Friday, January 27, 2012

Tidbits from 1921 Washtenaw Map

While nosing around in a box of old maps the other day at the Archives, Dusty D found this gem: a 1921 beauty by the Auto Road Map Co. The map contains many details of vanished communities, railroads, and waterways.

Before ever seeing the copyright date, I noticed that Ford Lake was missing. This tipped me off right away that the map was made pre-1931, which is when Henry Ford dammed the river and began to create Ford Lake.

One now-vanished railroad is the old Huckleberry Line, then called the Lake Shore and Michigan Southern. You can see it exiting from the northern part of Ypsi and curving down to Saline, from which it continued west. You can also see the branch of the Detroit United electric interurban following alongside the "Chicago Turnpike," now Michigan Avenue. Remember the recent "cold wave" story? They threw a plow on one car, which was filled with photographers recording this novelty, and tried to forge through to Saline but the line was closed for literally weeks.

A branch of the old Ann Arbor railroad (still in use) is also visible, leading down to Urania. Urania was not a settlement per se but just a station name. It was named by one Thomas Richards who campaigned successfully to bring a railroad to Milan. He named it for his wife Urania Richards.

Another section of the interurban connected Ypsilanti and Ann Arbor. Here you can see a westward section of the Detroit United line traveling out to Chelsea...and beyond. How Dusty D would love to go back in time and take a leisurely ride on one of the cars.

Last and most nostalgic IMO are the many little settlements on the map, now vanished. Here you can see Lima Center, Jerusalem, and Rogers' Corners, all west of Ann Arbor. Just south of these is Fredonia, which is still referred to as an existing community on the Freedom Township website. Many others are just vestigial names, like Mooreville, with only old cemeteries remaining to remember the onetime founders and residents of these tiny communities, long gone.


Building Place said...

Great map and a great post. One correction: Mooreville is more than a "vestigial name... with only old cemeteries remaining...."

While perhaps less thriving than what it once was a century ago, the hamlet of Mooreville remains a recognized community within York Twp., with a number of residents and even sewer service courtesy of the Milan system.

Dusty D said...

Wow. I didn't know it was still a viable community; thank you for the correction, BP. We drive through there on the way down to parents' house, and the intersection of Stony Creek Road and Ann Arbor-Saline (?) road is the only part of it I've seen, so I was wrong to conclude that that was the "downtown." I love the fading old church--I hope there's someone intent on preserving that. The little cemetery just north of the church is small but lovely. Sewer system all the way from Milan?! Wow!

Dusty D said...

Er, to say that more precisely, that intersection always seemed pretty much deserted and moribund, so I concluded (incorrectly) that the settlement itself was one of those name-only type vanished places. Annnnyways.