Fallasburg Covered Bridge

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Back in the 1800’s, wood was the material choice for bridges in Michigan. Because wood didn’t stand up too well to the elements, covered bridges were the standard. My own town of Grand Rapids had several covered bridges spanning the Grand River.

What must once have numbered in the hundreds, dwindled to a handful of remaining wooden covered bridges by the late 20th century. Most were simply replaced by modern structures spanning crucial traffic corridors. The few that remained were in lightly trafficked rural backwaters that unfortunately also left them exposed to vandals and arson. In my neck of the woods, the Ada covered bridge succumbed in 1979 (but was subsequently rebuilt), and more recently White’s covered bridge was completely destroyed. And they’re not immune to other forms of idiocy, such as when a cement truck driver crossed the Fallasburg covered bridge (pictured above) with a full load of concrete weighing over 30 tons–ten times the rated limit for the historic bridge.

As far as I can tell, the Fallasburg covered bridge is now the oldest and one of only two covered bridges that remain in service in their original locations in Michigan. The other is Langely covered bridge that crosses the Saint Joseph river in southwest Michigan.

I arrived for this photograph on a perfect summer afternoon with blue skies and puffy clouds. The Fallasburg covered bridge is bordered by a beautiful park, so there is almost no modern development marring the scene. I tried a number of vantage points but liked best this location with the arrowroot and lily pads in the foreground. The bridge angles slightly to to the southwest, so in summertime the afternoon sun glances across the northern side. In full sun the slight overhang of the bridge created deep shadows, so I waited for a thin white cloud to cover the sun and soften the shadows.

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