Transportation: A Key to Expansion

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Retrieved from Brighton Area Historical Society


Lewis Cass, as the territorial governor of Michigan, played an essential role in reversing the effects of the Tiffin Report, which stagnated migration to the Michigan territory early in its development. One of his major victories in doing so was the connection of water ways that allowed the Erie Canal to bring New Yorkers to the Michigan. This played a vital role in the initial settlement of the village of Brighton, as many of its first settlers came from New York. The new ease of access to the territory allowed Michigan to surge into a growth period called Michigan Fever.

Brighton was not excluded from Michigan Fever and the essential role of transportation.  From the very beginnings of the city, a stagecoach stopped in Brighton on it’s way from Detroit to Lansing up to three times a week (McMacken, p. 21). Travelers often stopped in the depots within Brighton, bringing outside commerce to the little city. As the age of the stagecoach came to an end, the times of the railroad plowed through Brighton.  In 1971, a new line was commissioned and stopped in Brighton multiple times daily (McMacken, p. 41). New train stations were built to accommodate the passenger and cargo trains that brought goods and settlers to the growing Livingston County City. The railroads also brought a sense of entertainment. Citizens often heard rumors about important people, such as Secretary William Taft, who planned to stop in Brighton (McMacken, p. 45). Such appearances drew large crowds and earned Brighton bragging rights over the other developing villages in Livingston County.

Lastly, Brighton was not exempt from the automobile craze in the early 1900’s. The development of the Grand River Trail, which runs through Brighton (now Grand River Ave), allowed for easy travel, especially with the introduction of the automobile. More importantly, following the industrialism and surge for workers projects after the Great Depression, the commissioned construction of US Highway 23 gave Brighton a significant spotlight in the realm of transportation. All of these ins and outs of the city surged economic and population growth that grew Brighton into what it is today.