’m paying attention. Today one was grazing in the center median of the expressway.

They almost got me once.

It’s only a matter of time before they try again.

So they wait. Along the edges of corn fields. Under the shadows of trees. In that odd gray light between daylight and nighttime. They’re out there.

Visit Travis Erwin to read other folks’ My Town Mondays.

Read more

my town monday, Uncategorized

My Town Monday: Country Mouse

The delightful Patti Abbott and I paired up again– she’s the City Mouse. She actually likes living in the city… and we paired up this week to do a little City Mouse, Country Mouse post with our respecitve hometowns.

What do I love about living in the country?

I love open fields and forests. Grass between my toes. Crickets and spring peepers. I prefer wild fields and wild flowers over manicured (often too short!) lawns and sparse, sterile flower arrangements. And I like anything growing more than I like anything man made.

I love quiet. I’m a rather solitary wampa hermit crab person. I like to not see in my neighbor’s windows. I like, if possible to not hear my neighbor’s beyond the occiasional slam of a door or mowing of the lawn. Similarly, I’d prefer they not hear me… especially certain times.

I love wildlife. As a tree-hugger, I like to know that there are still places where bunnies, chipmunks, squirrels, birds, and even deer (stupid deer) can live and frolic in a natural-ish habitat. That they haven’t completely lost their homes.

I love quiet drives down lonely two-lane highways. I love being able to safely make a left onto or off of a road without people behind me getting impatient. Especially since the rustbucket I have doesn’t hardly get out of it’s own way, and it’s not going to do so very fast. (I need a bumper sticker that says: “If you drove this car, you wouldn’t pull out either.”)

I love star gazing. Even the light pollution from the little cities near me obscures too, too many stars. My trip up to Mackinaw City two years ago made that clear with the bazillions more stars that were obscured by the orange glow of my local cities.

I love that few people in the country are in a hurry. They’re patient, understanding, and most of them are pretty nice. Not to mention the sense of community that comes from living together in a small area. (Not to say that it’s different in the city, but it is. In the country, the community is the town, all the different people from one corner to the next who meet up in the store or the gas station. In the city, it’d be a neighborhood or a clique.)

I don’t miss any of the city stuff– like drug stores on every corner, traffic, smog, and vistas taht consist of harsh corners and man-made structures. I don’t miss mile after mile of ashphalt (which also makes temperatures hotter in the summer.) I don’t miss chain stores or noisy neighbors. I lived in downtown Brighton for a spell, and while it was convnient to work, that was the only advantage. Everything eles, I can do with out. I don’t particularly go out much anyway. I have this thing where I get easily irritated at stupid people… it flares up a lot when I try to go to the movies or the grocery store.

Though I admit that I like being only a short drive from town. I think more than 30 minutes is too long. Luckily, in Livingston County, there’s not much city, so it’s possible to live in the sticks and have a job in the “city.”

Sadly, my little slice of country is turning more into suburbia (which leads to city. Cities lead to suffering, to the dark side of the force. 😉 But I still think of myself as a country girl. With high speed internet of course.

Are you a Country Mouse or a City Mouse?

And don’t forget to visit Travis Erwin for other My Town Monday posts!

Read more

Uncategorized

My Town Monday: A My Town Meme

Couple weeks back, Travis Erwin, the man behind My Town Monday, posted a Meme. I was doing my series on railroads, so I put it off. Until now. But here it is– my My Town Meme

HOMETOWN (past, present, or future – your choice) — Livingston County. Okay, it’s a county, not a town. But having lived in Howell, Brighton, and Hamburg; student taught in Hartland; attended school in Pinckney, I can’t really pick one of these towns and call it my town. So I call the county my home.

POPULATION — 2000 census put the poplation about 156,000. The 2007 estimate was 183,000, but I’m not sure if the numbers have maintained the formerly-expected growth. Like the rest of Michigan, Livingston County was nailed in the back of the economic skull and knocked to it’s knees. Houses are empty all over the places, and I have to think the population has been affected. Unfortunately, there are still too many people in Livingston County…

YOU SHOULD THINK OF MY TOWN WHEN … you think of Bo Fexler, Patti Abbott, or Michigan beyond Detroit. Other than that, Livingston County is just another partly-rural area in a midwest state. But the coolest shaped state.

YOU SHOULD CUSS MY TOWN WHEN … another suburban school is rocked by some stupid scandal that comes about from a combination of oblivious parents, too much money, and not enough responsibility. We’re not the cause for such anation-wide stupidity, but we’re just one more place in the U.S. where parents are too concerned with their SUV and McMansion payments who thought living in the “country” (Ha!) would solve the problems with their never-disciplined kids. Yea. At least it’s job security for me as an alternative high school teacher. 😉

ONE MUST SEE IF YOU VISIT — Downtown Brighton– visit the Imagination Station, the Tridge, and the Yum-Yum Tree.

ONE PLACE YOU SHOULD AVOID — The Double Roundabout from Hell on Lee Road at US-23. There’s nothing wrong with roundabouts in general, but this one is three double roundabouts damn near on top of each other. And too that the elistist jerks in Brighton who think that whatever direction they are going has the right of way… it gets interesting sometimes. Besides, the only thing on the other side is another stupid ass mall that replaced a lovely open field. =(

FAMOUS RESIDENT — Edwin B. Winans, one time governor of Michigan, once upon a time ago.

RENOWNED ATHLETE — Drew Henson. Brighton High School graduate who played University of Michigan football. Then went off to play with the Yankees. He’s currently on the practice team with the Detroit Lions. (Snicker… practice squad for one of the worst teams. Wow.)

WITHOUT MY TOWN, THE WORLD WOULD NOT HAVE … Hell. Hell Michigan is one of the locales in Michigan. So, if you didn’t know, you can tell someone to “Go to Hell” without being profane. Or you can do like some of the sneaky kids around here will and say, “Go to Hell… Michigan.”

I LIVE IN MY TOWN BECAUSE … I always have. My folks moved here when I was about four (or so I’m told). I grew up in an old farmhouse between Hamburg and Pinckney. I got my first “real” job at a local chain retailer in Brighton. I worked there to pay for my expensive schooling at a local Teaching University. Then I met this guy… at the retailer where I worked. We worked together, then got an apartment together. So we stayed. Then I got a teaching job at a lcoal alternative high school, and we still stayed. Though we got exiled to our current home out past the edge of civilization. And here we are. My family is still around. His family is not far away. We’ll be local yokels for life, I’m sure.

I MIGHT LEAVE ONE DAY BECAUSE … well, I was going to say ‘if I got enough money for a place on the island of Kuaii’ but I think I’ll always be a local yokel. I like being a ‘troll’ and living under the (Mackinac) Bridge. I like living in the mitten-shaped, and there for COOLEST shaped state ever. If I got enough money to have a place on Kuaii, it would only be a vacation home. But, man, that would be nice. =)

Any questions?

Don’t forget to see Travis Erwin for other My Town Monday posts.

Read more

my town monday, Uncategorized

My Town Monday: 8 Mile Road

8 Mile Road bears significance and importance in Detroit. 8 Mile is the dividing line between the city limits of Detroit and the suburbs. Eminem’s movie was called 8 mile and refers to the distinction between living IN Detroit and in the suburbs. Patti Abbott has more on 8 Mile Road in Detroit.

Though, truthfully, out in Livingston County, I consider anything East of Wixom to be part of “Metro Detroit.” And as such, I prefer to avoid it like a sleepover of giggly pre-teen girls.

Eight Mile Road extends west from Detroit out to the Livingston County area. Techinically it’s part of Wasthenaw County.

Out here, the significance of 8 Mile road is that…

It ends. Otherwise, it’s just another dirt road.

Here’s the end of 8 Mile– at Marshall. Eight Mile comes in from the left. The road curving away on the right side of the pic is Marshall. Here is the inauspicious end to 8 Mile Road.

And it meant so much in Detroit.

Not only is 8 Mile in these parts just another dirt road, it’s actually a barely-traveled dirt road that’s infrequently maintined.

It was so riddled with potholes that we couldn’t even manage 10 miles per hour without jarring out fillings and stopping to pick up parts that would fall of the car. (Well, parts would have fallen off except we had Hubby’s shiny new car not my monument to Michigan’s Love of Winter Salting.)

Out in the sticks, it’s always amusing to find a section of paved road in the middle of a dirt road. This section goes across a stream… which I can’t find the name of at this time.

After Pontiac Trail, 8 Mile is paved and heads off to… well as far as I’m concerned it heads off into lands with dragons and such. It’s not part of my personal map. That’s East… towards Metro Detroit. Where roads have more than three lanes and there are… people.

According to Google Maps, 8 Mile heads off into Northville.


8 Mile is just south of the town of South Lyon. For many years there wasn’t anything at 8 Mile. It was just a stop sign outside of town. But now it boasts a traffice light and stores and stuff.

I like the dirt part better. Much quieter.

This shot is waiting to turn left at Pontiac Trail. Hubby was driving as we went to go play with my bothers. I have three of them. What better thing to do when the remnants of Hurricane Ike stroll into town than go play cards.

Out here 8 Mile is just another road. And if you’re heading into South Lyon, 9 or 10 Mile roads are better. So 8 Mile is a barely traveled road that few people even notice.

Funny how context matters.

Don’t forget to visit Travis Erwin for more My Town Monday posts.

Read more

my town monday, Uncategorized

My Town Monday: Lakeland Trail & GTW Railroad

The third railroad to run through Livingston County was the Grand Trunk Western. In the 1980s, this train track was dismantled, leaving the rail bed through the county as a gravel trail. It ran through South Lyon into Hamburg and through the Pinckney/ Lakeland area and beyond.

Lakeland is no longer a place on the map, but it was a railroad station on the GTW and a resort destination on the shores of Zukey Lake.


Before the automobile, there were quite a few advertisements in the papers for excursions to Lakeland, even with special rates for those who worked on the Ann Arbor Railraod.

(Picture borrowed from michiganrailroad.com )

With this picture in mind, I set out the other day to find where this is. The railroad station is gone, and the Ann Arbor Rail (aka TSBY) sees only the infrequent train. Also, the area looks quite different in 2008 than it did in 1909 when the photo was taken.

But I set out to the Zukey Lake area.

Looking east the ashpalt in the bottom right corner is the now-paved Lakeland Trail which was constructed along the old Grand Trunk Western line. The rail line is the Ann Arbor.

Further east, the Lakeland Trail crosses the Ann Arbor rail. But the crossing is not the diagonal junction that the rails originall made. I suppose with good reason. The new crossing is perpendicular– and all fenced in. The Ann Arbor is still a live rail line. Cross at your own risk.

(This photo is looking WEST)


Shortly past the junction, the lakeshore clears and there lies Zukey Lake. Looking quite refreshing on a beautiful summer day. No beach hear, or line of boats anymore, but I’m pretty sure this is the shore where the 1909 passengers disembarked in the above photo.

In the 1980s, this shot (again borrowed from michiganrailraods.com) shows the two railraods. The GTW was already abandoned, it was just a matter of time before the rails would be removed and the line left as a gravel trail.

This is that same crossing in 2008– if you look closly at the rear of picture you can see where the metal fencing stops. That’s where the the Lakeland Trail crosses the AA line.

I’m standing (to take the picture) roughly where the Lakeland Trail veers off from the original GTW railbed. The line would likely have continued straight from where I’m standing, diagonally intersecting the AA rail.

Originally, the GTW and AA rail did not have seperate lines in Lakeland (as that junction was eventually called.) The AA line actually came up to the GTW line near Lakeland and joined with that rail for several miles before breaking off to head north. Then, as rail traffic increased, a separate line was created with the crossing shown in the photos.

For most of my life the “Lakeland Trail” was really just an unofficial thing, with a handful of people who traveled the old railroad bed.

Most of it was just partially overgrown gravel. It’s curious to me that in twenty years, grass has still not completely overtaken the trail.

This spot here is where the trail crossed M-36, a two-lane thorough fare that is quite hazzardous most of the day.

From what I can tell, the project came about around 2005 with the trail being paved starting at near the township offices in Hamburg and continuing across Hamburg Township and into the town of Pinckney.

At some point the trail reverts to gravel. I didn’t walk/bike/ navigate the trail… I make no excuses– I just never have.

But I do know that when you get out to the abandoned Pinckney depot, the trail is gravel again.

This shot is taken looking East along the trail. The trail continues west at least through the tiny town of Stockbridge, and perhaps on for ever.

Along the way, the GTW/ Lakeland trail cross M-36. When the Trail was made into a linear state park, some foresight actually went into dealing with the problem of crossing M-36. A tunnel was built under M-36.

Which is also important because near that tunnel is Cap’n Frosty, our local ice cream shop. Last time I went there (gosh, I think I was still just dating my hubby…) they had the biggest ice cream scoops I have ever seen. The one scoop ice cream was the equivalent of a three scoop anywhere else. Don’t ask about the three scoop…

While I was out taking pictures, there was a(n all-too familiar) hoot. And a chug-chug.

A train came rolling on down the AA rail line. Some of the cars even had the letters TSBY (Tuscola Saginaw Bay) printed on the side.

That was too cool.

Even if there was no caboose… trains should have cabooses.

Hubby doesn’t understand why I think trains are cool… because the rest of the time I’m bitching about how I will never, ever so-help-me live next to a railraod crossing again. I maintain that trains are cool so long as I’m not living next to them. And besides the AA railroad engineers aren’t nearly as obnoxious as the CSX ones are at railraod crossings.

Read more

my town monday, Uncategorized

My Town Monday: The CSX Railway

There are seven railway crossing in Brighton, where the CSX meets a local road. Seven. And them wonderful CSX train engineers have to hoot the horn– LOUDLY– at every single crossing. All seven of them.

And it is possible to hoot the horn less loudly… I’ve heard it. Just not often on the CSX. This railway runs through Livingston County, coming from Detroit and heading towards Lansing and points beyond.

–In real life, you can make out the crossings at Main Street and Walnut/Fourth Street in the distance.

–In real life, you can make out the crossing at Brighton Lake Road. After that, it’s a while before another crossing.

Back in the 1880s when the line was being laid, the railway was called the Detroit, Lansing and Northern. Around 1950 the system was bought by the Chesapeke and Ohio (C&O) railway. There was a brief stint where at least part of the DNL/CSX line was owned by the Pere Marquette company, but it’s hard to tell from the historical records I have whether Pere Marquette was just the branch of the line that headed North through Novi/Wixom/Milford (farther East than these parts.) Apparently, some folks thought the initials for Pere Marquette (PM) meant Poor Management…

Then in the 1980s, about a hundred years after the rail line was built, it was owned by my pals CSX. The noisy trains of the CSX irritate me almost as much as Comcast Cable. Hubby and I lived nearly on top of the CSX railline for five years in small apartment. We heard the trains go rumbling through town. This same train used to make me late for work sometimes when I was new at my first “real” job at our local regional supercenter.

This same line aslo gets the dubious distinction of being the “South Lyon Train”. This is also a measure of how SLOW something is going. As in, “Traffic through there was moving slower than the South Lyon train!” The reason is because where the CSX cuts through South Lyon, for some reason it moves with all the speed of a snail crawling backwards. Probably doesn’t top 10mph on a fast day. Since the CSX line cuts right across Pontiac Trail– THE one, major N/S route through South Lyon– AND across 10 Mile (the one paved, major East/West route heading out of the town of South Lyon, particularly to go East to Novi et all– the CSX railway manages to stop up ALL traffic through the town for a good long time. It’s really a remarkable feat.

(spare parts?)

The train line went in during the 1880s. It runs a route more or less parallel to that of Grand River Ave (formerly the Grand River Trail) and I-96, connecting Lansing with Detroit. There was a passenger station for the CSX line in Fowlerville, Howell, and in South Lyon, but I can find no record of a depot in Brighton (so far). Though in the early 1900s, Brighton was a collection of small buildings nestled near the rail road tracks on the Grand River Trail, kind of along the North/ South route between Hamburg and Hatland (even smaller towns!). I believe that the train still or eventually did make stops in the city of Brighton because that would explain the existance of the “Western Hotel” which is right on the train tracks.

— The three story brick building is the Western Hotel. This barren area beside the tracks here may well have been where passengers got off.
There was a great deal of excitement when the Detroit, Lansing and Northern line was actually completed through the area, as it was a project from 20 to 30 years in the making. The trains even gave free rides to the locals.
While I was out taking pictures today, I caught this one of the CSX trucks rolling along the track in downtown Brighton. Kinda neat.
Come back next week for the Grand Trunk Western.

Read more

my town monday, Uncategorized

My Town Monday: Ann Arbor Railroad

By the late 1800s, Howell was already being served by an East/West train rail that ran from Detroit, to Lansing and then on to points north.

Howell thought it would be a great idea to have a second rail line through the city. The first one had brought great growth and more growth had to be a good thing.

Some years before, a rail line was proposed to run from Toledo to Ann Arbor and then onto the North. (Places north of Lansing in Michigan were pretty sparsely populated for a long time, and in fact, many areas are still thinly populated, with the exceptions being resort towns like Mackinaw City and Traverse City.) Many railways at the time included “Northnern” in their name.

The Ann Arbor Railway ended it’s northern run for years in South Lyon. But the ex-governor of Toledo had long planned to see the rail line continue to the North.

The residents of Howell raised $20,000 to get the Ann Arbor Rail Road to come through Howell. Apparently it worked. I can’t find any exact accounts at this point as to what happened with the South Lyon branch of the line, but at some point the line was removed. It was called the Toledo and Ann Arbor Western line. The Toledo, Ann Arbor and Northern line went North out of Ann Arbor, through Whitmore Lake, jogged west in Hamburg (to Zukey Lake.) and then headed on up through Howell and North to Durand, a large railroad town.

The Ann Arbor Railroad (apparently) stopped running any passenger lines in 1950-1. It is now a shipping line, with a main office in downtown Howell.

About 20 years ago, the Ann Arbor railroad became the Tuscola and Saginaw Bay Rail line under a conglomerate company. On railmaps of Michigan, the line is TSBY (though I prefer Ann Arbor Rail Road and my bias is evident in the name I chose to use throughout this piece. =)

The Ann Arbor railroad, paritcularly the station on Wetmore Street in Howell, has seen new life in recent years. During big events, such as one of the many festivals in Howell, the line comes to life with dinner rides and short trips. During the Christmas season, there is a Santa Train that takes kids to “the North Pole” to see Santa.

The Ann Arbor railroad, in general is the quieter line, and the one that’s nicer to live next to. Since I’m one of those ‘wealthy’ people who has their pick of where to live in town, I’ve ended up at different times living next to both the Ann Arbor and the CSX, the two active rail lines in Livingston County. I will never, ever live next to the CSX again. I would rather live in some, dark broken handy-man special in the middle of nowhere (or even Folwerville) before I voluntarily live next to the CSX. Noisy, noisy train with it’s WHOO-WHOO thirty-nine times when Monk (or anyother TV detective) is explaining what really happened… Yeah. No. Never again.

Next week, antoher of Livingston County’s three rail lines! And maybe pictures. I would have had pictures, but today got a bit derailed (ha!) when the brakes failed on my car. I’m fine, car’s fine, but my afternoon was ruined.

Check out other My Town Monday posts at Travis Erwin’s site.

Read more