Thursday, September 18, 2008

A bump in the road comes up in the world

If you can't find Green, click on the map for a larger version.

After a long absence from the official road maps of the state of Michigan, the unincorporated town of Green -- population roughly 350, not including deer, bear and wolves -- has been returned to its former glory and will be listed on the 2009 Michigan Highway Map, thanks to the squeaky wheels of the denizens of the place.

This may seem a classic piece of local trivia to you, but it is important to me, for the Writer's Lair -- our Upper Michigan summer cabin -- lies within the town of Green. The cabin is also the home of Steve Martinez, the sheriff of my mystery novels, and so there is a certain sentimental victory in the cartographic re-establishment of Green, however minuscule a triumph that might be.

Green, a bump in the road on State Highway M-64 along the Lake Superior shore halfway between Ontonagon (Porcupine City in the novels) and Silver City (a k a Silverton), owns a storied history as a turn-of-the-20th-century lumber camp. With the disappearance of the lordly forest to clear-cutting, the place went into a long, slow decline, though it never lost much population if at all. There has been no post office since 1934, and not even a gas station or similar remnant of commerce survives.

But the descendants of those who built the town are still proud of its wilderness beauty. In 2004 they prevailed upon the highway department to erect two "GREEN" signs on M-64 at the town's outskirts for its centennial celebration, and now the highway map people have accepted the existence of the signs as a reason for putting Green on the map. (The other of two criteria for inclusion -- only one of which has to be met -- is having a unique zip code. Green shares its with Ontonagon.)

There is no better place to photograph the glorious sunsets of summer on Lake Superior.

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