Alpena Once Built A ‘Cow Tunnel’ Under a Busy Highway to Let Animals Cross Safely
Back when roads became more than horse and buggy paths, cows were in danger of cars barreling down their once relatively serene grazing pastures. How did Alpena County, in northeastern Michigan solve the problem of avoiding a car/cow collision? They did it by constructing a 'cow tunnel.'
A historic and pretty remarkable group of photos was shared recently on the Alpena: Sanctuary of the Great Lakes Facebook page.
As the story goes, Long Rapids Road was slated to bisect the land of the farming Franz family. The Alpena County Road Commission actually built a tunnel under the road to allow the cows to graze the entire property.
The tunnel was 52 feet long - that's over half a football field, with no word on if anyone needed to muck out the tunnel because that photo above looks pretty clean.
Sadly you can't see the cow tunnel today, it was removed in 1996.
A commenter with a keen memory shared info on where you would have found this unique infrastructure:
The tunnel was just easterly of the Frantz, Victorian farmhouse, which is now burgundy in color before you get to the curves east of Dietz Rd.
Cow Tunnel Legends Around America
It wasn't just Alpena that can claim a 'cow tunnel.' There's a fantastic urban legend that says there was a similar tunnel right in the heart of New York City - under 12th Street in Manhattan:
Cows used to be ferried across the Hudson River from New Jersey, herded across Twelfth Avenue (now the West Side Highway), and brought to this part of town to be made into beef.
There's also said to be one on Cape Cod in Massachusettes. From this video it looks like a standard drainage tunnel, however, those rock steps up may just have been for cow navigation.
In the Chicago suburb of Naperville, there was an effort to open a cow tunnel built in the Civil War era around 1860 and ran under a railroad:
Cow tunnels may be fascinating but not too mysterious. These mysteries, on the other hand, can lead you down some deep rabbit holes.
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