2017-10-12 / Front Page

US-2 Designated as Scenic Byway

By Erich T. Doerr


A ceremonial ribbon cutting was held at Naubinway’s Top of the Lake Snowmobile Museum Friday afternoon, October 6, for the new US- 2 Top of the Lake Pure Michigan Byway running from St. Ignace to Manistique and Thompson. The Top of the Lake Communities Association championed the push for the scenic byway designation and its president Dean Brodberg was given the honor of cutting the red ribbon. Here, its two halves fall off to the side in the moment after the cut was made. The ceremony included (from left) Top of the Lake Snowmobile Museum Chair Charlie Vallier, Hiawatha Pasties owner Sam Reck, Adoba Hotel Naubinway hotelier Leslie Chapman, communities association member and snowmobile museum volunteer John Batchelder, Mr. Brodberg, Eastern Upper Peninsula Regional Planning and Development’s Rebecca Bolen, communities association member Merle Edwards, and Beary Patch Restaurant owner Ethel Toms. A ceremonial ribbon cutting was held at Naubinway’s Top of the Lake Snowmobile Museum Friday afternoon, October 6, for the new US- 2 Top of the Lake Pure Michigan Byway running from St. Ignace to Manistique and Thompson. The Top of the Lake Communities Association championed the push for the scenic byway designation and its president Dean Brodberg was given the honor of cutting the red ribbon. Here, its two halves fall off to the side in the moment after the cut was made. The ceremony included (from left) Top of the Lake Snowmobile Museum Chair Charlie Vallier, Hiawatha Pasties owner Sam Reck, Adoba Hotel Naubinway hotelier Leslie Chapman, communities association member and snowmobile museum volunteer John Batchelder, Mr. Brodberg, Eastern Upper Peninsula Regional Planning and Development’s Rebecca Bolen, communities association member Merle Edwards, and Beary Patch Restaurant owner Ethel Toms. The drive from St. Ignace to Manistique along US-2 has always been a beautiful one with the road paralleling the northern shore of Lake Michigan for much of the journey, passing through small communities and by numerous scenic vistas along the way. The beauty of the area was recognized in Naubinway Friday, October 6, at the Top of the Lake Snowmobile Museum as the 92-mile stretch of highway was officially designated as the US-2 Top of the Lake Pure Michigan Byway. The dedication included an official ribbon cutting for the new byway and several speeches from officials who supported the designation.


At right: The drive offers many scenic vistas as the road travels along the northern shore of Lake Michigan offering a variety of sights and attractions. This public beach is located just east of Naubinway. At right: The drive offers many scenic vistas as the road travels along the northern shore of Lake Michigan offering a variety of sights and attractions. This public beach is located just east of Naubinway. More than 40 people were in attendance. Top of the Lake Communities Association President Dean Brodberg served as the master of ceremonies and cut the ceremonial ribbon. The association sponsored the effort to bring the Pure Michigan designation to the road.


Much of the scenie byway route runs alongside the northern shoreline of Lake Michigan, including this section where traffic can be seen Friday travelling through a sand dune area alongside the beach between St. Ignace and Brevort. Much of the scenie byway route runs alongside the northern shoreline of Lake Michigan, including this section where traffic can be seen Friday travelling through a sand dune area alongside the beach between St. Ignace and Brevort. Several signs designating the byway have already been put up, including one in St. Ignace on US-2 just east of I- 75, another near Cheeseman Road, two at the intersection with M-117, two at the intersection with M-77, two in Manistique, and one in Thompson, in addition to the one placed at the front of the snowmobile museum. Another will soon go up in St. Ignace near Castle Rock at the end of the I-75 Business Loop once a road construction project there is completed. The ribbon cutting took place in front of the museum alongside its Pure Michigan Byway sign.

“The signs are up,” MDOT Superior Regional Engineer Aaron Johnson of Escanaba said. “They look great.”

Mr. Johnson believes the new designation is the perfect example of collaboration that characterizes the area. He likes how the local communities have friendly rivalries in areas like high school sports, but drop them in an instant to work together for their betterment. The designation opens the door for the area to receive more state and federal funding for its efforts.

Michigan now has more than 1,000 miles scenic byway designated on its trunk lines across the state. The designation promotes travel, tourism, and the preservation of the area’s resources. It also enhances the image of US-2 with the goal of improving the area’s economy through additional tourism and more jobs.

Mr. Brodberg noted that a lot of work went into realizing this goal. He said the Michigan Department of Transportation (MDOT) was a big help during this project, thanking MDOT as several of its employees attended the ceremony. He also recognized Rebecca Bolen of Eastern Upper Peninsula Regional Planning and Development. Tom O’Boyle and his PBS television show “Great Get- aways,” focused on Midwest and Canadian travel, provided footage they filmed on the St. Ignace-to- Manistique road toward the effort. Mr. O’Boyle was in attendance for the ceremony.

Mr. Brodberg credited the success of the communities association’s byway campaign to three individuals: Bruce Gustafson, the one who first proposed it, John Batchelder, a retired MDOT area manager now working with the communities association, and Naubinway hotelier Leslie Chapman.

Mr. Batchelder said it felt good to finish the process. The first motions were made to pursue it in January 2016. The campaign to get the designation was supported by 22 local communities and organizations, including the City of St. Ignace, City of Manistique, the Sault Ste. Marie Tribe of Chippewa Indians, Moran Township, Hendricks Township, Garfield Township, Hudson Township, Manistique Township, Mueller Township, Newton Township, Thompson Township, Doyle Township, St. Ignace Chamber of Commerce, St. Ignace Kiwanis Club, St. Ignace Events Committee, Mackinac Luce-Schoolcraft Counties Farm Bureau, Luce West Mackinac County Fair, the Hiawatha Sportsman’s Club, United States Forest Service, MDOT, and EUP Regional Planning and Development.

Dave Nyberg represented the office of Governor Rick Snyder at the event and sent the community congratulations on behalf of Mr. Snyder. Mr. Nyberg said he grew up in Gladstone and often drives US-2 when going home for holidays.

“I knew I was home when I was driving US-2,” Mr. Nyberg said. “I couldn’t think of a more appropriate scenic byway.”

Daniel Litzner, the husband of St. Ignace Mayor Connie Litzner, represented the City of St. Ignace at the ceremony. He said that Mrs. Litzner sees the new designation as a great way to link local communities and market all of their assets together. Mr. Litzner noted local attractions along the road like the Heath Michael Robinson Cut River Memorial Bridge, the Sand Dunes beach area in Moran Township alongside Lake Michigan, and the annual fall colors as the leaves change. He recalls how a site along the route got a shout-out in the postcard-themed opening credits of 1983 movie “National Lampoon’s Vacation,” as the film specifically includes a shot of the St. Ignace Mystery Spot among other scenes of roadside attractions from across the United States.

Manistique City Manager Sheila Aldrich said the Pure Michigan byway is great for the area and she is eager to see future benefits from the desgination.

“This is truly a remarkable achievement,” Mackinac Economic Alliance Director Alex Iseri added. “I think this will be a great asset going forward.”

The ceremony was held at the snowmobile museum because of its role as a meeting place for the Top of the Lake Communities Association. It is also located at almost the halfway point between St. Ignace and Manistique.

Museum Chair Charlie Vallier was pleased with the turnout for the event and expects the new designation will benefit the museum by bringing more traffic down US-2. Museum manager Marilyn Vallier added that the museum gets a lot of walk-in traffic from people who see their signs.

The local residents attending the ceremony included Paul and Donna Zarb. The couple splits time between Naubinway and Milford and has driven the scenic byway many times throughout the years. They came to support the community’s efforts.

“That’s a fantastic drive,” Mr. Zarb said, noting he and Mrs. Zarb have favorite places along the way for hamburgers and pasties.

Mr. Batchelder said that now that the byway designation is official, local organizations could start work on a corridor management plan. The committee of the whole organization that will carry out this work will include officials from St. Ignace, Manistique, several of the townships, the U.S. Forest Service, and the sportsman’s club. The group will take an inventory of all the area’s attractions, scenic parks, and notable natural features like the sand dunes and begin work on a Web site and social media efforts to try to draw more people to the area. The Top of the Lake Communities Foundation takes its name from location at the absolute most northern point of Lake Michigan, just east of downtown Naubinway.

The route runs 92 miles, starting in downtown St. Ignace and going all the way through Manistique before concluding in Thompson. The communities the road passes through include Brevort, Epoufette, Gould City, and Gulliver in addition to Naubinway. Following the creation of the new Top of the Lake byway the state now has 21 Pure Michigan byways including 1,152 miles of trunk line.

US-2 was chosen for the byway program on the basis of its outstanding scenic and recreational qualities including plenty of campgrounds, all-season activities, and roadside parks for enjoying the shoreline vistas.

The road is built on the traces of an ancient Native American trade route, winding along tall bluffs and deserted beaches.

The Pure Michigan Byways program is an evolution of the former Michigan Heritage Route campaign that began in 1993 as a way for uniting residents, government officials, landowners, and other groups to preserve the state’s scenic, historic, and recreational roads.

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Those of us born and raised

Those of us born and raised near the roadway are not conscious of the distinct beauty of this segment. We were, or are, just part of this historical piece. But since I am now a troll and just a visitor to my Engadine origins, I am aware of US 2's unique beauty. I deeply appreciate its beauty.

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