Michigan’s Historic Territorial Road Has Completely Disappeared in Some Places
Territorial Road may be the most historic crossing of the state, but unless you venture off of the interstate you may have never traveled on it.
Your ability to drive the Territorial Road may also depend on where you are. Some cities and counties fully sign the road while others have seemingly wiped it from the maps.
As the name implies the Territorial Road was established while Michigan was a territory. The road dates back to 1829, nearly a decade before statehood was established in 1837.
The road runs through the "second tier" of counties across the state, Wayne to Berrien.
Counties like Van Buren, Berrien and Calhoun make special note of the old road while other counties like Kalamazoo appear to have largely let the name lapse.
Starting in the west (truly the terminus of the road as it was established to blaze a trail westbound across the state), there is a monument to the end of the road in St Joseph along State Street near Port and Ship streets.
However, Territorial Road itself is not signed in St Joe. It is, however, a prominent street in neighboring Benton Harbor. Territorial Road today ends at Water Street, near Pipestone and Main Streets.
Leaving Benton Harbor, Territorial Road is signed across Berrien County. Likely no county gives Territorial Road as much love at Van Buren County. The county signs the road well, particularly around Keeler where another monument to the road exists. The photo above is from a jog in Territorial Road in Keeler.
The Territorial Road does peter out in Van Buren County near the flea market near Paw Paw as the pathway of the road joins Red Arrow Highway.
Territorial Road is fully forgotten by Kalamazoo County. Red Arrow Highway becomes Stadium Drive at the Van Buren/Kalamazoo line and Territorial Road does not appear anywhere in the county.
In Calhoun County, Territorial Road exists in Battle Creek running from the airport/Helmer Road to Riverside Drive. Another monument to the road exists along this stretch.
North of Jackson, Territorial Road reemerges near Rives Junction. Portions of the road can be followed all the way from Jackson County through Washtenaw County to the suburbs of Detroit. The last portion of the signed Territorial Road is in Plymouth in Wayne County.
Likely the best history and narrative of Territorial Road today comes from Chuck Jager whose Pedaling the Pioneer Path: A Journey Down Michigan's Territorial Road relates a bike ride across the state on every part of Territorial that is driveable.
Looking to do more traveling across Michigan? Check out these must-drive roads.