New Mode of Transportation
With the designation and clearing of the land came the challenging task of constructing roads, for the initial journeys took place on foot through the dense forest along the Indian trails. One of these trails led through Zeeland from Holland to Grand Rapids.
Hand Axe and Shovel Roads
Most of the work done on these early roads was accomplished with the use of hand-axes and shovels. A path was cleared through the cutting down of trees and brush and the holes were filled with dirt.
Within a few years one of the first "corduroy" roads was built. This system was formed by logs laid side-by-side, transversely, covering them with earth and continuing in tiers until the desired height was attained. This work, too, was accomplished almost entirely by hand with the exception of the use of an ox-drawn cart for the bringing of logs to the site. The first highway in the town of Zeeland was constructed in November of 1849. Piles of logs dug up from the old State Street corduroy road may be seen at the Dekker Huis Museum. They range from 6 inches in diameter to 10 inches and were in layers under the roadway.
As the road system became more complete it was easier for early settlers to travel to villages to attend church, to visit with relatives and friends, and to shop for food and supplies. Zeeland became an important destination for the purchase of needed commodities.