On April 1, 1812, as the United States prepared for a possible war with Great Britain, Michigan Territorial Governor William Hull became the commander of the Army of the Northwest. His first task was to lead his army from Dayton, Ohio, to Detroit, building Hull’s Trace, a two hundred mile long road, as it marched. The army left Dayton on June 1. As it cut the trace through the wilderness from Urbana north, it laid logs crosswise across swampy areas to create a rough but stable corduroy roadbed that could support supply wagons. In late June, a detachment from Frenchtown commanded by Hubert Lacroix also worked on the road, attempting to follow a route laid out under an 1808 territorial Legislative Council act. On June 18, 1812, war was declared. Hull’s army arrived in Detroit on July 6.
Hull’s Trace, which linked Detroit and Ohio, was to be the Michigan Territory’s inland lifeline during the War of 1812. However, the Detroit River and Lake Erie gave the British easy access to the Michigan portion of the road. American efforts to use the road to bring supplies and men from Frenchtown, present day Monroe, were foiled twice before Hull surrendered Detroit on August 16, 1812.
After the war the Hull’s trace route was used for ever-improving roads, beginning in 1817 with a new military road. In 2000 low water levels in the Huron River revealed 1,247 feet of the old corduroy road, lying three to six feet beneath Jefferson Avenue. Axe marks were visible o some of the logs. This rare example of a surviving corduroy road is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
Hull’s Trace wikipedia entry.