Autumn in Fallasburg

Visit Fallasburg this fall

By Emma Palova

Lowell, MI- As the leaves turn burning red and the nights grow longer, the forgotten Fallasburg village sleeps its dream from the 1830s.

It was a dream of pioneer John Wesley Fallass who founded the village in 1837 to have a bustling place. He built a mill in 1839 in the village and began manufacturing flour and lumber. By 1850 the village boasted a grist mill and a sawmill that housed a chair factory. The chair factory may be one of the first furniture factories in the Grand Rapids area.

The road into the Fallasburg historical district from the north.
The road into the Fallasburg historical district from the north.

The bustling lumbering village also had a stone-mason, a pair of blacksmiths, horse barns, a hotel and tavern, two general stores, post office, distillery, school, a cemetery and a tannery.

It became a main stage route from Ionia to Grand Rapids, and a thriving settlement on the banks of the Flat River.

A thriving settlement in 1850s
Fallasburgh, a thriving settlement in 1850s

But, destiny had it different. Everything changed with the arrival of the D & M railroad line in Lowell instead of Fallasburg in 1858. The village started steadily declining with the post office closing in 1905 and the grist mill was torn down in 1912.

The Tower Farm circa 1850 in Fallasburg.
The Tower Farm circa 1850 in Fallasburg.

However, what is left of Mr. Fallass’ dream remains treasured to this day. The charming hamlet nestles in the northeast corner of Kent County on 42 acres along the banks of the Flat River. The original 1871 Fallasburg Covered Bridge connects the forgotten village  to the rest of the world. The bridge is a perfect Kodak spot favored by photographers and newlyweds.

Interpretive signs before the Covered Bridge.
Interpretive signs before the Covered Bridge.

The village includes a schoolhouse, village cemetery, and house museums: John Fallass House, Misner House, Tower Farm & Tower Barn and Fallass Barn.

The Covered Bridge stretches 100 feet long, 14 feet wide and 12 feet high. Its lattice-work trusses are made of white pine timbers from nearby Greenville.

Currently, it is the only one of two wooden covered bridges in Michigan open to traffic. The area lost the Whites Bridge Covered Bridge due to arson on July 7, 2013. Efforts are in the works to replace the sister bridge.

The entire village is on the National Register of Historic Places.

The one-room schoolhouse is open on Sundays.
The one-room schoolhouse is open on Sundays.

Take a tour on a picture perfect day, stop by the new interpretive signs in front of the Covered Bridge and get to know the story of the old Fallassburgh from the early 1830s roots to its decline in the early 1900s. But, slow down or you will get a $5 fine for riding or driving on the bridge faster than a walk, according to original 1872 signs.

You will immerse yourself into the past filled with villagers who played out the story. These included the founding Fallass family, the Moon family who were educators in the area, the Tower family and postmaster John M. Waters. The Fallasburg Historical Society (FHS) has maintained the village since 1965 thanks to resident Leonora Tower who decided to share this gem with the community.

Fallasburg founder John Fallass' house
Fallasburg founder John Fallass’ house

The FHS president Ken Tamke said the lack of continued development has been both a blessing and a curse.

None of the current residents known as villagers wish for any further development other than maintaining the existing historical properties, according to a feasibility study conducted by Vergennes Township.

A county park that surrounds the village is used for weddings, reunions, company and Rotary picnics. You can hike, bike or ride through the park and the village.

It is the hope of FHS to restore the Tower Farm for community meetings and to maintain the house museums. A section of North Country Trail (NCT) runs through the village next to the Tower Barn.

Venture out to Fallasburg during the upcoming Lowell events Girls Night Out on Oct. 15 and Christmas through Lowell on Nov. 20, 21 & 22.

Mark your calendars for the annual “Christmas in Fallasburg” party this year set for Dec. 12 from 6 to 8 p.m. Suggested donation is $20.

Patronize our sponsors http://www.mainstreetinnlowell.com just three miles south of Fallasburg.

Main Street Inn in nearby Lowell.
Main Street Inn in nearby Lowell.

For more info on nearby Lowell events go to http://www.discoverlowell.org

For more information go to http://www.fallasburg.org.

Copyright (c) 2015 Emma Blogs, LLC. All rights reserved.

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