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Settling a State

An Old Plank Road in East Lansing . . .

Plank Road Remains, Profile Detail 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. Halsey Examines Remains of Plank Road Dr. John Halsey, state archaeologist, examines the remains of the old plank road in East Lansing.

Excavations Looking Southwest 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.


Visit the Office of the State Archaeologist web site.

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