Michigan City Road

In the late summer of 1803, the United States Military marched on an Indian trail which followed the shore of Lake Michigan, from St Joseph Michigan to Chicago, 90 miles. On this march they crossed the Grand Calumet river, encamped on the Little Calamac river and finally on the Chicago river. ("Fort Dearborn" D. O. Drennan, Chicago Historical Society). This is the destination of the trails marked P. From Chicago south, all trails begin as the Vincennes and so did the several branches of Trail P. One of these branches became known as the "Michigan City Road", it being the most natural route to that city, but all the branches after circumventing the Calumet lakes, rivers and marshes arrived at the same place.

On the Vincennes trail or road, at 83rd St, is the site of the Kiles tavern. Here in the days of the stage coach the old Michigan City road had its outlet. The road from here to Dolton is known as the Holland road and also as the Hubbard trace. All this, after means were supplied for crossing the Calumet river at Dolton, which Mr Johnathan Periam says was, at the least, 13 feet deep.

The Holland road began at the Kiles tavern on an ancient beach line of Calumet Lake running southeast. This was followed for a mile and a half to where State Street today crosses, there the road turns south with Michigan Ave. The ancient beach line soon appearing, but much higher. The road now follows the old bluff and Michigan Ave, which is the principal street in Roseland, in full view of Pullman and Kensington to the Calumet river where the bluff becomes a gravel ridge, bending with the river to where Indiana Ave crosses the Calumet. South of the river the road follows the ridge running southeast and at a distance of one mile the village of Dolton is reached.

It is at Dolton that we find the real Michigan City road and trail. The object of this road was to follow the sandridge between the Grand and Little Calumet rivers to Michigan City in Indiana. This sandridge at Dolton coming from the southeast is continued by high ground along the river to Blue Island where in the days of the Indian, trail P crossed the river at the rapids, at 135th St. The water here Mr Periam says was only two and a half feet deep. This accounts for the two trails running east from Blue Island. The one on the south to Dolton, and Trail S on the north toward Calumet Lake both passing through Indian camps as stated, the distance three miles, the bluffs here forty feet high, and good canoe navigation making Indian village No. 15 at Blue Island a center of the portage trails of the Calumet Sag region.

As will be seen by reference to the map that what we call Blue Island today, was the point and the Vincennes the Trail that circumvented the double and treble crossing of the Calumet river, marshes, lakes, and all. Trail T crossing Stoney Creek in the northwest quarter of Sec 26 town of Worth, just north of 123rd St, was the only alternative and was used as such.

Trail S from Blue Island and Trail P, the Holland road, form a junction at the great bend of the Calumet river at 127 St and Michigan Ave. Here is the David Peniam farm, located in 1837, and after 1869, the residence of Col. James H. Bowen. Here we find the ancient shore line of "the Lake of the Illini" extending north for several miles, east of which is a low plain, a mile wide, where no flint chips are found. At the northeast corner of the bend and on the sandridge close to the river stood the old log house of the Periam family, a little south of the present mansion. On this sandridge the old Michigan City road had its course. At 133rd St and Indiana Ave the buildings of the old Osterhoudt Tavern are still to be seen.

The location of the Indian mound on the sandridge is given by Johnathan Periam as east of the Calumet river at 130rd St between the river and the original track of the Illinois Central Railroad. Mr Periam says: "I was a boy 13 years of age when we first came here. We always found flint arrowheads along the east side of the ridge, which has now been cut away. The ridge extended down with the river for over half a mile. It was about 20 feet high with a well worn Indian trail upon it. When the Illinois Central was built they had to cut into this ridge. After that whenever they needed it they scooped out more sand until the whole ridge was gone. It was after 1860 when the mound was reached. Some of the bones of "poor low" had already reached the gravel train when I saw it exposed. Of course, it was no trouble to dig out a small brass kettle and such other relics usually found in Indian graves of which there were probably half a dozen." Mr De Vries who lives nearby well remembers about the mound being opened, especially about the brass kettle.

Mr Periam was chums with the Dolton boys who kept the tavern on the old Michigan City road across the river. Mr Periam says: "I knew Gurdon S. Hubbard well. The house he lived in on the Vincennes Trail in Thornton was a small log house near the Depot on what is at present the Stinson farm". When asked in regard to the canal between the Grand and Little Calumet rivers Mr Periam says: Gurdon S. Hubbard told me the Indian traders made it. This is the canal mentioned on the Hull map of 1812. An account of the Periam farm is also found in Andreas History of Cook County, page 603.