Watch Long Lost ‘Winter Comes to Michigan’ Documentary Rediscovered by Michigan Department of Transportation
Produced in the 1930s and showcasing winter activities across Michigan, 'Winter Comes to Michigan' is a news-reel style film produced by the state's Department of Transportation and lost for more than 80 years.
The film describes Michigan as the nation's winter destination showing footage of the ski jumping competitions of the Upper Peninsula and the importance of keeping open the then-9000 miles of state highways for business and recreational travel.
Most interesting for us in Southwest Michigan, is the segment that begins around 7:00 describing a winter storm hitting the region and how the state would deploy assets. The MDOT office in Kalamazoo calls Lansing and requests assistance to keeping main highways US 31 and US 12 (today's Red Arrow Highway and Stadium Drive) open. Plows are sent from Grand Rapids, Manistee and Cadillac to Kalamazoo, Paw Paw, South Haven and Benton Harbor to keep the roads clear during the storm.
The film was recently discovered in a family collect in the Upper Peninsula, according to an MDOT news release,
The film was one of several reels found by sisters Nancy and Barbara Sleeper of Newberry. They discovered them in their mother's basement and wanted to preserve them as part of their family heritage.
"Our grandfather, Sanborn Sleeper, was the superintendent of the Luce County Road Commission from 1928 until sometime around World War II," Nancy Sleeper said. She believes he acquired the films during that period.
Sanborn Sleeper was instrumental in bringing the Snogo, an early snow blower, to Michigan, Nancy said. Some of the reels featured film of the Snogo equipment being tested near Newberry.