Historical Albion Michigan
By Frank Passic

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Any photos not otherwise credited are from the personal collection of Frank Passic, Albion Historian.

NEWBURG ROAD

Morning Star, May 22, 1994, pg. 7

A recent tragic accident where a woman was killed at the railroad tracks, and the description in the local newspaper of "Division Street and 231/2 Mile Road" had people scurrying to their county maps and wondering--where? Actually, Division Street is in the city of Albion, just north of the old Union Steel complex, by Hall and Maple Streets. The 231/2 Mile Road listing was a misprint for what the county calls 291/2 Mile Road. Had it been printed that the accident was on Newburg Road at Erie just east of Albion, everyone would have known the location immediately.

The confusion was caused by the county in the early 1960s when it was decided to abandon the "named" roads, and replace them with designated numeral "mile" roads. For example, "Duck Lake Road" is now "28 Mile Road."

Newburg Road is one of this area's historic roads. In the summer of 1844, Marvin Hannahs (after whom Hannah Street in Albion is named) built Newburg Mills, east of Albion along the Kalamazoo river, just east of Newburg Road. The iron for the structure was made and furnished by Augustus P. Gardner. The plant mill complex consisted of a grist and flouring mill, and a saw mill. According to Dr. Elmore Palmer in his 1908 Biographical Sketches, "There were three run of stone in the grist mill, andone upright saw in the saw mill. For many years after their erection...this was a favorite playground of the writer and neighboring boys. About a quarter of a mile below these mills, the river widened and the water was about 4 feet deep. This constituted an ideal place for sheep washing."

The Newburg Road area was a favorite swimming and fishing place for many years. An octagon house which stood until the 1970s was located on the east side of the road. Further south, there was a stone quarry from which the stones for the Stone mill, erected in 1845 by Jesse Crowell, were obtained. Today, that building is the City Bank & Trust Company in Albion. There also was an attempt in the 1930s at making a golf course along Newburg Road. There was a dam at the mill site on the east side of the road, and an old steel bridge over the river.

Newburg Mills burned down April 17, 1903. The bridge was broken during the late 1950s by one of those big, heavy oil equipment trucks that broke several bridges in the area during the oil boom. It was replaced by large tubes, with sand and asphalt over the roadway.

During the 1960s, the county began to place signs designating the road as "29 1/2 Mile Road" despite the fact that it had been Newburg Road since the 1840s. The numbering of the houses, however, remained in the "hundreds" which is reflective of a local "named" street, rather than in the "tens of thousands" which a county "numeral" road would bear.

Even more confusing is the road identification sign that says, "291/2 Mile Road" and "Division Drive." Everyone knows that "Division Drive" is actually ERIE. It is called Erie Street in the city of Albion, past the city limits, and all the way to Martin Drive where there is a sign clearly stating "Erie Street." However, at some unknown point, the road "officially" becomes Division Drive for about a half mile. It turns back into Erie Road at the Jackson County line. How confusing! The news reported stated "Division STREET," but the sign says "DRIVE."

So, people on Newburg Road continue to call their road by the original historical name, and refer to the other as Erie Street, not Division Drive. Perhaps it is time to eliminate that half-mile "Division" stretch and stop the confusion by putting up signs that say "Erie Street" and "Newburg Road." Contact your county commissioner today.

From our Historical Notebook this week we present a photograph of the Newburg Mills complex, and a photograph of the misnomer road sign at the intersection of Erie St. and Newburg Road.


Newburg Mills Complex.


Intersection of Erie and Newburg Road.

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