The Michigan Road was one of the earliest roads in Indiana. It Was the first road commissioned by the Indiana State Legislature in 1826. The road became a key thoroughfare in opening the state to settlement. It connected Madison on the Ohio River to Michigan City on Lake Michigan via Indianapolis, the new state capital. Roads in early Indiana were often roads in name only. In actuality they were sometimes little more than crude paths following old animal and Native American trails and filled with sinkholes, stumps, and deep, entrapping ruts.
Michigan Road History
Indiana's first "super highway" was the Michigan Road, which was built in the 1830s and 1840s and ran from Madison, Indiana to Michigan City, Indiana via Indianapolis. Like the National Road, it did much to spur settlement and economic growth. One-half of the pioneers to settle northwestern Indiana did so by using the Michigan Road to travel from the Ohio River to their destination. It was the "most ambitious" project to connect Indianapolis with the rest of the state, despite being never more than a "muddy road".
One of the things that made the road possible was a treaty the state of Indiana forged with the Pottawatomie on October 16, 1826. Governor James B. Ray led the negotiations. It allowed for a ribbon of land 100 feet (30 m) wide to stretch from the Ohio River (at Madison) to Lake Michigan (Michigan City). The Pottawatomie left the region by the very road when the last of their tribe was forcibly removed in the 1838 Pottawatomie Trail of Death.
A commission was selected to route the road from Indianapolis to Lake Michigan in 1828. It was told to make the trailhead be the best harbor, preferably natural, that could be had with Lake Michigan. The Kankakee River's swamp posed a problem for the construction of the road, forcing the commission to avoid a more direct northwesterly route and instead have it go from Logansport, Indiana straight up to the south bend of the St Joseph River (now South Bend, Indiana), and then west to Lake Michigan. Michigan City was formally selected to be the trailend in 1832.
The Michigan Road winds its way through fourteen counties and more than two dozen communities. It connects the north with the south and touches all of the topography we recognize as home in Indiana.
Cities & towns through which the Michigan Road passes: Michigan City, New Carlisle, South Bend, Lakeville, LaPaz, Plymouth, Argos, Rochester, Fulton, Metea, Logansport, Burlington, Michigantown, Kirklin, Indianapolis, Shelbyville, Greensburg, Napoleon, New Marion, and Madison.