Wednesday, September 27, 2017- Trip Day 54
OK, so we’re not in Detroit nor do we plan on going into downtown Detroit. We are in Belleville at the Wayne County Fairgrounds RV Park, a measly 17 miles from downtown Detroit. As some of you are aware ya takes your chances when it comes to fairground RV Parks. Sometimes they aren’t so nice, this one is. Lots of grass for our muttzo Megan’s walks. The RV sites are grass. The only ding that I can see is the sites are side by side- one utility pedestal is shared by two rigs.
Wayne County Fairgrounds RV Park
So far we have one neighbor so we are sharing the common space between us. So far that’s not a problem as our neighbor is “camping” in a covered utility trailer full of picker junk….. er…… rusty treasure. He’s on his way to Hershey PA to attend their swap meet. By the by, we were here by 1030 hours and the lady in the office did not charge us an early arrival fee!
After setting up and enjoying a tomato soup lunch we took a ride to downtown Belleville (3900 souls). The town was platted in 1847 with the main thoroughfares still used today. Large expanses of woodland were removed to make way for farmland, industry and an increasing population so this town was initially a lumber town.
Contrast: Belleville Lake- Before our arrival and during our visit
There was a need for electrical power so the Huron River was flooded early in 1926 creating Belleville Lake. The town’s claim to fame is the National Strawberry Festival.
It’s still fairly early. Let’s go have a look at Ypsilanti (19,000 souls). For those who are pronunciation impaired, the “Y” in Ypsilanti is pronounce as an “I”, as in ip-si-LAN-tee. It’s named after Demetrios Ypsilantis, a hero in the Greek War of Independence.
The city is only 9 miles west. Originally a trading post established by the French Canuck Gabriel Godfrey in 1809, a permanent settlement was established in 1823. The town played an important role in the auto industry. From 1920 to 1922 Apex Motors produced the “ACE” car. But Preston Tucker whose family owned the Ypsilanti Machine Tool Company, designed and built the prototypes for his Tucker ’48.
In 1945 Henry J. Kaiser and Joseph Frazer bought the nearby Willow Run B-24 Liberator bomber plant from Ford Motor Co. and started making Kaiser and Frazer model cars in 1947. The last Kaiser rolled off the assembly line in 1953. General Motors purchased the plant an converted to its Powertrain division. That division shut down in 2010.
Ypsi has an interest political history. In the 1970’s the penalty for the use and sale of marijuana was reduced to $5 via initiative. When a fella was prosecuted for possession 100 pounds of cannabis the defense argued that he should be charged under Ypsilanti’s ordinance. Cooler head prevailed and the judge declared the ordinance invalid.
Interesting signage in Depot Town, Ypsilanti MI
Also in the ’70’s a Muslim native of India was elected to the Ypsi city council, a first in Michigan. In the ’90’s Ypsi adopted a living wage ordinance, and a housing discrimination ban. Driving around town we saw more signs of progressives- black lives matter, sanctuary churches, women’s rights and “resist” signs. I ask resist what or who? Can’t we all just get along?
Can you tell by it’s political history that this progressive little city may also be a college town? Yep- Eastern Michigan University. We head back to camp and settle in for the evening.