The Meandering Michigan Shiawassee Trail

This another series of converging Native American trails in Michigan that roughly ran parallel to the famous Saginaw trail. An 1825 map of Michigan clearly details this minor trail. Starting near Detroit west of Fort Shelby and the Côté des Pays, ( County Side) road.

Shiawassee Trail Start Near Detroit
Map of the Surveyed Part of the Territory of Michigan. Made by Orange Risdon. Engraved in Albany, New York by Rawdon, Clark & Co, and published by Orange Risdon in 1825. – Courtesy Michigan State University Map Collection

The trail and ran northwest, passing first through the Tonquis’s Village in present-day Southfield. The trail continues northwest between the many lakes that dot the region.

Shiawassee Trail Near White Lake Michigan
Map of the Surveyed Part of the Territory of Michigan. Made by Orange Risdon. Engraved in Albany, New York by Rawdon, Clark & Co, and published by Orange Risdon in 1825. – Courtesy Michigan State University Map Collection

The Convergence of Other Trails on the Shiawassee Trail

In Highland Township, the Walled Lake Trail intersects and merges with the Shiawassee Trail. The trail continued northwest across the lower half of the Township. The trail passes close to Dunham and Lower Pettibone Lakes. Today the trail remains as part of Reid and Milford Roads in Highland Township.

Shiawassee Trail Near the Huron River
Map of the Surveyed Part of the Territory of Michigan. Made by Orange Risdon. Engraved in Albany, New York by Rawdon, Clark & Co, and published by Orange Risdon in 1825. – Courtesy Michigan State University Map Collection

The trail splits just north of Walled Lake, the location of an established Indian Village. The Walled Lake Trail veers further west by northwest while the Shiawassee trail continues roughly parallel northwest. Both trails cross the Huron River, an important transport down to Lake Erie. In the 1830s, the Buckhorn Tavern was built on the trail near White Lake, which became a mail and a stagecoach route from Pontiac to Shiawassee. Mail was first carried on horseback.

It should be noted that many crossing Indian trails intersect this area of today’s Oakland county. Both White Lake and Shiawassee trails continue to extending through the many Indian villages on the Shiawassee River. South of Bryon’s village, the Shiawassee Trail converges with another unnamed trail from Orchard Lake. The boyhood village home of Chief Pontiac.

Shiawassee Trail Near Bryon
Map of the Surveyed Part of the Territory of Michigan. Made by Orange Risdon. Engraved in Albany, New York by Rawdon, Clark & Co, and published by Orange Risdon in 1825. – Courtesy Michigan State University Map Collection

The trail is typically said to stop at Kechewondaugoning and Shigemasking (meaning “soft-maple place”), near Shiawasseetown. However, the map clearly shows at least two trails continuing north to Saginaw.

More Reading and Research on Indian Trails

The Two Verbs Project

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