The Highway Center Line was Invented in Michigan – We Just Can’t Agree Where
Located at opposite ends of the state, River Road in Wayne County near Detroit and Marquette County Road 492 in the Upper Peninsula both claim to be the nation's first road with a painted center line.
The Marquette Center Line
Travelling in rural Marquette County between Marquette and Negaunee, Route 492 features a historical market that claims "Highway Center Line Invented Here." The sign claims the center line was painted on a stretch of what was then M-15 around "Deadman's Curve" in 1917 when the county road commission decided to paint a center line in an attempt to keep drivers on the correct side of the road. The road became US 41 then decommissioned by the state and taken over by Marquette County.
Trenton's Center Line
River Road in Trenton, south of Detroit also claims the first center line which was painted in 1911, the idea of the director of the county Board of Road. The story goes he'd watched a wagon carrying milk spill on the road giving him the idea of the painted white line
So Which Michigan Center Line Wins?
So Trenton's white line appeared in 1911, six years before line up north. So why does the Marquette sign claim the first center line? It appears to be a bit of a technicality. Here's the distinction: the Wayne County center line was the first anywhere - and specifically in an urban area. The Marquette County painted line appears to be the first painted on a rural highway outside of a city, where speeds are likely higher.
So there you have it - Michigan can claim two more firsts when its comes to roads and driving.