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Kenneth I. Sawyer (Kenneth I. Sawyer)

Kenneth I. Sawyer

Few men have made such wide ranging contributions to highway betterment in Michigan, and throughout the world, as Kenneth I. Sawyer. Born on November 30, 1884 in Menominee, Michigan, he was graduated from high school in 1903 and from the University of Michigan with a bachelor of science degree in civil engineering in 1907. He first went to work in Ambridge, PA, for the American Bridge Company. Soon after he returned to Michigan, and by 1916 he settled in Marquette County as engineer and superintendent of the county highway department, a position he held until his death. He drafted much of Michigan’s basic highway legislation, including the first state gas and weight tax laws. In 1917, he instituted the practice for which he is most famous. On “Dead Man’s Curve” which is a stretch of old US highway 41 in Marquette County, Superintendent Sawyer placed what is believed to be the first highway centerline marking on any rural road in America. Sawyer felt this would aid drivers in staying in their own lanes while negotiating large, blind curves in the road. He is also credited with many important innovations in highway systems planning and construction programming. Sawyer was a founder and long-time secretary treasurer for the County Road Association of Michigan, and served for 8 years as president of the Upper Peninsula (Michigan) Road Builders Association. He also served as mayor of Ishpeming, Michigan. In the 1950’s K.l. Sawyer Air Force Base was named after him. This recently closed air force base is now the site of the Marquette County airport, and stills bears the name of Kenneth Sawyer as, Sawyer International Airport.


  • November, 30, 1884
  • USA


  • January, 01, 1944
  • USA


  • Ishpeming Cemetery
  • Michigan
  • USA

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