Generous locals taking pride in the city's beauty, businesses adopting German alpine architecture, and even the completion of the dike in the 1950s all helped to make Frankenmuth a tourist destination. But one often overlooked project literally paved the way for Frankenmuth's tourist appeal: The created of I-75.
Beginning in April of 1956, the Federal Aid Highway Act through the halls of Congress. By June the bill was signed into law by President Eisenhower. The initial bill allocated $25 billion in federal funds to construct 41,000 miles of interstate highways over the next decade. Our own trusty I-75 is one of those beautiful interstate highways that originated in this bill.
The technical name of this bill is actually the National Interstate and Defense Highways Act. You may wonder, why the word defense? Well, this system of interstate travel was primarily funded through the defense budget and was also used to directly connect the United States Air Force bases.
I-75 was fully open to traffic in Michigan by 1973, but the full length of the highway, from Sault Sainte Marie to Miami was finished in 1986. The highway runs 1,786.47 miles from the Canadian border into Miami, Florida, crossing through 6 states in the process.
The highway, for all its faults, does hold a special purpose for the town of Frankenmuth. Without it, travel to Frankenmuth would be much more difficult. I-75 replaced the old Dixie Highway. With the completion of I-75, Frankenmuth's boom as a commercial and tourist town was underway.
So, next time you’re cursing the minivan that just cut you off on I-75, just remember that you could be stuck behind that same minivan for miles on the Dixie Highway instead...
Garrett is an intern at the FHA and an undergraduate History major attending Saginaw Valley State University.
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