New B2B trail segment holds piece of Chelsea history





By Seth Kinker, skinker@thesuntimesnews.com

At the end of May, a new bridge for a 2.1-mile segment of the Border-to-Border (B2B) trail beginning at Freer Road and ending at Lima Center Road was installed.

Just south of Dexter-Chelsea road and west of Fletcher road, the B2B trail allows non-motorized traffic a path from Freer Road almost to Lima Center Road.

Photo provided by Jason Eyster.

In the midst of trail construction, five large concrete pyramid foundations were found east of the construction site. They are between 5-7 feet tall but only a couple of feet were sticking out of the ground.



The pyramid structures discovered while installing the latest segment of the B2B trail. Photo provided by Roy Townsend.

After reaching out to the local community, Roy Townsend, a project manager for Washtenaw County Parks and Recreation Commission, got to the bottom of the mystery.

“The guy that runs the grain elevator sent me a video that showed that it used to be a water trough that steam locomotives would use,” Townsend told The Sun Times. “They’d pick up water on the run and that was the section where they had water under the tracks so they could pick it up. In the video, there was a water tower in the background and it was right from the grain elevator, around the 1940s.”

“And then down the street, a family bought that land, the Downer’s, basically since the 1830s they’ve owned it,” added Townsend. “The gentlemen there said, ‘oh that’s from the water tower.’ So, two people kind of confirmed it. Someone that has lived out here a long time and then the grain elevator people that gave us that video footage on YouTube.”

Water, taken from nearby 4 Mile Lake, was stored in the water tower, and then used by steam engines. Belly loading water without having to stop was much more effective and allowed the train to carry less water and more of whatever cargo it was carrying.

According to an email sent out in mid-March to those involved helping solve the mystery, Townsend said there was a plan to reuse the concrete structures in the future. He told The Sun Times on Jun. 7 they plan to put them back in the ground at different angles and make it an art piece with a historical plaque to explain what their purpose was.

“It’ll be pretty neat for people to see them,” said Townsend. “They are pretty unique.”





Seth Kinker

Reporter/Digital Media for The Sun Times News

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