US-12 links Michigan to Washington state

Published 3:09 pm Monday, September 21, 2015

Travelers and residents come and go through Edwardsburg, but many of them do not know that the US-12 they travel is a very historic highway.

It is the east-west route through the northern Midwestern United States not only going through Michigan but all points west to the state of Washington and is America’s second federal highway.

It adopted the slogan “A Good Road from Plymouth Rock to Puget Sound.”

In Michigan, beginning in Detroit, US-12 spans 212 miles in southern Michigan. It passes through eight counties and several cities including Ypsilanti, Clinton, Jonesville, Coldwater, Sturgis, Edwardsburg, and New Buffalo before passing into Indiana. It is, or has been, known by several names: Old Saulk Trail, Chicago Road, US-112 and US-12.

Before World War II US-12 was the main thoroughfare between Detroit and Chicago, but it was replaced after the war with the development of the interstate highway I-94.

This caused the towns along US-12 to remain locked in time. Traveling along US-12 is like entering a time machine that takes you back to an America of the 1930s ad 40s. Continuing through Berrien County and southern Cass County, US-12 runs roughly parallel to the state line. It turns northeasterly to run into Edwardsburg, where it intersects M-62. The highway turns southeasterly and runs to the south of Eagle Lake before entering the community of Adamsville. The highway continues on this southeasterly course until it intersects the former M-205 and M-217 (Michigan Parkway) near Union and turns to the northeast. US-12 intersects the southern end of M-40 before crossing into St. Joseph County at the eastern crossing of the St. Joseph River.

On the eastern side of the river, US-12 enters Mottville and intersects M-10

Ten years ago the Edwardsburg Museum was asked to be a part of the effort to designate US-12 as a U.S. Heritage Trail. Michigan

Governor Jennifer Granholm dedicated US-12 at Cambridge Junction and the Walker Tavern as a State Heritage trail in June 2004 with many museum members in attendance.

As a result of the efforts a movie was made of the US-12 Trail entitled “Moccasins to Main Street” which was shown on public television.

The museum provided background and some photos for the movie. You can see the identifying sign on US-12 near the railroad tracks.

In 1916 the traffic count on Main Street or US-12 was 451 cars. Because of the traffic it was decided the “main four” needed a traffic cop to direct traffic at the intersection of Main and Cass Streets.

Up until 1939 it was a gravel road but it was finally paved from Five Points to Niles that year.

Just think that if I-94 hadn’t been built, we might be living on a super highway.


Jo-Ann Boepple works at the Edwardsburg Area History Museum.