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Rediscover our past by visiting historic landmarks | Community Spirit

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Rediscover our past by visiting historic landmarks
Rediscover our past by visiting historic landmarks

ADA, MI - Walking across the Ada Covered Bridge is like stepping back in time.  It is one of four remaining historic covered bridges in West Michigan and the only one in Ada.

In the 1800’s and early 1900’s, bridges became the lifeblood of a community.  Ada’s development and prosperity were tied to its bridges.  The Ada Covered Bridge is the last remaining bridge from that era. 

Formerly known as the Bradfield Bridge, it was built by William Holmes in 1867.  He used a truss system patented by Josiah Brown of Buffalo.  The Michigan legislature authorized Ada to borrow up to $3,000 to build and maintain the bridge.

By 1904, Ada was a bustling township with a railroad station, post office, public school, two churches, hotel, several blacksmith shops, two general stores, sawmill and a couple dozen houses.

Then Ada was hit by the worst flooding in its history.  The township rallied to save the covered bridge from the flood waters.  Area farmers loaded their wagons with stones, which were used to weigh down the bridge.  Residents removed the boards on the sides of the bridge to allow water to flow through it.  The bridge was saved.

The last automobile crossed the bridge in 1930. In the late 1930’s, the Kent County Road Commission wanted to demolish the old bridge.  However, a public outcry, lead by the Ladies Literary Society of Ada, convinced the commission to refurbish the bridge.  In 1941, the commission used wood from an old barn to make improvements to the bridge.

The bridge joined the Michigan register of historic places in 1969 and the national register of historic places in 1970.

In 1979, an arsonist set fire to the original covered bridge.  The township built an accurate reproduction of the bridge at the same location.  Today, the Ada Covered Bridge is an icon in the township and a popular tourist attraction.  The 125 foot long structure is a pedestrian bridge that spans the Thornapple River and connects the Village of Ada with a park.

The Ada Covered Bridge is one of four historic covered bridges in the state, which are in their original locations.  The others are the Fallasburg Bridge and White’s Bridge, which span the Flat River north of  Lowell.  Both of these bridges still allow vehicle traffic.  The longest one is the Langley Covered Bridge at Centreville in St. Joseph County, which also allows vehicle traffic.  A fifth covered bridge, Ackley Bridge, was moved to its current location at Henry Ford ‘s Greenfield Village in Dearborn in the 1930’s.

The next time you want to get a glimpse of the past or you just want life to slow down, visit one of these historic covered bridges.