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The southern portal of Whites Covered Bridge
The oldest covered bridge still in use in Michigan, Whites Bridge crosses the Flat River in Montcalm County.
    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.
    Jared N. 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.
    Except 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 timber intersections.
Bresee and Walker used the Brown truss successfully in at least four covered bridges in central Michigan, three of which are still in existence. White's Bridge received repairs to its abutments in the fall of 1995 and is once again open to automobile traffic.
The north portal of Whites Bridge

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