How could fictitious towns have been placed on a state highway map? Peter Fletcher, then Chairman of the Michigan State Highway Commission, admitted responsibility. To learn more, this author went directly to the source. I spoke to Peter Fletcher himself on October 24, 2008.
Mr. Fletcher told me the story behind this infamous map. He explained that a fellow University of Michigan alumnus had been teasing him about the Mackinac Bridge colors. According to Fletcher, this man wondered how Fletcher, as State Highway Commission Chairman, could allow the Bridge to be painted green and white. Those were the colors of Michigan State University! Mr. Fletcher noted that the bridge colors were in compliance with federal highway regulations, so he had no choice in that matter. He did, however, have more control over the state highway map. Mr. Fletcher said that he thus ordered a cartographer to insert the two fictitious towns. These towns displayed his loyalty to his alma mater.
Mr. Fletcher noted that the map accurately depicted the area within Michigan state lines. His imaginary towns were placed in Ohio, outside the map’s focus. “We have no legal liability for anything taking place in that intellectual swamp south of Monroe,” Mr. Fletcher jokingly told me. He added that he had never forgiven Ohio for the Toledo War of 1835!
Today, the 1978-1979 edition of the official State of Michigan transportation map, with the Beatosu and Goblu towns, is a collector’s item!
For the full story, see Beatosu and Goblu, Ohio, an Image of the Month from the State of Michigan Historical Archives.
A copy of the map is available in the MSU Map Library Call Locked Cabinet, 843-b D-1978/79