Fallasburg Bridge Model

Fallasburg model bridges across cultures, traditions

By Emma Palova

Here is the story of German student of architecture Bene Hofmann. Hofmann will be constructing a model of the Fallasburg Covered Bridge as his school project in Linz.

The Fallasburg Historical Society is extremely excited about the project that will spread the word about historical preservation beyond the borders of North America.

Hofmann will be using the blueprints from the 1994 bridge rehabilitation project provided by Wayne Harrall of the Kent County Road Commission. 

Kent County Road Commission blueprints.
Blueprints for the 1994 rehabilitation of the Fallasburg Covered Bridge.

In our first semester subject structure workswe had the opportunity to choose a wood or loam building which significantly presents an interesting type of truss work and then build a model of it. I really wanted to choose a bridge, because I admire the way these structures deal with physics.

Fallas Bene Hofmann
Bene Hofmann

My professor was once in Michigan and told me about the beautiful covered wooden bridges in this area. He told me about his experience when he rode in a coach through one of these covered bridges.

Fallas bridge b&w

“The sound impression you get riding over the boards in these long covered bridges is incomparablehe said. “And of course, they present a really effective and an intelligent truss.”

So, next thing I was doing was searching on Google for covered bridges and the one I liked the most was the Fallasburg Covered Bridge, the way its built and its scenic setting. It  perfectly conveys the atmosphere of a traditional historical bridge. Thats why I chose this bridge for my project.

Before my studies I was traveling to Australia, Asia and South America (sadly not North America.)

I think the most beautiful thing about  these  places is their tradition, reflected not only in buildings, but also in food and behavior of different nationalities.

The Fallsburg Covered Bridge is a really nice and authentic example of what I imagine as a typical rural building. Therefore I think it should get a lot of attention.

The Fallasburg Covered Bridge, built in 1871, was listed with the Michigan State Register on February 12, 1959. It was awarded a Michigan Historical Marker on September 10, 1971 and was listed with the National Register on March 16, 1972.
Directions: From Ada, follow M-21 to Lowell. Turn north on Hudson Street, which becomes Lincoln Lake Avenue. Turn east on Fallsburg County Park Road. Follow the signs.

For more information on the bridge to to http://www.fallasburg.org

Copyright (c) 2016 Emma Blogs, LLC. All rights reserved.

Memories from Fallasburg School

 FS Fallasburg Stories

Note: This is a new series that highlights stories from the sleepy village of Fallasburg located in northeast Kent County, Michigan. Feel free to contribute in any way you can. Tell us your story or email Emma at emmapalova@yahoo.com for an interview.

Lowell resident Ronald Topolski encounters the best and the worst teachers at the one-room Fallasburg School

The sign on the 1867 one-room Fallasburg School designates Michigan Historic Site.

By Emma Palova

Lowell, MI- Ronald Topolski lives only three miles south of the Fallasburg village where he went to the one-room school in the mid 1950s.

Topolski recalled having the rheumatic fever, so he had to take the second grade over.

“First I had Mrs. Postma,” he said, “and she was the best teacher I ever had.”

There were beehives above the bell in the school’s belfry. The bell rang to start the school day that ran usually from 8 or 8: 30 a.m. to 3 to 4 p.m.

Topolski lived up the hill from the Fallasburg Covered Bridge about a quarter of a mile from the school. The family owned  50 acres.


Kids were, are and always will be the same, just like when the school in Fallasburg started in 1867.

“I was always the defiant one,” he said.

Playing games at the field, Topolski told the other kids to stay outside even though the new teacher called everyone in to resume the classes. Mrs. Denny wasn’t anything like Mrs. Postma.

“She used a ruler to get the class back in order and cracked the whip,” he said. “She called all the parents. Mrs. Denny was the worst teacher I ever had.”

The one-room school went through eighth grade with an average of 20 kids. And Topolski knew all of them. Now, this wasn’t unusual in the village of Fallasburg where neighbors knew each other. He went to school with the Organek kids, the Towers, the Fairfields and many more.

“It was altogether a different world,” he said. “We were taught the basics at school.”

They played games just like kids nowadays; baseball and basketball. In winter, the kids went sliding down the hill in the back of the school.

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

Topolski remembers the pot belly stove in the classroom and the outhouse.

“You had to bundle up if you wanted to go,” he said.

So, after Topolski completed the fourth and fifth grade at the Fallasburg School, he finished sixth grade in downtown Lowell. Later, he lived in Six Lakes and went to seventh grade in Clarksville and eighth grade in Beckwith in Grand Rapids. And that’s where Topolski finally ran into Mrs. Postma after looking for her previously in vain.

“We were both astounded to meet each other,” he said. “I went into her room and we had a chance to reminisce about old days at the school.”

Topolski graduated from Lakeview School in 1963. He went to community college. After college, he worked for American Seating Co. for 27 years. The company made church pews, theatre seats and baseball stadium seating.

Then he worked for Magna Donnelly and retired in 2006 at 62.

His daughter Michelle Powell got married at the Fallasburg schoolhouse in 1992. Topolski and Powell have gone back to the schoolhouse since the wedding.

“Michelle took kids out there,” he said. “I feel it’s important to preserve the school and the village. It’s a piece of history.”

Topolski, who has 19 grandchildren, said he feels very strongly about preserving the historical buildings for future generations.

“It’s nice not to level it and put up some big buildings,” he said.

Living in Fallasburg, Topolski had a lot of fun along with the other kids like Raymond Fairfield. When farmers came down the hill with a wagon of hay, Topolski and Fairfield jumped from the Covered Bridge into the hay. They rolled off the wagon into the gravel.

“Everybody knew everybody’s business,” he said. “We listened to stories. We didn’t have a lot of toys.

Topolski volunteered to take tours and children through the schoolhouse when it opens for the season in May on Sundays from 2p.m. to 4 p.m.

“I’d like to show how people lived before all this technology and talk to kids about some of my experiences,” he said.


Become involved

New signs in Fallasburg

If you want to volunteer go to www.fallasburg.org or call Ken Tamke at 1-616-682-0785. Sign up to become a member on the website.

If you would like to tell your favorite Fallasburg story e-mail Emma at emmapalova@yahoo.com.

Also e-mail Emma for sponsorship of all of our marketing materials including but not limited to the following: E-newsletter, Fallasburg blog and the mobile app.

Join our facebook public group Fallasburg Today and sign up for Fallasburg Today E-newsletter on http://fallasburgtoday.org.

Subscribe to Fallasburg Today E-newsletter on http://eepurl.com/bxDrz1



Copyright © 2016 Emma Blogs, LLC. All rights reserved.

Hello 2016

FHS president greets 2016 with optimism

As we begin the second 50 years of FHS’ existence, it’s never been easier for members, guests, friends, and visitors to connect with us on the technology path.  Fallasburg is now on Facebook.  Join the conversation #fallasburg2016.  We’re also on Twitter @fallasburg and on WordPress at Fallasburg Today on http://fallasburgtoday.org

fallas ken headshot
FHS president Ken Tamke

Of course, you can visit our website, www.fallasburg.org  and subscribe to our e-newsletter Fallasburg Today. But, our social media campaign, website, and newsletter are just a few of the things we’re excited about as we move ahead into the new year.

As part of a collaboration project between the Lowell Area Historical Museum and Calvin College History Department, an intern from the college will digitally catalogue FHS artifacts and documents in February.

Everyone from scholars to students and school kids will be able to examine our collections when it’s finished.

You can chat with us at Lowell Expo as we man our table at this wonderful community event on March 26, 2016


April is winter cleanup time.  We’ll be preparing for Tri-Rivers Museum Network’s “Spring into the Past” event in early May.

Mark your calendars for April 30 and May 1, 2016 from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. This year’s theme is “Quilts- A stitch in time.”

Fallasburg village museums: the one-room Schoolhouse, the Misner House, and the Fallas House will be open to the public for free tours throughout the weekend as will 16 other local museums in the network.  There is never a better time to get a glimpse or our rich regional history.

On the heels of “Spring into the Past,” the Murray Lake Elementary School first grade class will get their glimpse at history as they pay the village another visit for a primer course.  And, the Fallassburgh Flats, our 1860’s style Vintage Base Ball team begins seasonal play on Fallas Field.  For information and schedule when available, contact the Flats at:  fallassburghflats@gmail.com

Fallassburgh Flats
Fallassburgh Flats vintage baseball team

On Sunday, July 10 all roads lead to Fallasburg Village…  If you’re on a bicycle that is.  The 22NDAnnual Covered Bridge Bike Tour takes to the streets for our signature event and chief fundraiser; the legacy of our dear friend and board member, Larry Martin, who dreamed the whole thing up back in 1994.

September offers a chance to catch up with FHS once again at the Lowell Area Arts Council’s, Fallasburg Fall Festival of the Arts in Fallasburg Park.  We’ll be on the south porch of the Pavilion as we have been for 40+ years.

Venture across the Fallasburg Covered Bridge on Fall Festival weekend and check out the Fallasburg Historical Society “Bazaar” featuring more arts, crafts, and treats.  Just several steps away you can take in some of the action on Fallas Field as the Fallassburgh Flats host the John Wesley Fallas Invitational Vintage Base Ball Tournament.  Four vintage teams will play a round-robin with games all day Saturday.

In October, we’re planning a secret Halloween event, but that’s all I can say now.  Details will be un-cloaked later…  Ghosts in Fallasburg?

Cap off 2016 with “Christmas in Fallasburg,” our community celebration at the Schoolhouse and in adjacent Fallas Field on Saturday, December 10 from 6-8PM.  Come help us toast another year of preserving historic Fallasburg Village!

Happy New Year!

Ken Tamke

FHS president


Copyright (c)2016 Emma Blogs,LLC. All rights reserved.