oldest covered bridge still in use in Michigan, Whites Bridge crosses the Flat River in
When an ice jam on the Flat River in the spring
of 1869 demolished the second White's Bridge, an inferior structure built for a paltry
$250, the people of Smyrna in Ionia County thought to erect something more substantial,
even though they had no means of immediate payment.
Bresee and Joseph H. Walker took the contract to construct a 120 foot covered bridge on
the site, for a deferred payment of $1000 in 1870 and $700 in 1871. The builders used some
second-hand lumber for floor planking in an effort to finish the job quickly, but when the
commission discovered auger holes, they deducted $25 from the first payment.
for occassional siding replacement and a new roof, White's Bridge is much the same today
as it was when erected more than a century ago. It is built with the Brown truss, a type
of construction which enjoyed a brief popularity, and only in Michigan. Invented and
patented in 1857 by Josiah Brown of Buffalo, New York, this type of construction resembles
the Howe arrangement of "X" bracing and counterbracing, but uses lighter and
less timber. It contains no upright members and no iron except for bolt connectors at the