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!

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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My Town Monday: Railroads & Growth

In someways, it seems clear that railroads were instrumental in the growth of some towns.

Looking at the towns in Livingston County one can see some interesting differences.

(Here’s a map for reference.)

Howell started small, but saw a great deal of growth towards the end of the 1880s. In 1871, a railline was put in that connected Detroit to Howell, then onwards through Fowlerville and Lansing. Around that same time, Howell managed to get a second line running through the town, this one connected Ann Arbor with points North. This line runs pretty much along the same line that I-96 runs.

Howell was and is the biggest town in Livingston County. It has the largest downtown area. And I’m not talking to modern suburban retail shopping land sprawl. I’m talking honest to goodness, old-time downtown area.

Brighton is the second biggest town, and it sits on the same East-West railroute (now the CSX railway) as Howell. From what I can tell, Brighton grew slower. The main rail station and main destination seemed to be Howell. Brighton’s growth may have come later when auto travel became more popular and US-23 was built (in one or more forms!), running North/South along Brighton between Saginaw and Ann Arbor.

Hartland was a small village for a very long time. It is not near to any railways– one would either have to travel to Holly or to Brighton and make their way overland to reach Hartland. Hartland’s also not along any rivers. When US-23 was constructed as a limited access highway, the ramps were built north of the town at Clyde Road and south of the town at M-59. The M-59/US-23 junction has been growing with weeds– I mean, urban retail mall sprawls in recent years, but technically, it’s not really the village of Hartland, only part of Hartland Township.

Fowlerville was and is a small town, mostly rural. It seems that it was too far from Lansing for folks, (and WAY too far from Detroit.) The same railline through Brighton and Howell runs along Fowlerville, but it stayed a small town. Still a fair amount of farming up there, but too far from most jobs, I think.

Pinckney and Hamburg have both similarly remained small towns. These two towns were along the now-gone Grand Trunk Western railroad, that ran from Detroit to Jackson. There’s some evidence of the Pinckeny/ Hamburg seeing largely recreational travel. People from the cities would come out to Zukey or one of the many lakes. Many, many of the houses that were built along the lake shores are tiny, tiny houses built during the twenties. Perhaps many of them were just summer houses for the people getting out of the cities?

Hamburg had two stations, one for the Grand Trunk Western and one for the Ann Arbor rail, but remained a tiny town near the Huron River. Even now, the down town portion is reached by turning off the main road, M-36 and going around a 90 degree bend.

Today, Hamburg has been growing with suburban development. Pinckney, however, has seen only limited development.

The trains still run, occaisionally. They’re no longer any contributing or detracting factor to development. Well, of course the low-income housing is wedged next to the tracks. It’s interesting to travel out to Hartland, Highland and points east and notice the distinct lack of railways.

Clearly the lack of railways didn’t hinder growth as metro Detroit oozed it’s way east. Now, clearly it’s the proximity of major highways that helps or hinders growth. But one has to wonder why places like Hamburg never boomed– it had rails and the Huron River.

Come back in the next couple weeks to find out more about the history of Livingston County’s railroads.

Travis Erwin collects the My Town Monday folks in one place.

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My Town Monday: John Pinckney’s Problem

In 1834, John D. Pinckney left his home in New York. He traveled up the Erie Canal to Buffalo, New York, then took a steamer up Lake Erie to Detroit. From there he taveled to Salem, Michigan (southeast of South Lyon, east of Whitmore Lake.) He left his family with his father who lived in Salem, then went on into the wilderness of Livingston County to begin clearing the land he’d purchased and make a home of it.

It kills me to think that this chunk of suburbia was once covered with trees instead of overpriced site-condos and SUVs.

John D. Pinckney’s property was on the eastern edge of Howell Township. He was one of the first settlers in the Howell Township area. This area was also where “Livingston Centre” was established as the temporary county seat. His homestead was near the shores of Thompson Lake, “far north” of the Grand River Trail. The Grand River Trail was the only real “road” at the time, though it was certainly more a winding trail between trees than a road as the folks coming from New York would have been used to.

John D. Pinckney’s house was pretty typical of the time, a single room log house. The house did not have windows, doors or floor. Blankets covered the window and door holes and a fire would be lit to keep the wolves away. In December of 1834, he brought his family up to live in that house. His family at the time included a wife and two young daughters.

Being in the center of the county, and one of the first folks with a permanent residence in the area, John D. Pinckney was compelled to provide shelter and accommodation to many land seekers. Apparently, his house was the one the increasing number of land seekers were looking for as they made there way to Livingston Centre, and more importantly to the wild lands west and north of Howell Township. According to the 1880 History of Livingston County, Mr. Pinckney was not inclined towards providing these services.

One has to think that a man who would move his family to the middle of, well, nowhere, miles from civilization is probably a bit of a recluse. Which then makes sense that he wouldn’t have been too happy with having to house these newcomers who happened across his place on their trek.

The place that travelers realled needed was Amos Adams’ tavern house (aka the Eagle Tavern), not far from Mr. Pinckney’s house. This tavern initially was the county-seat building.

In 1835, the Eagle Tavern was built, with Pinckney selling some of his land for it. He was kind of pushing for a place for travelers to stay… probably so they’d stop crashing at his one-room place with him, the wife, and the daughters.

In November 1835, two fellows, Edward Brooks and Flavius J. B. Crane, purchased the chunk of land that would be organized into the Village of Howell. They platted the lands and recorded such in Wayne County (where Detroit is.) This prospective village was then given the name Howell, the same as the township that it’s in. And thus ended the name Livingston Centre. From then on, it has been Howell. First Village and now city.

Not a very big city, mind you. Nothing taller than three stories. Though, I bet John D. Pinckney wouldn’t care for what Livingston Centre turned into. Somedays, I don’t either.

NOTE: The answers to last weeks question are in the comments– click here.

My Town Monday was started by Travis Erwin. Check his place out for more towns.

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My Town Monday: Old Brighton High School

The title’s not quite right, really, but it’s the best I can come up with for the building. Currently it’s called the BECC building (for Brighton Education and Community Center.) That’s what I’m going to refer to as because that’s what it is to me. =)

Situtated at the top of the hill just east of town, at the corners of Main Street and Church Street is the building that once was Brighton’s High School.

Originally built in 1928, the BECC building replaced the Union School. The Union School was the first brick (and thereby “permanent” school built in the Brighton area.) Previously, classes had been held in houses rented or frame buildings, which seemed to have a problem with burning down.
The BECC building cost $140,000 to build. The first graduating class had eight students. In 1966, 133 students graduated from the school.
The school opened to 341 students in the fall of 1928. The school was hailed as being “thoroughly modern” and “exemplery in design and curriculum.”
You can see from these old pictures (poached from Brighton Area Centenniel and Old Brighton Village books, both produced in the mid-1970s for the, well, the Brighton Centenniel) that the original building consisted of the one section as contained in the first picture.
Including the tall smoke stack.
In 1953, classes for the high school started at 8:30am (which is my kind of start time!) Lunch was between 12:20 and 1:19. The school day endd at 3:12pm. The school year that fall staretd on September 11 and got out June 4. Students had to purchase their text books, but could get credit for turning in the books from the previous year. Easter was a TWO DAY recess.
In the modern pictures, you can see some things have changed. The front steps and flag pole seem to be missing, for starters. And the trees are bit bigger these days. Even in the middle of Februrary when it’s bitter cold.

In 1950-1, a wing was added to the North end of school to house a shop.
The gym was tacked onto the South end the same year.
In 1954 and 1957, a Junior High was added to the school. From what I can tell, the high school and junior high were housed in the same building for several years.

In the mid-sixties, Brighton began building a new High School down the road. The old High School first turned into a middle school, then later when a new middle school was built, the BECC building got it’s current purpose. The New High School, which is still the current Brighton High School opened in 1966. The school has spread out over the years, addding on several times to it’s current (and in my never humble opinon, bloated) size of 2200+ students.

Crrently, the BECC building houses administrative offices, a preschool/daycare program and the alternative/ adult high school. Though the last item is the least known of all part of the Brighton Area Schools. Many people have lived in the area their entire lives without knowing that there is a successful alternative high school program in the area.

While doing some research on the BECC building, I came across two articles.
The first reported the results from a survey of Brighton elementary shcool students. This study found that the students were lacking basic skills and didn’t like school.

The second article was imploring high school students who had enjoyed working their summer jobs to come back to high school in the fall, rather than dropping out to continue working.

Can you guess the dates of these two articles? Heck, I’ll narrow it down– pick one of the following decades for each article.
1950s 1960s 1970s 1980s 1990s
(Answer in the comments)

The more things change, the more they stay the same…

My Town Monday is the brain-child of Travis Erwin.

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My Town Monday: Kensington

There is no Kensington, Michigan. Not anymore.

Especially not since I-96 was put in through what did remain of the village of Kensington.

But there used to be a little village along the banks of the Huron River, just north of South Lyon and west of New Hudson.

The name survives with the Kensington Metro Park that’s off I-96. And in Kent Lake. Apparently Kent is a shortening of Kensington since Kensington was too long for local people to say in everyday conversation. They used the longer word in print, and the shorter word in speech. The shorter version was attached to one of the local lakes. (And you thought laziness was a new phenomenon!)

In the 1840s, Kensington rivaled the other local towns like Milford and New Hudson, and had a hotel, a sawmill, the standard stores, a bank, and a Baptist Church (pic below).

It was the bank that put Kensington on the national map. Or so it’s told in the Brighton Bicentenniel (published 1976.) The promoters of the Kensington Bank issued a lot of unbacked currency and unloaded it for land and merchandise around Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Then two officials took off with the remaining assests.

On top of that, merchants in Kensington became known for not paying their bills. In Eastern wholesale circles, the town became proverbial. When a wholesaler had an uncollectable account, he said: “The good have gone to Kent.” (There’s that Kent again, rather than Kensington! I don’t get it… Kensington’s not that hard to say. Anyway, back to history…)

Below is the Kent Bank. It was made of red brick, which was really popular during the 1830s and 40s when much of Livingston County (and surrounding areas) were sprouting. The Bank stood until about 1920 or so.

Unfortunately, the tales of Kent Bank have been lost with time. Many people don’t even realize that there’s nothing left of the town. Or that there was a town called Kensington. Or some of the other little towns that doted the landscape, about a day’s trip in between.

When you look at an old map, like one of Livingston County, there were little towns at a lot of the major road intersections. These towns were usually far enough apart from each other that folks could walk or ride a horse on a day excursion into town for the things they needed. As travel became easier, most of the tiny settlements disappeared, with just a few of the bigger towns becoming the place that people went.

Kensington was on the Grand River Trail (now called Grand River Ave) between Brighton and New Hudson. But, long before the railroads went in and far before cars, and even before the Civil War, Kensington was already dying as a town. Most of the structures were gone before the start of the Civil War. Maybe it was because of the bank?

Old Kent Bank (now 5/3 aka the Borg Bank) does not appear to have any relation to the defunct Kent Bank. There is a Kent County on the western side of Michigan, and Old Kent Bank began in that area. Or so they say… 😉

My Town Monday is a blog event started by Travis Erwin. Since he’s off galavanting and gambling, Barrie Summy is hosting the Links.

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