Amy Arnold has a cool feature on the West Michigan Pike called Highway to History at Seeking Michigan that says (in part):
You may know it as old M-11, old US 31, the Red Arrow Highway or the Blue Star Highway – all names for a road that was originally called the West Michigan Pike, the first continuous concrete highway in West Michigan. Begun in 1911 as part of a strategy to bring auto tourists from Chicago to Michigan, the road was completed in 1922 and ran from New Buffalo to Mackinaw City.
…In the 1920s, an effort to create a series of connected, safe places for auto travelers to stay resulted in the development of a series of parks along the route, including seven state parks between New Buffalo and Ludington. During the Depression, Ludington State Park was the first state park in Michigan to be constructed by the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) and was a showplace for the National Park Service program. The West Michigan Pike was also important in Michigan’s early conservation history. Much of Michigan’s land had been clear cut and abandoned by the lumber industry. The state incorporated highway beautification and reforestation as part of its work to create good roads in Michigan.
Read more at Seeking Michigan, and you can also check out Amy’s historical study of architectural resources along the West Michigan Pike at Michigan Beach Towns. If you’d like to retrace the route, here’s an old flyer with the West Michigan Pike route.
Also, they note that there’s an exhibit titled Yesterday on the West Michigan Pike: Photographs by Vincent J. Musi, that shows the noted National Geographic photographers photos taken along the Pike in 2008. View some right here.
More beach wallpaper on Michigan in Pictures!