5 Drivable Historic Covered Bridges
Gas up your car and get ready for a tour of these stunning wooden bridges
The wonderment of historic covered bridges draws people to towns across the state to ogle, admire and photograph traditional timber titans. Hearken back to a bygone era with a drive through one of these spectacular spanners.
Holz-Brücke literally means wooden bridge in German, so where else but Frankenmuth would Michigan’s largest covered wooden bridge of that name be located. Bavarian Inn’s Holz-Brücke is a beautifully crafted replica of a 19th century town lattice bridge.
Stretching 239 feet across the picturesque Cass River, the bridge was built in 1980 with 163,288 board feet of wood, primarily Douglas Fir, 1,000 pounds of non-wood material and 25,000 cedar shingles.
Drive or bike across the two-lane bridge and delight in the rhythmic thunking of wheels as they roll over its wood boards. Stroll across a covered pedestrian walkway on either side and marvel at the crisscross framework of its intricate supports.
With the Bavarian Inn Restaurant, Zehnder’s of Frankenmuth, the Covered Bridge Shop and carriage rides on one side of the river and the Bavarian Inn Lodge, Heritage Park and numerous shopping, dining and entertainment opportunities on the other, the bridge not only connects two banks of a river, it connects people with venues for adventure.
In 2015, a new cedar shake roof crafted from 15,000 square feet of shingles was installed and the floor boards were replaced with new white oak boards, assuring the Holz-Brücke will continue to join people with pleasure long into the future.
Fun fact: A pair of identical twin oxen named Buck and Bright hauled the bridge into place at a rate of three inches per minute. It took 12 days.
Built in 1867, the Whites Bridge was the oldest covered bridge in the state before it was destroyed by arson in 2013. Thanks to a successful fundraising campaign, a replica was built in 2020 allowing people to drive or walk across a new through-truss, gable roofed, 120-foot bridge and take in the scenery from Lowell to Belding over the Flat River.
Throughout its history, the bridge provided a location for family gatherings and weddings, and visitors carved their names in the wood timbers. The new bridge allows memory making to continue at what is still designated a state historical bridge as it was built on the original abutments.
Its length and vibrant red hue attract bridge lovers from all over the U.S. The Langley Bridge extends 282 feet across the St. Joseph River making it the longest covered bridge in the state, and one of the longest in the nation. Built in 1887 with the highest quality white pine, the handsome Howe-truss bridge was designated a state historic site in 1965.
A popular destination for photographers and fishermen, the bridge offers protection from the weather and sunburn to those who drop a line through open side board slats in hopes of reeling in a big one. Drive across history and fall in love with the character of the timbers and the stunning surrounding scenery. There are vehicle weight, height and width restrictions.
Steer through the state’s oldest covered bridge to still allow vehicle traffic. The Fallasburg Covered Bridge celebrated its 150th birthday last year. Constructed with pine timber in 1871, the Brown-truss style bridge was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1972. It stretches 100 feet across the Flat River connecting Fallasburg Park to historic Fallasburg Village.
With baseball fields, hiking and nature trails at the park at one end of the bridge and a pioneer village with a one-room schoolhouse museum and historic buildings on the other end, the Fallasburg Covered Bridge covers all the bases for adventure and enlightenment.
A covered bridge brings out the charm along the 7.4-mile Pierce Stocking Scenic Drive in the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore. The Pierce Stocking Bridge is one of the most captivating components of the scenic drive which loops through a beech-maple forest and sand dunes overlooking Lake Michigan.
Pierce Stocking, a lumberman and nature lover, formed the idea of constructing a scenic drive to share his love of the outdoors, provide access to people of all ages and abilities and to protect the dunes and woods by providing activities along the road, at scenic overlooks and picnic areas.
Stocking built the Stringer-truss bridge in the 1960s knowing it would add a picturesque element to the drive. Indeed, the bridge has been one of the most looked forward to stops along the drive since it opened in 1967. It’s been popular with porcupines too. In 1986, the bridge was rebuilt after they chewed apart the walls. Visitors can park at a pull-off and snap photos.
Link to Pierce Stocking Virtual Tour: https://www.nps.gov/slbe/planyourvisit/psvirtualtour0.htm
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