July 21, 2016
Muskegon, MI – State and local officials and tourism organizations will gather Monday, July 25 at 10:00 a.m. at Muskegon’s Heritage Landing to celebrate the designation of the West Michigan Pike as the state’s newest Pure Michigan Byway™. Speakers at the designation event include State Senator Goeff Hansen (34th), MDOT Director Kirk T. Steudle, Travel Michigan Vice President Dave Lorenz, and Michigan Beachtowns President Felicia Fairchild.
The West Michigan Pike was developed and constructed between 1911 and 1922 as one of the nation’s first “tourist” roads, designed specifically to bring vacationers from Chicago to Michigan’s West Coast to escape the sweltering summer heat of the Windy City. A full-blown tourism industry with lodging, restaurants, and attractions grew up along the West Michigan Pike and flourishes to this day. The communities along the “Pike,” collectively known as Michigan Beachtowns, include the historic communities of St. Joseph, Benton Harbor, South Haven, Saugatuck/Douglas, Holland, Grand Haven, Muskegon, and the Silver Lake Sand Dunes.
The newly designated byway, like all Pure Michigan Byways, follows the state’s trunkline system – I-94, I-196/US 31, US 31 and BR 31 – closely mirroring the historic route of the West Michigan Pike and allowing easy access to the Pike communities. The byway was added to the Michigan Department of Transportation’s collection of Pure Michigan Byways™ based on its intrinsic historic, cultural, recreational, and scenic values.
“State recognition of the West Michigan Pike as our newest Pure Michigan Byway allows visitors to the Pike to discover some of Michigan's most historically significant, culturally active, and naturally beautiful areas of the state,” said Felicia Fairchild, President of Michigan Beachtowns and Executive Director of the Saugatuck/Douglas CVB. “We’re thrilled to be able to share the stories of the beach communities of West Michigan with the world.”
Historically, every county and most communities of the West Michigan Pike offer a variety of historical attributes, with listings on the National Register of Historic Places (46) or State Register of Historic Places (116). Muskegon County has two (2) historic ships designated National Historic Landmarks. Eighty-six (86) State Historic Markers can be found along the length of the West Michigan Pike. Recreational opportunities abound with 8 state parks and fantastic Great Lake, dune, and forest vistas to experience, plus a plethora of cultural events held year-round along the Pike.
This new Pure Michigan Byway will also become a welcome addition to the itineraries of families, festival-goers, classic car cruisers and motorcyclists, with a variety of fine art, music, arts & crafts, food, beer & wine, and ethnic festivals held annually up and down the newly designated Byway route. The Michigan Beachtowns Association, administrators of the West Michigan Pike Pure Michigan Byway, is in the process of developing a Corridor Management Plan for the new Byway, which outlines tourism development, marketing strategies, and interpretation of the historic road. The Corridor Management Plan serves as a blueprint designed to build interest, bring new visitors, and aid in economic development opportunities along the Pike’s route in West Michigan. Michigan Beachtowns will be working with MDOT and the Byway’s three regional development commissions – the Southwest Michigan Planning Commission, the West Michigan Regional Planning Commission, and the West Michigan Shoreline Regional Development Commission – to prepare and execute the Corridor Management Plan.
For additional information on the newest Pure Michigan Byway, call the Michigan Beachtowns Association, c/o Holland Visitors Bureau at 800-506-1299.
100-year-old route along Lake Michigan designated as historic byway.