Abandoned Tunnel Under Southern Michigan Interstate Highway Once Kept a One Room Schoolhouse Operating
An interesting piece of history that also tells a story in a rural area of southern Michigan lies just beneath a busy interstate highway.
Recently, Albion resident Steve Mills posted a photo on the Facebook group Abandoned, Old and Interesting Places in Michigan. It shows an abandoned tunnel underneath I-94 in Calhoun County. But what was this used for? A first guess is that it might have been for workers to use who were building the highway several decades ago, but the real reason is even more interesting.
This tunnel is located near mile marker 121 near the "B" Drive exit to Albion off I-94. This section of the highway was reportedly one of the final sections to be completed in this area of Michigan before I-94 opened for traffic in 1960. The photo above is looking north and its purpose was to allow students and staff access to what was one of the last remaining one-room schoolhouses in Calhoun County.
It was called White School and was located at the corner of "C" Drive North & 28 1/2 Mile Rd. When the freeway was being constructed, people who lived on the south side of I-94 no longer had an easy way to get across and make it to the school. So the tunnel was constructed to allow them to walk beneath I-94 to access the schoolhouse.
According to Mills, the school remained in operation until June of 1967. In fact, the schoolhouse building is still standing and has since been converted into a private residence.
I personally used this tunnel as a kid in the early 1980s to visit my friend's house on the other side. I'm not sure when the tunnel was finally fenced off but it has easily been 20 years. - Steve Mills - resident of Albion
This is one small example of how monumental the task was to develop the interstate system in Michigan and across the United States, as many buildings and properties found themselves in the path of the development. It caused some houses, barns or other structures to be moved or bulldozed in the late 1950s. But in this case, it looks like a reasonable and unique solution to keep this school operating was given through the construction of this tunnel.
Now, some of this information is considered word of mouth, according to Mills, and anyone out there who knows more, or can expand on this nugget of history is more than welcome to reach out and share information with us. We would love to hear from you.
And if anyone has photos of the tunnel from long ago or of the one-room schoolhouse, we would love to see those too! Meanwhile, check out some of these other old one-room schoolhouses from Michigan in the photo gallery posted below.
Old One-Room Schoolhouses & High Schools