Historic highway subject of Michigan authors’ talk

Published 6:14 pm Friday, August 17, 2012

LAKESIDE — M. Christine Byron and Thomas R. Wilson, authors of “Vintage Views along the West Michigan Pike: From Sand Trails to U.S. 31,” will discuss the historic West Michigan Pike at 5 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 18, at the Lakeside Inn, 15251 Lakeshore Rd., Lakeside. The West Michigan Pike was the first continuous, improved road between Chicago and Mackinaw City, and it opened the state to automobile tourism. Summer resorts, motels and roadside attractions were built along the highway to serve tourists, and many of these buildings remain today.

The event, which is sponsored by the State Historic Preservation Office (SHPO), is the final presentation of a series of six that have been sponsored by the SHPO as it wraps up a five-year project dedicated to documenting the historic resources along old U. S. 12 and U.S. 31 between New Buffalo and Ludington and raising awareness of the history of the area.

“Many of the mom and pop motels, drive-in restaurants and resort architecture that developed during the early to mid-20th century still exist,” said State Historic Preservation Officer Brian Conway. “These buildings represent Michigan’s early years as a tourist destination, long before there was a Pure Michigan campaign. Many of these buildings face uncertainty. We hope that by educating the public about this interesting part of our past, people will appreciate these important historic places. We are pleased to have Chris Byron and Tom Wilson present the history of the pike through the historic images and memorabilia that they have collected.”

Byron and Wilson received a 2012 Michigan Notable Book Award for “Vintage Views along the West Michigan Pike: From Sand Trails to U.S. 31,”