Traveling the Chain of Lakes: When Trains and Water Taxis Ruled

Published In:
Community Observer, Spring 2013,
Spring 2013

Author: Grace Shackman

Publisher: Ann Arbor Observer Company

Date: Spring 2013

At rush hour the railroad underpass in Dexter turns into a bottleneck, as people who live north of the village come and go on their daily commute. Many of them live in lake homes, either converted cottages or new houses, on the Huron River’s Chain of Lakes. In contrast to today’s solo road warriors, a century ago families took a slower but more leisurely trip by train and water taxi to reach lakeside cottages and hotels.

The six lakes in the chain—starting at Zukey, through Strawberry, Gallagher, Whitewood, Base Line, and ending at Portage—are all fed by the Huron River. The Huron starts north of Milford, flowing west until it reaches Portage Lake, where it turns east and south and eventually spills into Lake Erie. The Chain of Lakes is at the end of the western-flowing stretch and comprises larger bodies of water connected by narrower ones. “The change of scenery from lake to river and river to lake was beautiful beyond description to a lover of nature,” wrote Eli Moore in 1907, recalling an 1877 rowboat trip he took from Portage, where he was camping, to Zukey.
The lakes at each end of the chain, Zukey and Portage, are off to the north side of the river, but are connected to it—by Devil’s Basin at Zukey and by a canal at Portage that was deepened and widened in 1928. Scott Strane, who’s at work on a book tentatively titled What Is a Zukey?, thinks that the name comes from the Chinese words for the crescent moon, though he admits uncertainty about how a Chinese name would have arrived in nineteenth-century Michigan. Rick Glazer, co-owner of the Zukey Lake Tavern, believes that the name is of Native American origin.
Early French explorers gave Portage its name. It was here that they left the eastward-flowing Huron River watershed, carrying their canoes overland to connect to the westward-flowing Grand River. “An English explorer named Hugh Heward did the trip in the early eighteenth century that some folks re-created a couple of years ago, eventually traveling all the way to Chicago along the [Lake] Michigan shoreline,” explains land protection consultant Barry Lonik.

The river connections spurred the lakes’ development as a recreation area, giving people vacationing on any one of them a wider choice of places to explore and enjoy than if they were limited to a single lake. As early as 1836, an actor named Gardner Lillibridge dreamed of developing a “Saratoga of the West” on Portage Lake, modeled on New York’s Saratoga Springs resort. Key to his plan was a steamboat for pleasure parties that would make a round trip from Portage, Base Line, and Strawberry lakes through what the 1881 History of Washtenaw County described as “the most romantic and delightful scenery ever seen in this or any other country.” Lillibridge’s ambitious plan included a lookout on what is today known as Peach Mountain (site of the ­U-M’s radio telescope), so visitors could see the grand view of the lakes below. He platted a quarter section of land into 125 lots, giving his streets names such as Dryden, Byron, Shakespeare, Haydn, and Mozart. If none of those streets is familiar, it’s because Lillibridge managed to sell only half of one lot.

Unlike Lillibridge, most of the area’s early settlers did not consider having a lake on their properties an advantage. They were farmers, and neither the lakes nor their marshy shores could be planted.

The pioneers who did end up with lakefront acreage made the best of the situation, sometimes cutting wild marsh hay for feed before they had time to put in a better crop, and in winter cutting and storing lake ice. Occasionally passersby would pay them for permission to take a swim or to camp on the lakeshore, but at that time roads were just Indian trails or at best wagon trails, so access was difficult. “Very few, if any, cottages, were to be seen along the banks as I remember, but now and then a ‘tent,’” wrote Moore of what he saw on his 1877 boat trip.

This changed after 1878, when the Ann Arbor Railroad reached Whitmore Lake and Lakeland (the village on the north end of Zukey Lake), opening up these two communities for vacationers from the Ann Arbor and Toledo areas and beyond. Train passengers could stay at hotels or cottages or come just for the day. Daily traffic got so busy that during the interurban railroad bubble at the turn of the twentieth century, there was talk of laying interurban tracks from Lakeland to Ann Arbor—a competitive threat the Ann Arbor Railroad blocked by running a gasoline-powered McKeen motor car on its own tracks. Nicknamed “the ping-pong,” it ran back and forth between Ann Arbor and Lakeland eight times a day from 1911 until 1924.

Once people got to Zukey Lake, they could access the rest of the chain by boat. Steam-powered passenger boats began running in 1897. The first steamer was named the Prudence Potts, after the daughter of its owner, J. W. Potts. In the 1920s Potts advertised that he also had camping sites available on three of the lakes.

Once internal combustion engines became reliable enough, people quickly switched to them, because they didn’t blow up like steam boilers could. For instance, Karl Guthe, U-M professor of physics, and his wife, Belle, used a “motor launch” to bring visitors to their cottage on Strawberry Lake; a 1917 photo shows one such guest, their niece Dora Ware (mother of Ann Arbor physician and historian Mark Hildebrandt). They also used the boat to pick up groceries at the store at Lakeland.
If motor launches were the lakes’ equivalent of limousines, then rowboats were the taxis and rental cars. Rowboat owners met all the trains and could take people directly to their cottages. Some of those arriving would be met by friends who had their own boats, while others rented them for the duration of their vacations. A 1922 promotional book, Valley of a Thousand Lakes, is full of boat ads—for sale and for rent. The Waters’ Pavilion resort in Lakeland promised “Motor boats, row boats and canoes for all,” while Fred Imus, also of Lakeland, offered motor boat livery service as well as boats for sale, explaining that “with twenty miles of navigable waterways open to you a motor boat is a constant source of enjoyment.”

Families who bought lake lots in that era didn’t always build a cottage right away, but often first camped out. Later, after their savings recovered, they built a modest structure, and later a more substantial one. Most cottagers, even if they didn’t own boats, had docks facing the lake so people could come and go on the water.

Base Line Lake also was named for its location—the east-west base line surveyors established for laying out the state runs through it. What is believed to have been the first cottage on its south side was built in the early 1880s by George Wahr, who owned two bookstores in Ann Arbor, and his brother-in-law, Charles Staebler, another Ann Arbor merchant.

The original cottage was one big room, which made staying there not much different from camping—though it did have a pump in the kitchen and a privy out back. The brothers-in-law enjoyed getting away with a group of friends, also Ann Arbor businessmen—the Haarers owned a pharmacy, the Arnolds a jewelry store, and Heinzman had an ice business—to play poker and fish. They later divided the cottage into two rooms so two families could stay together in semi-privacy.

Serious development at Portage Lake started in 1902, when a group of Ypsilanti businessmen formed the Portage Lake Land Company and set up a subdivision on former farmland on the lake’s eastern shore. The next year Pinckney resident Clarence Baugh created Baugh’s Bluff on the other side of the lake. Most of the buyers came from Pinckney, only three miles away. In those days, though, moving out for a summer season was quite a trip by horse and buggy.

As automobiles made travel easier, buyers began to come from farther away. In the 1920s the Chain of Lakes experienced its biggest real estate boom. Valley of a Thousand Lakes is filled with ads for lots, cottages, and resorts that painted lake living in glowing terms. An ad for lots on the eastern shore of Strawberry—“the Queen of Lakes”—assured prospective buyers that a “broad ribbon of hard white beach flanked by a forest of spreading elms and maples, a hard bathing beach suited for the kiddies, the novice and the expert swimmer washed clean by the incoming current of the Huron, all fanned by cool lake breezes, lend charm to this location.”
People who owned cottages often remained all summer—at least the mother and children did, with the father commuting evenings or weekends. During the 1950s, Charlotte Sallade and her four children enjoyed summers at Base Line Lake while her husband, George Wahr Sallade (grandson of George Wahr), continued his law practice in town but drove up every evening. Families who didn’t own a cottage could rent one and follow the same pattern for part of the summer.

Commercial developments, such as hotels and grocery stores, were found at each end of the chain—Portage and Zukey lakes. In 1931 Newkirk Birkett, owner of land on Portage Lake where Lillibridge had once dreamed of a resort, brought in 1,500 tons of sand to develop the Newport Beach Club.

Owned by Tom Ehman since 1966, and now called the Portage Yacht Club, it offers its members a wide variety of activities, including boating, swimming, and dining. When Ehman took over, sailing was the big activity, but today he notes that about two-thirds of the club’s members prefer pontoons or motorboats. Also at Portage Lake is Klave’s Marina, the only place on the Chain of Lakes to buy gasoline. It has been there since the end of World War II and is still run by the same family.
Lakeland’s biggest attraction was, and still is, the Zukey Lake Tavern, which opened when Prohibition ended. The original owners, the Girald brothers, used to take their motorboat down the Chain of Lakes, picking up passengers to bring them back to the tavern. Many customers still come by boat, and it’s a wonderful start or stop on any trip on the Chain of Lakes.

After World War II, construction of I-94 and US-23 made it easier to live on the lakes while commuting to work in Ann Arbor or beyond. Owners began winterizing their summer cottages or totally replacing them. Another big step toward year-round living came in the 1980s, when sewage systems began to be installed. In 2000 the Sallade cottage was totally rebuilt, so that Charlotte Sallade and her children and grandchildren can now enjoy it in any season.

Today almost all the rustic cottages on the Chain of Lakes have been improved or replaced. About half the residents commute to work—Ann Arbor is just a half-hour away, Lansing or Southfield an hour. Scott Strane, a thirty-year resident of Strawberry Lake, used to commute to a sports medicine job in Birmingham; he says he never minded, because “when we drive home every day, we are driving to heaven.” The people who don’t commute are mostly retirees who often spend the winters in warmer climates.

For people who want to relive the early days of the Chain of Lakes, Strane offers a three-hour tour on his pontoon boat. “Captain Scotty” models his itinerary on the original steam launch routes and narrates the history and natural wonders of the Chain of Lakes. He’s also willing to develop tours for special occasions. One cruise took members of a bachelorette party through the lakes, ending the tour, of course, with a meal at Zukey Lake Tavern.

Photo captions:

(Left) Dora Ware and other guests cruise the lakes in the Guthes' motor launch, 1917. (Below) visitors got to Lakeland on Zukey Lake via the Ann Arbor Railroad, then took to the water.

Ann Arbor businessmen and their families played poker and fished at the cottage built by brothers-in-law George Wahr and Charles Staebler on Base Line Lake.

The Saline railroad depot

Published In:
Community Observer, Winter 2006,
Winter 2006

Author: Grace Shackman

A hiking trail turns old tracks to good use

In the nineteenth century, the area around the railroad depot was the noisiest, busiest spot in Saline. Steam engines puffed in six times a day to drop off and pick up people and freight. Nearby were a busy grain elevator, two barns, a blacksmith shop, and a lumberyard.

Today the tracks are gone, replaced by a quiet walking trail. On September 24 a ribbon-cutting ceremony marked the official opening of the path that runs along the old railroad bed from Ann Arbor Street to Harris Street past the former depot, now a museum operated by the Saline Area Historical Society. Though the path is less than a quarter mile long, there's hope that it will be the fast leg of a much longer trail.

Saline's first train arrived in 1870 on the Detroit, Hillsdale, and Indiana line (DHI). "Detroit" and "Indiana" were both wishful thinking: the line ran only from Ypsilanti to Bankers, a little town west of Hillsdale. But it connected with the Michigan Central Railroad in Ypsilanti, the Ann Arbor Railroad at Pittsfield Junction south of Ann Arbor, and the Lake Shore and Michigan Southern in Hillsdale.

Although not a major line, the DHI was important to Saline, allowing local farmers to ship wheat, oats, apples, wool, and livestock to larger markets. Saline was the state's busiest shipping point for animals during the nineteenth century, says Saline historian Bob Lane. Livestock were herded down unpaved Bennett Street and held in pens on the south side of the depot. In 1875 the Saline Standard Windmill Company began making windmills and pumps, and the railroad made it a nationwide business.

The barn closer to the station is listed on maps as a hay and fertilizer warehouse. The other was operated by Gay Harris and Willis Fowler, who would buy wool from local sheep raisers and store it until they had enough to send a train car load to wool mills. In mediate nineteenth century Washtenaw County was the nation's leading producer of wool.

A windmill between the station and the first barn pumped water into an underground tank, and from there to a water tower across the tracks. Steam engines filled their tanks from this tower. Around 1900, an electric pump replaced the windmill.

E. W. Ford's lumberyard was west of the station, occupying most of the land from there to the intersection of Ann Arbor and Bennett streets. South of the tracks, Hy Liesemer's grain elevator faced Ann Arbor Street According to an 1888 map, it could hold 10,000 bushels. North of the tracks was Feuerbacher's blacksmith and welding shop, run by John Feuerbacher, who came from Germany in 1870, and his son Edward. The Feuerbachers also bought and sold scrap iron behind the shop, shipping it out by train.

During the twentieth century, rail service declined. The depot saw its last passenger train in 1931; shortly after that, the passenger lobby was removed. Freight operations continued, but in 1961 the depot was closed completely.

Today all that survives is two-thirds of the depot. The wool barn burned down in the 1940s. The hay and fertilizer building has also disappeared, as have the windmill, water tower, lumberyard, grain elevator, and blacksmith shop. There's a small commercial area where the lumberyard stood, and an auto parts store at the blacksmith shop location.

In 1980, after a few years of intermittent use by a couple of businesses, the old, dilapidated depot was given to the Saline Area Historical Society. It looked like a shack, but the society lovingly restored it and made it into a museum.

Today the entrance is through a door that was once the interior entrance to the station agent's office. The bigger room beyond the office, originally the baggage area, is used for displays and meeting space.

The historical society brought in a real caboose, which schoolchildren love. A ten-foot windmill, similar to one that was there originally, was installed as an Eagle Scout project. Across the tracks you can still see traces of the water tower foundation. The society's president. Wayne Clements, would like to move another water tower there or reconstruct one.

Where the hay and fertilizer barn once stood, the historical society has moved a livery barn from 101 North Lewis Street, where Orange Risdon. the founder of Saline, once lived. A real Saline Standard windmill is stored inside.

The idea of a walking path along the old rail bed percolated for years, but it took a while for the society to reach agreement with the Ann Arbor Railroad, which owns the tracks. In November 2005 the society signed a lease with the railroad, and the project quickly gained support; its backers include the health promotion group Pick Up the Pace, Saline!

To cut costs, the organizers abandoned plans for lighting and paving the trail and used some volunteer labor. Washtenaw County Public Health contributed $18,170 from a state grant. Saline CARES (a millage that provides funding for recreational programs) awarded $8,000, while the City of Saline agreed to help cover interim costs.

Heritage Lawn Care, a landscaping firm on Wagner Road, offered a discounted price for installation. The company created a walking trail alongside the tracks by clearing out trees and other obstacles, leveling the ground, installing a landscape fabric, and laying six inches of limestone on top. The finished path is suitable not only for hikers but also for bicycles and wheelchairs.

The area between the rails was also cleared and filled with larger stones. "We thought delineating the tracks would make it more attractive," says David Rhoads, who led the volunteer effort. Hikers can see the challenge the work crews faced by looking at how much vegetation has overgrown the remaining sets of tracks to the north.

The clearing also made it possible to ride the depot's one-person handcar, which train employees used to check the tracks. Rhoads and Clements plan to work on repairing the switch at the Harris Street end of the trail so that the handcar can make a round trip from the depot.

Future plans include adding benches and trash receptacles along the trail. The Saline Garden Club is preparing to plant a perennial garden made up mainly of native plants in a clearing next to the tracks. Other ideas in the talking stage include installing art along the path and putting in bike racks that look like steam engines.

The organizers hope to extend the trail east to the Saline District Library on Maple Road and west to Mill Creek Park. The western end would run near Brecon Village Retirement Community and pass a gorgeous trestle now hidden in the woods. Some neighbors along the route have objected, though, so the plan's future is uncertain.

—Grace Shackman

Turning the clock ahead in Dexter

Published In:
Community Observer, Fall 2000,
Fall 2000

Author: Grace Shackman

From car showroom to coffee shop

Before car salesrooms and gas stations were relegated to the outskirts of town, Ralph Kingsbury's Ford dealership stood on the corner of Main and Broad streets in Dexter. Today the building is the Clock Works Coffee house.

"It's as different as you can get in the same space," says Elizabeth Kingsbury Davenport, Kingsbury's daughter. The Clock Works, although located in the former dealership's post-Civil War Commercial Italianate building, manages to look very modem and airy with exposed brick walls, scenic watercolors, and generously spaced tables and chairs.

In Davenport's time, when her father's business included the main storefront, a garage on the east, and gas pumps on the west, this same site was anything but open: a single Ford floor model took up most of the showroom, surrounded by vats of car parts, barrels of freebies for the gas station, and cane-bottom chairs for people to sit on while they waited for their cars to be repaired.

Harvey Blanchard opened Dexter's first Ford dealership in 1911. Ten years later he started a bus line between Ann Arbor and Dexter using Fords. In 1926, in the last years of the Model T, Blanchard gave up the car business and Kingsbury took over.

"He always loved cars," recalls Davenport of her father. "He drove a Studebaker, but the Dexter Ford dealership was open and his mother bought it for him."

Kingsbury had graduated in 1912 from the U-M's railroad accounting program, the precursor of today's business school. He had been working for the Pere Marquette Railroad in Detroit when the opportunity arose. He moved to Dexter with his wife, Marian, who became the local piano teacher; their three young children, Elizabeth, Doris, and Stewart; his mother, Loretta Kingsbury; and his mother-in-law, Jennie David. They were later joined by his brother-in-law, William David—"Uncle Will," as Davenport knew him.

The new ownership was celebrated with a grand opening. The building was decorated with red and white flags furnished by the Ford Motor Company, and salami, liverwurst, cheese and crackers, and pop were served inside. According to Davenport, the fanfare was probably a bit "too much" for local residents. "They were used to a quieter approach," she explains. "It was a farming community. There were some prosperous farmers, but it was not a rich community. People lived simply. They played cards on Saturday night; they went to weekly dances or church suppers."

If the opening sparked any resistance among members of the community, it didn't affect the business, which grew big enough to employ three mechanics, two salesmen, and a bookkeeper. Davenport remembers her dad sitting at his Mission-style desk in the back of the store wearing a green visor and cooling himself with a palm-leaf fan. In front of him stood the dark green metal counter. With an old-fashioned cash register and a Philco beehive radio. Uncle Will, a short man who always wore a hat—either a fedora or, in summer, a straw boater—managed the two gas pumps (regular and ethyl), although "whoever was around did the gas. They didn't exactly line up for service," Davenport says. To keep customers coming, premiums were given for buying certain amounts of gas. Davenport remembers Depression Glass dessert plates, cups and saucers, creamers, sugars bowls, and salad plates, later replaced by lacy pressed glass that was a yellow-amber color, a light green, or pink.

The store itself was decorated in "Ford Motor olive drab," recalls Davenport. The company had a standard look for its showrooms and sent out posters of cars, large cardboard cutouts of cars, ad materials, and flyers, things that all Ford dealers were expected to use. The repair area (now a video store) was connected to the salesroom by a side door; it had roll-up garage doors on the street, an oil-change pit (hoists were rare in those days), and a back door large enough for cars to exit to the alley.

In the early days of the dealership, Kingsbury sold one car at a time—after a customer bought the floor model, he would order another. Occasionally a Fordson tractor or an additional car or two would be on display outside near the gas pumps.

Later Ford switched to a quota system, sending a car hauler with Kingsbury's assigned delivery. New models were celebrated at the dealership with blue and white triangular banners, while yellow banners were used for special sales. Davenport still remembers the day in 1927 when the Model A was introduced: "I went to the candy store and told them it went sixty miles an hour. They didn't believe me."

Once a month the Ford road man came and inspected the books, an event that Davenport recalls as "always stressful." Henry Ford's visits were even worse. He and his henchman, Harry Bennett, would park in front and "sit and watch," she remembers. "It was like God watching. We were paralyzed with fear and not allowed anywhere near them."

When the Great Depression hit, it was harder to sell cars. "Dad sold a lot of cars to U-M faculty and to his frat brothers or their friends. The repair work was for Dexter folks," recalls Davenport. Area farmers needed to keep their old trucks and tractors running and would sometimes bring them into the dealership "literally held together with baling wire. Dad had a soft heart and knew you couldn't farm without gas. Some people paid their bills with in-kind goods instead of money, a practice frowned on by Mr. Ford, but we ate very well," she says.

During the depression the car dealership was also the repository for surplus food, which was lined up against the west wall. People came in and signed for the food they took. "I was embarrassed that people had to come in and pick up food. I'd always make myself scarce when I could," recalls Davenport.

Kingsbury moved the dealership twice, each time to bigger quarters—first to the top of Monument Park in the building now home to Cottage Inn pizza, and then to the top of the hill, now an AAA office. In 1941 he sold the business to Al Gross, who had been a salesman with him from the beginning. Kingsbury took a job as bookkeeper at the Buhr Tool Company in Ann Arbor, where he worked until he retired. He died in 1976.

After Kingsbury moved out of the Blanchard building, it stood empty until 1944, when Art Lovell moved his appliance store into it from across the street. Lovell, an excellent mechanic, kept the garage as a car repair place and continued to run the gas station, although he changed it to a Dixie Gas station, supplied by the Staebler Oil Company of Ann Arbor. He used the storefront to sell Frigidaire appliances. As engines improved and cars needed fewer overhauls, he segued into doing more appliance repair.

Kate and Mike Bostic opened the Clock Works Coffee Shop in the building in 1997. They survived the first two years despite heavy construction going on around them. "Fortunately we're serving an addicted population," laughs Kate. In addition to coffee the Bostics serve morning snacks and light lunches. They are obviously filling a community need; people come in on the way to work, parents stop in after dropping their children off at school, and local merchants come in for lunch. In warm weather, people can drink their coffee at tables on the side of the building where the gas pumps once stood.

In one respect the present operation is not as divergent from the car dealership as it seems. Davenport recalls that when her father ran the place people came in throughout the day, some waiting for their cars to be fixed, others stopping in if they were buying gas or just passing by. Although the dealership didn't serve coffee (as many do now), "there were newspapers to read," says Davenport. Or, she adds, people would simply drop by, coming in to "sit and talk"—just as they do at the Clock Works today.

—Grace Shackman

Thriving on the Railroad

Published In:
Community Observer, Date Unknown,

Author: Grace Shackman

Most Washtenaw County towns were founded because of the potential water power nearby. Chelsea, in contrast, owes its existence to the early arrival of the Michigan Central Railroad.

When the Michigan Central passed through Sylvan Township in 1841 on its way from Detroit to Chicago, the present site of Chelsea consisted of four small hamlets, each of which had been started in the 1830's. The largest one was Pierceville, founded by Nathan Pierce at the current intersection of M-52 and Old US-12. (Pierce's house can still be seen at 14300 Old US-12.) On the north side of present-day Chelsea, in Lima Township, Nathan's brother Darius had started a town he called Kedron, after a river in Jerusalem. Meanwhile, two other brothers, Elisha and James Congdon, had settled on plots facing each other on either side of the present Main Street. The Congdons, who hailed from Chelsea Landing, Connecticut, called their settlement Chelsea and eventually convinced Darius Pierce to adopt the name for his hamlet, too.

In 1848 the railroad built a small station about a mile west of what is now downtown Chelsea. When this station burned down, the Congdons offered free land to the railroad for a new station. In 1850 Michigan Central took them up on their offer, a decision that guaranteed Chelsea's primacy. The same year, Chelsea became a post office, its first store opened, and the Congdons' land was platted. The businesses in the other settlements soon moved into what is now downtown Chelsea.

Thanks to the railroad, Chelsea grew and thrived. By 1881, according to Chapman's county history, Chelsea was the largest produce market in the county, shipping grain, apples, stock, and meat, and the largest wool shipper in the state. "With the exception of a day of exceedingly dubious weather. Main and Middle Streets are thronged with farmers' teams," Chapman wrote, "and the stores of these thorough-fares crowded with customers."

In 1891, Frank Glazier, son of Chelsea banker George Glazier, started manufacturing oil heating and cooking stoves in two buildings on Main Street. After a disastrous fire, he rebuilt on land north of the railroad station. He built on a grand scale, and the stove works' red-brick clock tower remains Chelsea's best-known landmark. Also active in politics, Glazier rose to become state treasurer, but was forced to resign in 1907, when it was revealed that he had deposited state money in his own bank and had pledged the same stove company stock as collateral for loans all over the state. His company went bankrupt, and Glazier served two years in prison for misusing state funds before returning to Chelsea to live out his life on Cavanaugh Lake.

Until ten years ago, Chelsea still had a small-town feel, with the stores on Main Street serving residents' everyday needs. But with the opening of a shopping center at M-52 and Old US-12, downtown stores started moving there, returning full circle to the original site of Pierceville. Almost overnight, downtown Chelsea became a more upscale regional shopping and entertainment area: The Common Grill restaurant replaced Dancer's, the quintessential small-town clothing store, and local son Jeff Daniels opened his excellent new theater, the Purple Rose.

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Bridge to the 19th Century

Published In:
Community Observer, Spring 2009,
Spring 2009

Author: Grace Shackman

Bridge to the Nineteenth Century: Can Bell Road's span be saved?

The Bell Road Bridge in Dex­ter Township is on the Na­tional Register of Historic Places. The plaque so designating it, however, is sitting in neighbor Bill Klinke's garage—because for twelve years the nineteenth-century "iron through-truss bridge" has been rust­ing away on the banks of the Huron River. As the Bell Road Bridge lies there, overgrown with brush and poison ivy, it seems impossible that it could ever rise up out of the muck again. Yet citizen efforts have already saved two similar bridges downstream.

In the last quarter of the nineteenth century, the Huron River was spanned with iron bridges at ev­ery mill town—including Dexter, Scio (at Zeeb Road), Osborne Mill (at Tubbs Road), and Geddesburg (near present-day Washtenaw Community Col­lege)—as well as in Ann Arbor and Yp-silanti. Another iron bridge crossed the River Raisin in Manchester.

The bridges came in kits, like giant Erector sets, the pieces sent by rail. Locals assembled them and rolled them on logs down to the river to place on abutments made by local stonemasons. They were a lot better than wooden bridges that needed continual upkeep.

Iron truss bridges, patented by broth­ers Thomas and Caleb Pratt in 1844, are supported by a series of iron triangles held together with iron pins. A "through-truss" bridge has a top section that helps hold up the sides. "These old bridges supported more weight than you would think," says Richard Cook, who helped save the Delhi Bridge downstream of Dexter. "They car­ried not just horses and wagons but heavy steam-powered agricultural equipment."

In 1832 Samuel Dexter, the founder of Dexter, and Isaac Pomeroy built a sawmill a mile below Portage Lake. A later owner added a gristmill, and the hamlet of Do­ver grew up around it. At its peak it had a church, a hotel, a store, a blacksmith shop, several dozen houses, and a post office. A drawing in the 1874 County Atlas shows a wooden bridge across the Huron there. But by the time an iron bridge was installed in 1891, the village was waning; Dover's post office was torn down the next year. The bridge was named after John Bell, whose farm was across the river. By 1915 Dover no longer appeared on maps.

The other surviving bridges also served mill towns. Samuel Foster, a miller from Massachusetts, answered Dexter's invita­tion to work at his mill in Dexter. Eventual­ly Foster started his own mill downstream, where Zeeb Road crosses the Huron; the village of Scio grew around it. Foster later built a second mill downstream at Maple Road. The settlement there, originally named Newport, became Foster's Station but was never very big. There was an iron bridge there as early as 1876.

Another iron bridge was built in 1888 at Delhi. At its peak this village, founded in 1831, was a railroad stop with five mills, a school, and a post office. The last mill was dismantled in 1906, and the stones from the mills spilled into the river, forming the rapids that are now the main attraction at Delhi Metropark.

During the twentieth century, the iron bridges disappeared one by one from the Huron, until only three were left— Bell Road Bridge, the Del­hi Bridge, and the bridge at old Foster's Station, now known as the Maple/Foster Bridge.

In 1992 the Bell Road Bridge closed for awhile after a drunk driver ran into a post. It reopened with a load limit of four tons, which made it impassable for garbage trucks, school buses, delivery vehicles, and fire engines. Its abutments were crum­bling, and in 1995 the Washtenaw County Road Commission put the replacement of the Bell Road Bridge on its wish list for the state's Critical Bridge Fund. Admin­istered by the Michigan Department of Transportation, the fund covers almost all the cost of repairing or replacing failing bridges. In a typical CBF project, the local government pays just 5 percent of the bill; 15 percent comes from the state and 80 percent from the federal government.

The road commission wanted to re­place the narrow iron bridge with a two-lane concrete span. Neighbors pushed in­stead to repair the old bridge, arguing that it was good enough for a small rural road, and that emergency vehicles could cross the river on North Territorial Road a mile south. They attended road commission, township, and county meetings, gathered hundreds of petition signatures, and got the National Register designation.

Eventually the road commission agreed not to replace the bridge. But in 1997 the bridge was taken down; its abutments were so weak that it was feared a spring flood might wash it away. It's been sitting on the riverbank ever since.

Three years later the same is­sues arose downriver, when the road commission decid­ed the Maple/Foster Bridge was unsafe and needed to be replaced with a bigger, stroriger span that could carry emergency vehicles and school buses. Again, neighbors ral­lied. They formed the Citizens for Foster Bridge Conservancy and raised more than $40,000 to hire an engineering firm. It re­ported that repairing the bridge was feasi­ble, though costly. Barton Hills, northeast of the bridge, offered to put in $250,000 from an escrow fund built up over years of refunds from state road repair money. (Barton Hills is a private village, and it pays for its own street repairs).

In 2003 the road commission spent five months repairing the bridge—replac­ing the timber deck, improving guardrails, and installing cable to strengthen the sides. Roy Townsend, the road commission's di­rector of engineering, estimates the total cost was about $800,000, so the road com­mission paid about $550,000.

Two years later, the Delhi Bridge was closed by the road commission as unsafe. Because the abutments needed much work, the cost of renovating the bridge would be even greater than for Maple/Foster—and there were fewer neighbors with deep pockets like the residents of Barton Hills. Still, a citizens group, the East Delhi Road Conservancy, raised $50,000 from the Kellogg Foundation and $10,000 from in­dividual donations and sales of lemonade and T-shirts.

An engineering study, paid for jointly by the road commission, Scio Township, and the conservancy, showed that the bridge was in good enough shape to reha­bilitate—if money could be found to do so. Then the conservancy discovered that Critical Bridge Fund money could legally be used to restore historic bridges. Al­though MOOT agreed, the road commis­sion was leery, joining the effort only after state representative Pam Byrnes convened a meeting with all the stakeholders.

In September 2005, when the Delhi Bridge was listed on the National Register of Historic Places, the way was paved for repairing it with CBF money. With 95 per­cent of the cost covered by the federal and state government, the road commission agreed to put up half of the local contribu­tion; the other half was split between the Delhi Road Conservancy and Scio Town­ship. When the cost of the projected repair ballooned to $1.2 million, Huron-Clinton Metroparks chipped in $15,000.

The last hurdle, paying for the upkeep, was cleared when the bridge activists gath­ered enough signatures to ask the township to form an assessment district. About 120 nearby properties will pay around $30 a year to help maintain the bridge.

For further protection, the group got the county to establish an East Delhi Bridge Historic District, encompassing just the bridge itself. This designation ensures that the bridge may not be changed or moved without permission of the county's historic district commission.

"It was a grind," admits Cook. "It took a couple of years, endless meetings, and beat­ing our heads against the wall." But he adds, "Very few get saved. We're very happy."

In fact, according to Townsend, this was the first bridge in Michigan to utilize CBF money for a historic rehabilitation. Because it was historic, the state waived the requirement that the bridge have two lanes. Instead, a traffic light will be put up, perhaps on side poles to make it less ob­trusive. The bridge is scheduled to reopen in June.

Only five Pratt through-truss bridges survive in Michi­gan, and three of them are in Washtenaw County. The restored bridges at Foster and Delhi are the only two still in use in their original locations. The fate of the third, the Bell Road Bridge, remains uncertain.

The cost of saving the bridge hasn't been calculated, but it won't be cheap— Townsend says the abutments would have to be replaced. If it ended up costing $1 million—halfway between what was spent at Foster and at Delhi—then the lo­cal 5 percent match would be $50,000.

Cathy VanVoorhis, one of the leaders of the Bell Road group, is still hopeful. She says that the bridge isn't in bad shape-that most of the rust is on the parts attached to move it, and that it's easier to work with on the ground. "It's not abandoned," she says. "It's a project sitting there waiting for funding."

Dexter Township supervisor Pat Kelly says she wants the bridge saved, but "it's not likely to be rehabilitated anytime soon. In these economic times, there is no way." Meanwhile, Bill Klinke is keeping the bridge's historic plaque safe and dry. "It was the least I could do," he says. "I was hoping someday someone would call and say, 'Let's put it up.'"

[Photo caption from the original print edition]: A 1936 photo of the Delhi Bridge in its prime; in contrast, the Bell Road Bridge sits unused and rusting, and its historic plaque is in a neighbor's garage.

[Photo caption from the original print edition]: A $250,000 contribution by Barton Hills helped save the Maple-Foster bridge, an important route into the village.

Willow Run's Glory Days

Published In:
Ann Arbor Observer, July 1995,
July 1995

Author: Don Sherman and Grace Shackman

During World War II, the Ypsilanti factory became a worldwide symbol of American industrial might. To get it built, Charlie Sorensen had to overcome red tape from Washington, skepticism from the aircraft industry, and his own quixotic boss, Henry Ford.


Author: Grace Shackman

For a century, railroads were the heart and soul of our towns.

In 1827 most people in Michigan Territory had never even heard of a railroad. But on Independence Day that year, village founder Samuel Dexter made a speech extolling the wonders of English passenger trains that reached dizzying speeds of thirty to forty miles an hour. Dexter’s vision of the future soon proved prescient: for much of the nineteenth century and well into the twentieth, trains would be the lifeblood of Chelsea, Dexter, Manchester, and Saline.

The Historic Bell Road Bridge

Published In:
Ann Arbor Observer, September 1995,
September 1995

Author: Grace Shackman

What do you do with a 104-foot antique?

The Bell Road bridge, which spans the Huron River a mile north of Hudson Mills Metropark, still has its original sign, "Wrought Iron Bridge Company, Canton, Ohio, 1891," clearly legible on the top bar of its Erector Set-like frame. One lane wide and 104 feet long, resting on a fieldstone foundation on an unpaved road, the bridge looks much as it did 100 years ago, when it carried loaded hay wagons from the nearby Bell family farm.

Gasoline Alley

Published In:
Ann Arbor Observer, October 2000,
October 2000

Author: Grace Shackman

Before Ann Arbor was a city of restaurants, it was a city of gas stations. “If there was a corner, you had to have a gas station on it,” recalls Jake Kooperman, who with his brother Joe ran several local stations from the 1940s to the 1960s. The first gas station appeared in Ann Arbor in 1918. By 1938 the town supported sixty-six of them.

Most stations were owned by big gas companies, which rented the buildings and equipment to local operators. Rent was either a flat rate or a few cents per gallon sold. “It was an inexpensive way to go into business and make a few bucks,” explains Kooperman. With “a couple hundred in your pocket [and] a little mechanical ability, you could succeed.” That was an attractive proposition during the Depression, when business opportunities were scarce.

“Most neighborhoods had a gas station with their own clientele,” recalls Ted Palmer, who grew up in Ann Arbor. “I knew just about everyone [who came in],” says Warren Staebler, who for many years ran a station at Packard and Arch and also worked at several others.

Though cars eventually transformed Ann Arbor, they were slow to catch on at first. “This is a peculiar town,” complained the city’s first car dealer, Edward Staebler, in 1906. “Our population is 18,000 and we have not over a dozen machines here. Half of those are used but very little.”

The first local drivers bought their gas in small quantities from local grocers--either from Staebler’s brother, Fred, at 120 West Washington, or from Dean and Company at 214 South Main. In 1904 both Staebler and Dean installed curbside pumps, but rising demand soon overwhelmed their capacity. On weekends, when drivers tended to go on excursions, the line of motorists waiting to get gas would often stretch several blocks, and a policeman was needed to keep order.

In 1918 Standard Oil opened the first drive-in station in town, on the northeast corner of Huron and Fifth Avenue (now part of the City Hall parking lot). The same year, the Staebler brothers organized the county’s first wholesale gas and oil company after a supplier threatened to cut them off. At first they operated out of Edward’s store, but in 1921 they moved into more spacious quarters in the old Philip Bach mansion at 424 South Main. The following year, the Staeblers turned their wholesale office into a retail operation by installing gas pumps on the mansion’s former front lawn.

The next year, 1923, Hortaio Abbott, a local real estate agent and postmaster (also, coincidentally, a Democratic activist, as was Edward Staebler), opened a rival gasoline wholesale company; Abbott would eventually supply ten Ann Arbor gas stations as well as others in the county. A third early local chain was the Michigamme Oil Company, with headquarters in its station on the corner of Huron and Division. Staebler grew the fastest, eventually owning eighty-three stations in southeast Michigan.

By 1928 Ann Arbor had thirty-five gas stations, most of them in or near downtown. (The exceptions were three stations north of the Huron in Lower Town, two west of town on Jackson Road, and Titus Schneider’s station on South Main, across from what is now Pioneer High.) It was not unusual for a busy intersection, such as Division and Huron or Packard and Hill, to have three competing stations.

Then as now, gas stations and car dealerships clustered near highways. But at that time, the highways passed right through the heart of town. East-west traffic entered Ann Arbor on Washtenaw and exited on Huron (the route still followed by today’s Business I-94). East-west traffic was not terribly heavy, however, because Michigan Avenue, the main road between Detroit and Chicago at the time, took a more southerly route through Ypsilanti and Saline. East-west traffic was further eased after Stadium, then called the “bypass” or the “cutoff,” was built in the mid-1920s, allowing drivers to pass south of downtown and connect with Jackson Road at Maple.

North-south traffic was a bigger problem, because anyone heading north to Flint or south to Toledo had to pass through downtown Ann Arbor. Traffic followed the route that is today Business US-23: cars coming from the south on what is now Carpenter Road would turn west onto Washtenaw, follow Washtenaw and Huron downtown to the county courthouse, and turn north again on Main Street.

Cars were often held up at the north end of town, where the narrow Whitmore Lake Road bridge crossed the Huron River. “If a truck and car were crossing at the same time, somebody had to put their wheels on the sidewalk,” recalls Maynard Newton. And even after they crossed the river, travelers were still not in the clear. “It was gravel up to Brighton and not in a straight line like [modern] US-23,” says Bill Lewis.

Washtenaw County’s first pavement was laid in 1918 on Jackson Road west of Ann Arbor and on Michigan Avenue east of Ypsilanti. In the 1920s, flush with cash from the booming auto industry, the state launched a huge road-building effort. Using convict labor, the highway department paved most of the principal roads leading out of town, including Whitmore Lake Road, Plymouth, and Washtenaw. Á

The changes required to accommodate the automobile ripped huge holes in Ann Arbor’s nineteenth-century streetscapes. Along main traffic routes, homes and business blocks alike were demolished and replaced by gas stations, car dealerships, and parking lots.

Cheap and easy to put up, gas stations became the signature buildings of the automotive age. The first ones were often primitive. Hoists weren’t invented until 1925, and not all stations could immediately afford them. Instead, mechanics climbed into pits in the floor to work under cars. Illi’s Auto Service, at 401 West Huron, still has three of the five pits used when the building was the Atwell and Son gas station in the 1930s. The pits are now covered with boards. “We had a robbery here once, and they pried the boards off. They must have thought we hid the safe under there. They must have been surprised when all they saw was the basement,” laughs owner Ray Roberts.

Some followed Staebler’s example of locating in old houses. Michigamme Oil Company had its main gas station in front of an old house at Huron and Division; Mallek and Hoppe’s first station was a little house where Jackson and Dexter merge with Huron. Others built small wooden or metal buildings alongside the pumps.

Concerned citizens, not just in Ann Arbor but around the country, began complaining that these hastily constructed buildings were a blight on the landscape. Gas companies reacted by commissioning more elegant designs. In 1925 Waldo Abbott built a gas station at William and Maynard designed to look like a Greek temple. A few years later, the Atwell station (now Illi’s) was designed to resemble a castle, complete with parapets and turrets.

Houselike stations were especially popular, on the theory that they could blend with residential neighborhoods. Paul’s Service Station, built in 1930 at the northwest corner of Ann and Fourth, was done in Tudor style, complete with a brick facade and slate roof (partially obscured by a later cinder-block addition, the building is now Adam’s Garden of Eden). The prettiest local example has to be the 1927 Tuomy Hills station at Washtenaw and Stadium, which local architects Lynn Fry and Paul Kasurin designed for Bill and Kathryn Tuomy. Built of stone in a style reminiscent of an Irish gatehouse, it was so distinctive that a copy of it was displayed at the 1933 Chicago World’s Fair. Today, owned by University Bank, it’s the city’s most elegant ATM.

Early Staebler gas stations were built in a Spanish style, complete with red tile roofs. Although obscured by later additions, the stations at the corner of Liberty and Ashley (now Dream On Futons) and Fourth and Detroit (now Argiero’s) still reveal traces of their original style. Other Mediterranean-style buildings included Erle Koons’s station on the southeast corner of Liberty and First (now Painters Supply & Equipment) and the stucco-and-tile Hunter station at Huron and First (now Fine Flowers).

Eventually, such elaborate attempts at disguise became a public joke. In the 1937 movie A Damsel in Distress, Gracie Allen visits an English estate and remarks, “It’s pretty enough to be a gas station.”

Changing fashions combined with economic pressures to radically alter gas station architecture during the Depression. With a growing number of stations forced to share a shrinking market, stations put more emphasis on repair services. Typically a station added a pair of service bays, one with a hoist and another for tire repairs and other light mechanical work. Space was also needed to sell auxiliary products, called by the trade “TBA” (for “tires, batteries, and accessories”).

Some stations added service bays to existing houselike buildings, while others tried to apply homely details to the new, boxier structures. The Sinclair station at State and Packard (now Bell’s Pizza) is a rectangular box decorated with turrets and a tile roof. But most companies opted for buildings that were easily identified as gas stations, completely reversing their initial goal of blending into the neighborhood.

In the 1930s and early 1940s enameled-steel facades became popular. Locally the Staeblers led the way in 1933, tearing down the Bach mansion and replacing it with an ultramodern enameled station designed by local architect Douglas “Pete” Loree, who also helped design the bus depot. The same year the Staeblers put up a duplicate at the corner of State Street and Jefferson (before the construction of the U-M’s LS&A Building, Jefferson went through to State).

Casey’s gas station on the corner of Huron and Fourth (now Vault of Midnight Comix and Rosey’s barbershop) was built in 1937 with glazed tile and appears to be another creation of Loree’s. Former owner Clan Crawford says that the late architect Dick Robinson told him that he designed it when he was just out of school and working for Loree. Unlike most other gas stations, it was designed to hold other businesses as well--an appliance store and a watch repair shop. “It was built to get rent until they could tear it down and get something decent there,” Crawford says, “but no one has.”

The major oil companies hired architects to design stations that could be replicated all over the country. In 1937 Walter Dorwin Teague created a rectangular green-and-white Texaco station with large glass windows that was heavily influenced by the International style. Texaco stations with Teague’s design soon became ubiquitous, and other companies followed suit with similar buildings, all with an art deco or streamline-moderne flavor.

Most of Ann Arbor’s remaining enameled stations have been covered up, but at the former Schneider’s Amoco (now Rainbow Creations) across from Michigan Stadium, the panels can still be seen beneath a coat of yellow paint. The distinctive square towers that once marked Pure Oil stations are easy to spot on Japanese Auto Professional Service at Main and Madison and Victory Lane Quick Oil Change at Packard and South Boulevard.

Station operators kept busy in their newly enlarged stations, because cars needed much more service than they do today. Not only did they break down more often, but also routine maintenance, such as oil changes and tune-ups, had to be done more frequently. Staebler’s station at Main and Packard lured customers by offering pickup service. An employee on a three-wheeled motorcycle would pick the car up at the customer’s home or business and drive it to the station, towing the motorcycle behind him. After the repairs were done, he would return the car the same way.

Stations also cultivated customer loyalty by offering premiums such as carnival dishes, glass tumblers, Pepsi, and trading stamps. Attorney John Hathaway worked at Warren Staebler’s station as a young man, and he and his wife, Mary, still have a set of Czechoslovakian Christmas ornaments from the station.

People who were around before World War II don’t remember downtown traffic then as any big problem. Ted Palmer recalls that it was even easy to find a parking place at the county courthouse at Main and Huron. “You didn’t have to drive around the block like you do today,” he recalls. “I used to drive an old Model T that I got for fifteen dollars to high school.” Although he often arrived at Ann Arbor High, then at the corner of State and Huron, at the last minute, “I could always park opposite the door.”

One big reason for the light car traffic was that trains were the preferred way of getting to other towns, even for people with cars. Freight also was usually sent on trains, not trucks. Many people in town still walked to stores and workplaces. And except among the very rich, multicar families were still in the future.
Gas stations held their own during the Depression, when, if operators didn’t get rich, they could at least eke out a living. Other car-related industries did not fare as well. Road paving stopped except for a little work done by Works Progress Administration crews, and car sales dipped very low.

During World War II all available materials and labor went into building war-
related products such as tanks and airplanes. Gas was strictly rationed, as were tires. Some stations kept alive by retreading tires. After the war, though, people made up for the years of abstinence, buying new cars as fast as they could be made. The surge in vehicle traffic hit Ann Arbor particularly hard, as thousands of veterans took advantage of the GI Bill to enroll at the U-M.

The resulting parking problem was temporarily solved by mayor Bill Brown, who in 1945 instituted meters on the streets to raise money for building parking lots and structures. But the problem of the increased traffic pouring through town as the economy picked up was not so easily solved. Bob Kuhn, who lived on Ann Street near the courthouse, recalls that big trucks hauling cars from Flint to Milan would “try to turn at Main and Huron and make a big clang and bang.” A woman who moved to a new house near Pauline and Stadium in 1955 recalls that she had trouble sleeping because the car haulers were so noisy. “They’d backfire as they went down the hill, day and night.”

“In the fifties the downtown was jammed. They were going through because there was no other way to go,” recalls Jack Dobson, who was a member of city council at the time. He and his colleagues were planning to solve the problem by routing traffic on a loop west of downtown, going on Beakes and Ashley to Packard. On the state level, legislators were discussing building a turnpike similar to ones being built in Pennsylvania and New York. All the discussion became moot in 1956 when Congress passed President Eisenhower’s Interstate Highway Act.

The act created an entirely new network of limited-access highways, with the federal government covering 90 percent of the cost and the state the remaining 10 percent. According to Michigan Department of Transportation records, Washtenaw County’s portion of I-94 was built in stages from 1956 to 1960, while US-23 north of Ann Arbor was built in 1957, with the southern part finished in 1962. “With so much work in a seven- or eight-year period, it’s all due at the same time for repairs,” remarks Bob Tetens, director of the Urban Transportation Study Policy Committee.

The expressways marked the end of the golden age of downtown gas stations. “One by one, they were sold,” recalls Kooperman. Small stations were the first to go. “The bigger ones could undersell little ones. They could get gas cheaper,” recalls Warren Staebler.

Even before the expressways, gas stations and car dealers had begun moving farther out of town, especially along Stadium and Washtenaw. As styles changed again, the surviving downtown stations made another attempt to blend with neighborhoods, using residential details like the mansard roof on J.B.’s Auto Service at Liberty and Second, or the Colonial cupola on Mallek’s at the Jackson-Dexter fork.

The other big design change in recent years is the return of canopies. Early gas stations usually had canopies as an integral part of the building, but in the 1930s architects began leaving them off, disliking the way canopies interfered with the clean lines of their enameled boxes. Canopies returned to Ann Arbor when Alden Dow designed the Leonard station (now Total) on the corner of Arbordale and Stadium. “Leonard was new in town. It was a brand no one knew. They had to sell the name, so they had canopies and cheaper prices,” recalls Harlan Otto, who ran the Amoco station in Ypsilanti for forty years. Canopies became nearly universal after the switch to self-service in the 1970s.

Total is now planning to demolish Dow’s station. Plans filed with the city call for replacing it with a new building with more sales space. Coming full circle from the days of Fred Staebler and Sedgwick Dean, most stations now make more money selling groceries and snacks than they do from gasoline.

Last January an Observer survey found that the number of gas stations in Ann Arbor had fallen from eighty-seven in 1950 to fifty in 1980 and just thirty today. As stations have closed, their buildings have been either torn down or converted to other uses. Former gas station buildings still standing, in addition to those already mentioned, include Copy Quick on Packard, Old Brick Quality Refinishing on Detroit, the Ann Arbor Convention and Visitors Bureau on Huron, and Econo-Car on Division. Many others have found new life as food-related businesses, including DeLong’s Pit Bar-B-Q on North Fifth Avenue, the Main Party Store, the Big Market on Huron, and Ali Baba’s, Jimmy John’s, and the Cottage Inn, all on Packard near State.

With a new awareness that pollution left by leaking underground tanks requires massive cleanup, building new structures on gas station sites has become more problematic. In 1990 the Washtenaw County Historical Society had to do a major cleanup on the former station site at 303 North Main before moving an old house from Lower Town to become its museum.

Several sites have been converted to parks. Warren Staebler’s old gas station on Packard is now Franklin C. Forsythe Park, named after the first president of the Jaycees. Liberty Plaza is a gas station site. Two other stations, the old Clark station at Division and Detroit and Ben Wilkes’s station at Summit and Main, are being considered for the same use.

Hey, were you looking for the Summer Game code? You found it! Enter CITRONSERVICESTATION on your player page.

Ann Arbor Buick

Published In:
Ann Arbor Observer, October 1994,
October 1994

Author: Grace Shackman

In 1930, Ella Prochnow quietly made history as the nation’s first female car dealer

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