Telegraph Road


One of my favourite songs -- indeed one of my eight "Desert Island Discs" -- is Telegraph Road by Dire Straits.  I chose it because the main North/South Road  running through Metro Detroit is Telegraph Road.  I lived for 4 years about a mile west of it in Fairlane Woods. When I met her, Judy's house was about 1.2 miles to the West in Redford.

For many years I wondered whether it was this road that had inspired Mark Knopfler to write the song.  The first verse tells a story very similar to that in the opening chapter of Robert Lacey's biography of [Henry] "Ford" about the founding of Dearborn, through which Telegraph Road runs.

  This seems to be the case as documented in Wikipedia  "Inspired by a bus trip taken by Knopfler, the lyrics narrate a tale of changing land development over a span of many decades along Telegraph Road in suburban Detroit, Michigan. In the latter verses, Knopfler focuses on one man's personal struggle with unemployment after the city built around the telegraph road has become uninhabited and barren just as it began."

Dire Straits "Telegraph Road" 
Information on Telegraph Road in Michigan

        escription and History

Bridge over I94    
Near Grand River Road      

"Telegraph Road" by Mark Knopfler

A long time ago came a man on a track 
walking thirty miles with a sack on his back 
and he put down his load where he thought it was the best 
he made a home in the wilderness 
he built a cabin and a winter store 
and he ploughed up the ground by the cold lake shore 
the other travellers came riding down the track 
and they never went further, no and they never went back

From "Ford" by Robert Lacey

Alexis de Tocqueville landed in America in May 1831, he was disappointed to find the place so civilised. He was expecting savagery. So, forsaking New York and the cities of the East, the Frenchman went in search of the raw, wild heart of the continent, and as he headed inland, he asked people where the real frontier was. Where were the Indians?

Tocqueville was told that there was a steamer leaving in twenty-four hours for Detroit and the Michigan territory. There he would find his savagery.

Michigan did not disappoint him. A mile out of Detroit the forest started, and for whole days, as Tocqueville travelled, he scarcely saw the sun through the trees

It was in a clearing in the Michigan woods that Henry Ford was born on July 30, 1863.




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