The rivers that criss-cross Grand Rapids and West Michigan were integral to the region's explosive growth in the 19th century- especially after bridges were built to traverse the waters. Here are a few must-sees for bridge aficionados:
Ada Covered Bridge. Spans the Thornapple River, connecting the village of Ada to a public park on the other side. Rebuilt to its 1850s-era glory with the help of Ada's Amway Corporation.
Fallasburg Covered Bridge. One of only three covered bridges open to vehicle traffic in Michigan, it spans 100 feet across beautiful Flat River.
White's Covered Bridge. The bridge was the oldest covered bridge in Michigan built in 1869. Located about 20 miles east of Grand Rapids. Unfortunately, this bridge burned down in July 2013. Here are photos of the bridge.
Bowen's Mill Bridge. A quaint scale replica of the covered bridge that once crossed the Thornapple River. A 17 foot water wheel and 1864 Grist Mill can be viewed from the bridge, which is about 20 miles south of Grand Rapids.
Blue Bridge. One of the longest truss bridges in Michigan, this was originally a railroad crossing over the Grand River in downtown Grand Rapids. It's been converted to a pedestrian walkway connecting downtown with Grand Rapids Public Museum, Gerald R. Ford Presidential Museum and Grand Valley State University.
Pearl Street Bridge. Michigan's third longest concrete arch bridge is actually not an arch bridge anymore - but it retains the historic arch façade. Spans the Grand River in downtown Grand Rapids,
Fulton Street Bridge. Michigan's second largest concrete arch bridge retains much of its historical integrity. It runs parallel to downtown's Pearl Street Bridge over the Grand River. Together, the bridges lend a charming European feel to downtown, especially when they're lighted at night.
Sixth Street Bridge. This wrought-iron bridge was constructed in 1866 and is the longest pin-connected highway truss in Michigan. Spans 544 feet over the Grand River just north of downtown. HistoricBridges.org calls it "a model for how all bridges, especially historic bridges, should be cared for."