Gone but not forgotten

White’s Covered Bridge destroyed by fire

The remains of White's Covered Bridge after the July 7th fire.
The remains of White’s Covered Bridge after the July 7th fire.

The 1867 historical landmark wooden bridge near Smyrna was destroyed by fire on July 7. It only took a few hours for the flames the consume the structure and collapse the charred deck into the Flat River.

Old timers along with younger people gathered by the bridge last Monday to reflect on the bridge’s glory.

“It’s a shame,” said one local gentleman.

Others talked about their good times by the bridge. For many it served as a picnic site, a kayak and canoe launch site or just plain time for a break from the hustle and bustle of everyday life.

Annually on July 4th, people gathered from far and near for tubing and kayaking.

White's Covered Bridge in its full glory this January.
White’s Covered Bridge in its full glory this January.

A lady recalled a time when the bridge was lighted for the holidays and even had Santa Claus giving out presents. The bridge was also embedded in a legend that it was haunted. According to the accounts of some Kent County residents, when driving across the bridge at night, and stopping on it, ghosts would leave their hand prints on the window shield.

A flag nailed to the bridge’s guarding railing reads:

“We loved you so much and will miss your grace and beauty coming home.”

The Baylis Family

Farewell to the White's Covered Bridge.
Farewell to the White’s Covered Bridge.Following is the inscription on the Michigan Historic landmark site.

White’s Bridge

This picturesque covered bridge, one of the last of its kind in Michigan, was built-in 1867 by Jared N. Brazee and J.N. Walker, builders of several covered bridges in this area. The name of the bridge derives from the White family, a prominent pioneer family. The crossing of the Flat River here, was known as White’s Crossing before the first primitive bridge was built. In 1840, a bridge of log-corduroy construction was erected. It was replaced by this covered bridge, costing $1700. It is of the through-truss type with a gable roof. The hand-hewed trusses are sheeted over with rough pine boards. Wooden pegs and hand cut square iron nails are used to secure the various parts of the bridge. White’s Bridge has been in constant use since 1867 , proof that it was well made.

Copyright (c) story and photos by Emma Palova

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