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Small towns, great dunes: MI authors share M-22 history

The beauty of northern Michigan's M-22 is showcased in the book "Vintage Views Along Scenic M-22." We talk with authors Tom Wilson and Christine Byron.

Michigan’s spring and summer tourism season is upon us.

As thousands of bumper stickers suggest, the M-22 highway offers views and access to some of the most naturally beautiful sights in the state. The roadway stretches for 116 miles along the Leelanau Peninsula in northwest Michigan.

Grand Rapids authors Christine Byron and Tom Wilson share their passion for the famed highway in their book, “Vintage Views Along Scenic M-22.”

Both authors joined WKAR radio’s Current State to discuss the book, and to talk about some of their favorite stretches of the road.

“I think it’s one of the most beautiful places in the state,” says Byron. “It’s got everything – beaches, dunes, inland lakes, forests, quaint towns, great farm markets, etc.”

M-22 won’t induce the same feelings that busier roads in the United States will.

“It means getting off the expressway and being on a road that helps you get in touch with you are,” says Wilson. “It takes you back to traveling the way it was in an earlier time.”

The highway begins near Manistee, MI - but Wilson considers Arcadia, MI as the opening spot.

“Arcadia is the window into the beauty that you’re going to see as you travel north,” says Wilson.

You may notice the influx of M-22 stickers on cars as you travel along the highway.

The untouched natural beauty that winds along Lake Michigan’s shore is certainly not a new discovery, though.

“The whole M-22 thing is not a new craze,” says Byron. “The D.H. Day Farm[in Glen Arbor, MI] promoted M-22 as part of the old West Michigan Pike, which allowed people to travel from the Indiana border to Mackinaw City.”

Three different organizations have formed over the years to specifically promote M-22, according to Byron.

Today, the Pure Michigan campaign handles most of the promotion.

“Traverse City and Leelanau County aren’t on a natural flow to anywhere – they’re sort of tucked in a corner,” says Wilson. “It really takes some promotion to get people up there.”

“Once you get there – it’s certainly worth the effort.”

Article by Ethan Merrill, Current State intern   

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