Unmatched as a trite cliché, The Road Less Traveled, is a shallow description for the experienced warrior, but hang on to little Willie for this one. Several years ago, the Detroit Free Press featured the least traveled state highway in Michigan, the upper peninsula’s very own M-48. Stretching 22 miles (roughly the distance from San Clemente, CA, to Catalina Island only without the water) M-48 begins at a T-intersection, south of nowhere at M-134, meandering along a twisted pathway and terminating, northwest of nowhere at M-129.
Those DOT counters, the dual black rubber hoses stretched across the highway, calculated the high number in the summer, upward of 200+ vehicles a day. Conversely, the low number during the desolate frigid winters, as low as 20 per day.
Think about it, less than 1 car per hour on a major highway.
Two ‘communities’, Goetzville, MI ( pop. 47) and the nearly extinct Stalwart, MI ( pop. 9) are dots on the bucolic landscape; rolling hills, cedar forests, abandoned outbuildings, centennial homes, wild turkeys,
Two Toms, roadside, in a dominance display
and endless cylinders of harvested timothy hay
The hay, prized feed for Florida’s thoroughbred horse industry, has high nutrient, mineral, and fiber content with little moisture = healthy nutrition and manageable manure output. No B.S. here.
Agriculture is harsh and unprofitable, north of 45° parallel due to
- short growing season
- near zero topsoil
- substrate of limestone
Fishing (salmon and whitefish), the hay, and cedar lumber remain the staple agronomy.
We rode today to the traditional Thanksgiving dinner presented by the Presbyterian Church women and the rural Stalwart Fair, highlighted in a 2009 entry accompanied by the first family of Airstream.
The 105 year tradition is endearing for its simplicity. No irritating calliope carnival midway noise pollution, youngsters quietly display poultry, rabbits, bleeting goats, beef and dairy cattle. Green thumbs thrive on the vegetable competition and elderly ladies handcraft quilts, crafts, homemade cookies, pies, and jams. Horseshoe tournament, pet show, and draft horses pulling three ton sleds,
Tension and drama on the prairie
it could be, with little imagination, September 1910. Stalwart once had 2 grocery stores, a post office, and 3 schools. Now the small fairground, the church, abandoned post office and cemetery, and a few scattered houses are all that remain.
Fixer uppers and an entry greeting to a centennial farm
The people who have endured farming here for more than a hundred years deserve much more than a plaque. And, below, as always, hidden partially by overgrown brush, vintage aluminum awaiting reincarnation.
Needs attention and a little TLC