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History’s Gem of the Month - History of M77

Spring 2009

Although people started living full time in Grand Marais in the mid 1800s, the town really didnít grow until 1893 when the railroad was extended from Adamís Trail north to town. Within a few short years, Grand Marais was a thriving community with a couple thousand residents, as well as other transient workers that were employed by the lumber companies. They thought at the time that the vast woodlands around Grand Marais had an endless supply of timber. That was not the case. By 1910, the forests around Grand Marais were clear cut. Thus, the Alger-Smith company that owned the railroad took the tracks and their train with them when they moved to Minnesota.

A few families stayed in Grand Marais, despite its then isolated location. My family (Hills) stayed, as did the Niemi family. It was a hard way to exist, though, since there was no longer a railroad – and there certainly were no roads. During the warmer months, schooners supplied the town from lakeside. Sleds could also be pulled in the winter, except for when the snow was too deep for the horses.

Finally, with a lot of lobbying, M-77 was constructed in 1920 from Blaney Park beginning at M-12 (now US-2), and ending in Grand Maris for a total distance of 42.57 miles. M77 is one of only four north-south cross-peninsular M-numbered state highways in the U.P. During the 1950s, two sharp turns in the route, one 11 miles north of Seney at Lavender Corner and the other four miles south of Grand Marais, were bypassed with short segments of new highway. Also, in 1958 and 1959, the last two segments of gravel-surfaced M-77 were paved from Germfask to Seney and from Snyder Lake to Grand Marais.

Pictured below is a picture taken from the top of the hill in town, looking north. This photo was taken before M-77 was constructed. I’ve also included a map of M-77, and a photo of the termination point taken from Dan Garnell’s Michigan Highway Ends website.

Grand Marais North
Map of M77
M77 Sign


History's Gems Archives

May 2007
(The Telescope Story)

June 2007
(The Story of the Grand Marais "Meteor")

July 2007
(Hints on Hunting Glacial Agate Article)

August 2007
(Lake Superior Origin from 1957)

Fall 2007
(Tourist Information from the 1920s)

December 2007
(Lake Superior Editorial)

January 2008
(Grand Marais Tourist Signpost)

February 2008
(Unusual Wedding Invitation)

March 2008
(1915 Rules for Teachers)

April 2008
(Cedar Stump article from 1962)

May 2008
(Old Postcards)

June 2008
(Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore Proposal Proposal Proposal-Part 1)

Summer 2008
(Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore Proposal Proposal-Part 2)

Summer 2008
(Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore Proposal Proposal-Part 3)

October 2008
(Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore Proposal Proposal-Part 4)

November 2008
(Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore Proposal-Part 5)

December 2008
(Agate Leaflet from 1927)

January 2009
(Old Postcards)

February 2009
(Snowstorm Article from 1988)

March 2009
(Lake Superior Agate Poem)

Spring 2009
(History of M77)

July 2009
(Axel Niemi Photo)

August 2009
(Ship Travel on Lake Superior)

September 2009
(Hints on Hunting and Finding Agates)

Fall 2009
(Hints on Hunting and Finding Agates Part 2)

February 2010
(The Story of Grand Marais Part 1)

February 2010
(The Story of Grand Marais Part 2)

April/May 2010
(The Story of Grand Marais Part 3)

June 2010
(Box of Rocks Gets Diploma)

July 2010
(Shipwrecks at Agate Beach)

August/September 2010
(1958 Detroit News Article about Axel Niemi)

Fall 2010
(Reprint from the Douglas Houghton Expedition)

Winter 2011
(Old Postcards and Pictures)

Spring 2011
(1905 Grand Marais Article)

September 2011
(Michigan Log Marks)

March 2012
(John Keating)

January 2012
(Axel Remembered)

March 2012
(John Keating)

June 2012
(The Shark: Post 1)

September 2012
(The Shark: Post 2)

March 2013
(The Shark: Post 3)

August 2013
(All That Glitters. . .)

November 2013
(Excerpts from The Grand Marais Herald)

April 2014
(Souvenir View Book of Sault Ste. Marie)

September 2014
(Michigan Beach Stones)

February 2015
(Michiganís Mystic Dunes)

June 2015
(Vintage Grand Marais Photos)

November 2015
(Gitchee Agomowin)

June 2016
(Grand Marais Poems)

March 2017
(Logging Era Photos)

July 2017
(Jonas Hill Letters)

December 2017
(Seagull (Lost) Island, Grand Marais Bay)

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Gitche Gumee Museum.
E21739 Brazel Street
Grand Marais, Michigan 49839


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