Site No.20: New Richmond and the Swing Bridge

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As you descend into the valley created by the Kalamazoo River you will find yourself in New Richmond, a true river flats town surrounded by water.  This little village was created when the Chicago and West Michigan Railroad line cam through and was chosen as a station because of its easy access by river from Saugatuck.  In 1868 a sawmill was built to supply logs and timbers for the railroad track base and the construction of railroad bridges in the area.

New Richmond remained a key transportation point, with its passenger and freight station providing access to distant places for people and goods from all over the county, until the Interurban Train began service between Holland and Saugatuck.  With the loss of the Saugatuck passengers, and other transportation options becoming available on the eastern side of the county, the New Richmond depot fell into disuse.

New Richmond train depot
Photo of New Richmond train depot (date unknown)

The Swing Bridge.  Built in 1879, this is the oldest remaining vehicular swing bridge of its kind in the United States and is on the National Register of Historic Places. The bridge was designed so that the center span could swing open with a hand crank to allow boat traffic up and down the Kalamazoo River.  It was completely restored in 2004 and is now open to pedestrian traffic only.  It is the centerpiece of New Richmond Bridge County Park.

1915 Trestle Bridge 2004 Trestle Bridge
The photo on the left is how the swing bridge looked ca. 1915 and the photo on the right is how it appears today.

 

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