An Old Plank Road in East Lansing . . .
On June 30, 1995, workers reconstructing Grand River Avenue in East Lansing,
Michigan, ran into a
series of logs lying side by side two feet below the road surface. An on-site technician
from the Michigan Department of Transportation recognized the logs as a significant
historical discovery, the remains of one of Michigan's early plank roads.
Begun in the summer of 1850, the Lansing and Howell opened in June 1851 connecting with
the Detroit and Howell Plank Road. The plank roads were subject to heavy traffic. Warped,
worn and missing planks made passage a trial as illustrated in a poem by Asa H. Stoddard,
"Riding on the Plank."
Dr. John Halsey, state
archaeologist, examines the remains of the old plank road in East Lansing.
None of the planks for the old road remained. They may have been salvaged for other uses
or rotted away from exposure to the weather. In this photograph, the archaeologists
investigate logs that were placed in a swampy area to provide a base for the planks.