There are three types of people in this world: Those who notice nothing. Those who notice but don’t care to question. And then there are those who ask why. David Wagner is the last one.
David reached out to Bubbler Talk — our series where you ask, we investigate, and together we unveil the answers — to learn about a road he often passes.
What is Seven Mile Road 7 miles from?
First, we consulted Google. To be honest, Google was only good for letting us know the answer is not Lake Michigan.
Next, David met us at a BP gas station in Caledonia right off Seven Mile Road.
David says he’s asked around 10 people his question about Seven Mile Road and that there’s no consensus.
“It must be something downtown Racine, maybe. So, I have gotten that far since I asked you the question, but I still don’t have a specific answer,” he says.
We jumped in David’s truck to travel 7 miles south from the Seven Mile Road exit off I-94, just 20 minutes south of Milwaukee, to see where we’d end up. Scientific, right?
On that road trip, we passed several fields, a bit of construction and traffic. David quipped “the drive to nowhere.” While not exactly nowhere, the drive landed us in front of a Toyota dealership and a field.
He was a little disappointed. “That’s our 7 miles — OK,” David says.
Still not satisfied, we contacted former Racine City Administrator Tom Friedel. You know those people who know everything? Tom is one of those.
And he tells us that Seven Mile Road is 7 miles from the courthouse in downtown Racine. We finally had our answer. But why there?
“When this territory was divided and surveyed, there were 1-mile sections created, from the Illinois border all the way north,” he says. “So, in Racine County, the closest point to county government is right here, at Seventh and Wisconsin.”
Racine County is divided into section lines. Every section line marks a new mile, and it just so happens that counting began at the seat of county government.
When asked why some of the roads have names other than a mile marker, Tom says it was common for streets to be given the names of the landowner.
So, there you have it. Seven Mile Road isn't 7 miles from Lake Michigan or wherever your imagination takes you, rather from The Racine County Courthouse.
Editor's note: This piece was originally published on Sept. 28, 2018.
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