Mark Twain Was Apparently Not A Fan Of Michigan’s Wooden Highways
As you may or may not know back in the late 1800s into the early 1900s, wooden highways became all the rage in Michigan, as many of the highways, including US 131 were once originally wooden. There's very little left of the original wooden highways except for some rotting remnants on the east and west shores of Michigan. But there is a rumor that has persisted longer than the roads themselves, and that is rumor that Author Mark Twain may have been the first notable person to tell Michigan to "fix the damn roads."
Mark Twain had apparently been on a tour in the Midwest and took the 131 highway from Kalamazoo to Grand Rapids, and afterward, was apparently asked about what he thought of the highway he took to get there and as Troy Historic Village recalls, he basically told them Michigan needed to fix the damn roads:
Plank roads were a nice improvement…for three or four years after they were built. But then they needed frequent maintenance. They soon became plank-and-gravel roads as the wood decayed or warped and gaps were filled with less-costly gravel, creating a washboard-like driving surface. Mark Twain’s impression of the Kalamazoo and Grand Rapids Plank Road was that “It would have been good if some unconscionable scoundrel had not now and then dropped a plank across it.”
It's a shame Mark Twain didn't get a chance to discover what construction season is like. If he thought our roads back then were bad, he'd be the spokesperson today.