On page 2a of the Sesquicentennial Edition, it mentions that Portage Avenue was Penn Street at one time, and that Main Street was St.Joe Street. Penn Street was before my time, but I remember St.Joe Street and I also remember when West Michigan was North Street; East Michigan was Third Avenue; South Main Street was Flint Avenue to the railroad and Sixth Street, to the City Limits. I have been told that Portage Avenue was the first street, in the city, to be paved. I was also told that the concrete was mixed by hand.
Not very many of the streets, in the city, were paved, in 1920. I think that Main Street was concrete, from the North City Limits, to the Post Office, and St.Joe Street and Flint Avenue were brick surfaced. I don’t believe that Sixth Street was paved, at all. West Michigan Avenue (North Street) was concrete, to the City Limits, at Erie Street, which was it’s end. There was a fence across the end of the street, at that point and everything west of there was farm land. There was no street from Erie to, what is now, US 131. During the late 20’s and the 30’s the City covered many of the streets with cinders from the boilers at the Eddy Paper Mill. That made a fairly good surface, but the dust was terrible.
Bill Barnhardt, at one time, bred and trained trotting horses, and had a race track in the area about where McDonald’s Drive In and Robert’s Trailer Park, are now. Later on, Carnavals and Side Shows used the same area.
I seem to remember that West Michigan Avenue was extended from Erie Street in the late 1920,s and became Highway M-60, which brought about the paving of East Michigan Avenue, to the Cemetery gates, where M-60 turned, abruptly, North and left the City at Sixth Avenue. It then continued North across the Haines farm, to Hoffman Road. That ninety degree corner, at the Cemetery, created a real traffic hazard. We lived on the south side of the street, right at the end of East Michigan Avenue, and I don’t know how many cars, and trucks, crashed into the Cemetery gates before they started leaving them open, at night.
Hoffman Road ended at the East boundary of the Airport, which was then the Dodge farm. The road turned north, here at the east edge of Collise’s Woods, and the west edge of the Brown farm. In 1929 the Highway was extended, diagonally, across the Brown property and then it roughly followed the old road, past the Grange Hall, to the point where the old road turned east to follow the river to the Sturgis Dam.
M-60 continued on north from the point where the old road turned East, across the Jeff Ware farm, and intersected what is now the east end of South Fisher Lake Road.