Well before the election I had figured I would be better off doing a bicycle ride the day after rather than sitting at my computer and stewing over the results. Also, the forecast was for clear skies and mild winds from the northwest, which meant I could ride to the southeast where there still are a lot of township halls to visit. I hadn’t added any new ones to my collection since late September, at the end of my ride to southern Minnesota.
The winds turned out to be more from the north than northwest, and were also a little cooler than I expected. A mile from home I stopped to put on my jacket and a pair of full gloves, and also to take the above photo.
The day’s route is shown on the above map. It will probably be easier to view if you click on it to make it bigger.
After that first stop, I didn’t stop for more photos until I reached Tenkonsha Township Hall in the village of Tekonsha. it was my first time to Tekonsha other than riding past it on M-60. It was nice to see that there is a real community, with a main street, school, and a few businesses.
Judging by the flag, the wind was more from the west by the time I got here. The changes in wind and wind direction were very important when I was riding, but they are easy to forget afterwards.
After stopping at the town hall I went south across the St Joseph River and then zig-zagged down toward Butler. I had never made that particular crossing or been on these roads before. My usual routes in this direction take me several miles to the east, towards Jonesville, or several miles to the west, toward Coldwater.
Most of the sugar maples had lost their leaves by this time, but a few were still hanging on. The brightest orange I had seen all day was here.
Just ahead in this photo is the Butler Township Hall, in the one-time village of Butler.
About the time I was finishing up a couple of men came over to see what I was doing. They were surprised I had ridden all the way here (I had not yet got to the 50 mile mark for the day).
I asked what this building had been before it was a town hall. They didn’t know. As far as they knew it had always been a town hall. They did know that the house beyond the town hall used to be the store, and told me about a few other buildings in the village. I pointed out that a two story building like this is a lot for a town hall in a rural area like this, and that a lot of township halls used to be schools. I asked about the second floor – was it all open space? I was thinking of some old rural schools that had an open auditorium on the second floor, but also of some former store buildings that had an open space above for dances and parties. They didn’t know. The younger of the two men said he had never been in the building, but from the way it was lit up when the lights were on, he guessed it was all open space.
So I left it at that, hoping to research it further when I got home.
This old farmstead was on the other side of the road, just west of the township hall. The house appears not to be in use any more, but there is a wooden ramp leading to the door in front – probably a clue that the last residents lived here in their old house until they could no longer get around even with a wheelchair. One sees that sort of thing every so often in rural Michigan.
But maybe instead of taking photos of this place I should have been paying more attention to whatever was still standing further to the east – to the right in the photo. Plat maps from 1915 and 1930 show a school there – across the road and to the east of where the township hall now is located. One possibility is that the old Butler school was moved across the road and became the township hall. However, that’s not the only possibility. I’ll write more about that in another article. Maybe someone familiar with the local history will be able to help, too.
After leaving Butler I had to step up my pace to get to my final destination, Allen, before sundown. The last few miles were on US-12, which had a wide shoulder in Branch County. But once I reached Hillsdale County it narrowed to a point where it was uncomfortable when there was semi-truck traffic in both directions. The shoulder is in good shape, though – much better than the first time I tried riding on US-12 in Hillsdale County back in 1997 or so.
It’s hard to say whether I made it to Allen in time. There was no sunshine to light up the buildings – but I took photos anyway. The above view is facing west on US-12. the township hall and community center is the inconspicuous building with the Pepsi machine in front, in between the township fire hall and the two-story brick building.
Mileage for the day: 59