Monday, March 12, 2012

The Lost Village

Welcome to my little town. Waldenburg is an unincorporated village that has been swallowed up by the neighboring village and became the township that I officially live in.
When I moved here 17 years ago, you could still see much of the old village. The housing boom in the late 90's covered much of the once fertile farm land with McMansions that no one can afford. There are still a few small pieces still visible today however. One of those is this little hardware store. In my time of living here, I have witnessed this store closing as the road in front of it grew. What once was an intersection of a two lane paved road and an old dusty dirt road, has become a major intersection with multiple lanes in each direction and a complicated signal light. The proximity of this store and the general store on the opposite corner, to the road makes this corner very dangerous for those that are not paying attention.

The general store once was the original home of a local furniture store in the county and has living quarters upstairs, as most stores from the turn of the last century did. The furniture store has since moved and then was bought out by a larger firm. We are left with this beautiful old building that sits only feet off the newly expanded road.

I suppose we can expect that the hardware store will be going away soon as they have built a large strip center behind it and the Waldenburg Bar that shares it's parking lot.

The settlers of the area only arrived in the early 19th century looking for fertile land to farm. And our little village came into existence a year before Michigan became a state in 1835. In the early years, the area was stripped of it's timber for the construction of the growing cities of Mount Clemens and Detroit. The road that passes through town and in front of these stores is known as Romeo Plank Road because it follows along the river that runs from the village of Romeo to Mount Clemens. As the logs were cut up river and milled in a nearby mill that I have shown in a previous post, it was easy to build and maintain a plank style road. Simply grabbing supplies out of the river as it floated by. Plank roads could be found all over America and were not the smoothest things to drive on and so quickly lost their popularity to the cement we know today. (For those that don't know, the worlds first paved road for cars is right here in Detroit; Woodward Avenue) In the early to mid 20th century, the area grew many flowers including Roses and Lillies to be sold at Detroit's famed Eastern Market. The wild Lillies still grow in all the ditches around the area. But as time marched on, the focus grew more on sod farms to supply grass for the wealthy homes all around the Detroit area. Naturally, with the beautiful fields of flowers and grass, wealthy folk from the city started to drive out for a look. That's when the golf courses started to be built. A few years ago I had 5 golf courses within 2 miles of my home. Two of those have given way to over-sized  homes.

Behind this early 20th century church and the cemetery that accompanies it, along the banks of the river that once transported timber, is Pugsley's favorite park. He loves the trails to hike on and this is the place where (when there's no children) he loves to play on the slide.

The park is built where an old farm used to sit when I first moved here. Much of it has been left to nature, and you can see that it is quite swampy. That's probably why Pugsley loves it so much.

Right about where the sign sits today, welcoming residence into the park is where I lost my convertible in a flash flood, the day after I paid it off. That was also the day before the farmer left the land to the township. It's a beautiful park. Just don't come right after the rain.

I hope that you've all enjoy this tour of my little lost village. Stop by any time.


Jim said...

Stew thanks for the tour and history of your town. I love hearing/learning about what came before us. History was always my favourite subject and still is! Woodward Ave, eh? First paved road!! Makes sense since Detroit was the centre for the universe for automobiles!

No wonder Pugsley loves that Park!! Sophie would FREAK seeing all that water after a rain! They'd have a ball.

oneSAHDdude said...

I didn't realize you have been over there so long! I spent my teens and early 20s in Rivergate. As you can attest, the Hall Rd corridor is completely unrecognizable from that era. I learned to drive a car on the former dirt roads, amongst the farms, east of Waldenburg. Remember when Denewith's had strawberry fields on the south side of 22? When I drive through the area it isn't even familiar to me anymore :-(

Bah! Urban sprawl!

Stew said...

I had an apartment on Hall Rd before my house was done. I used to make a left onto the two lane road that is now eight lanes. I do remember the strawberry fields! And Berz/Macomb Airport at 22&Hayes.
Yeah, completely different now.

oneSAHDdude said...

That reminds me of what a PITA it was to make a left into Macomb College back then. Sometimes I used to drive all the way around the back of the sub then come back around and 19 Mile just so I didn't have to sit there :-)