Alexis de Tocqueville

Alexis de Tocqueville on the Saginaw Trail

In 1831, 26 year old Alexis de Tocqueville and his friend Gustave de Beaumont, took the ultimate road trip. The pair of French aristocrats journey from Buffalo New York to the Straights of Detroit with the intent of going to the last overland outpost of civilization; Saginaw.

Their travels predate Michigan’s statehood, the lumber industry, and homestead settlement, the story weaves a tale of what early Northwest territory life was like in the early 1800s. We travel with them along with the famous Saginaw trail meeting unique individuals hacking their way into virgin forests and meeting its native inhabitants. It’s also a commentary on the environment and how supposedly civilized society will forever impact nature.

It’s a fascinating tale, but be forewarned. It contains the ethnocentrism, laced with the tone of superior racism, that was all too common in those days. However, it also offers a historic keyhole view of what Michigan was like in 1831, like no other author has conveyed.

This small short story takes place 180 years before today’s concept of climate change. It’s a fascinating short story that is an excerpt of the book A Fortnight in the Wilderness and is now freely available for the first time anywhere as a podcast on Google Podcast and Apple Podcast

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Michael Hardy

Mike Hardy is the owner of Thumbwind Publications. It started in 2009 as a fun-loving blog covering the wind industry of Michigan's Upper Thumb. Since then, he authored a vast range of content and established a loyal base of 30,000 visitors per month. Sites now include,,, and he collaborates with his son on

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