Photo of the Day: Sept. 21, 2016 – A Brief History of Devil’s Dive Road

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After I posted my note about “The Hogsback,” I had several requests to write up something on Devil’s Dive Road, the road between Seven Hills and Peninsula Drive on which the recycling station resides.

Devil’s Dive Road may not seem too extreme now, but at one time, it had a super-steep drop as you were heading west towards West Bay, followed by a sharp left turn at the bottom, then another sharp right turn onto Peninsula Drive. Let me know if anyone has photos of the road way back when.

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And while the recycling station on Devil’s Dive is a blessing for all of us consumers, when I was a kid in the 1960s and 70s, there was a dump in that exact spot. And by dump, I mean a mammoth hole in the ground where everyone dumped all their crap – including all the farm pesticides, herbicides and other toxic chemicals. We’re talking the hard stuff – DDT, Malathion, Parathion, lead arsenate, copper sulphate and nicotine, among them.

And as far as I know, all those chemicals are still there in the ground. When the dump went away and was eventually replaced by the recycling station, I believe the dump was simply covered up – though someone correct me if I’m wrong on that.

I’m going to go out on a limb and say that land to the west of the recycling station – where everything flows downhill and where the Bowers Harbor Park expansion is in progress – is probably the most polluted ground on the Old Mission Peninsula.

Prior to the dump, there was a pond there, where my dad – who was born in Mapleton in 1923 – used to go swimming in the summer and skating in the winter. I believe there was also a gravel pit there that served as a home base for road crews working on Peninsula roads way back when.

Leave thoughts and info in the comments section below!

Bay View Insurance of Traverse City Michigan


    • Tim says yes, there was a gravel pit across the road, where your vineyard is. He says that was actually a bigger gravel pit than the one where the dump (now recycle station) was. He’s thinking it was probably at least four times the size of the gravel pit on the dump side. -jb

  1. The road had many curves and steep hills. The county use to dump waste oil on that road to control the dust before it was straitened and paved. I grew up on that road not far from the dump.The Dump was infested with rats and wild cats, the township burned it every Sunday after each week of dumping. I agree with your assessment that it is probably the most polluted land on the peninsula.


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