FHS president’s summer message

Summer at Falasburg pioneer village

Dear friends and visitors,

Summer is almost here as spring winds down.  It’s been a busy and productive time in the pioneer village for the Fallasburg Historical Society. (FHS)  March and April showers have in fact brought May flowers, but the rains also delayed our much-needed roof replacement on the Fallas House.

fallas ken headshot
FHS president Ken Tamke

Through the benevolence of the late Harold Englehardt of Lowell and his bequest, the Grand Rapids Community Foundation’s Lowell Area Community Fund, awarded monies to FHS to get the job done in what we hoped would be mid-March.  Mother Nature strikes again, yet Villagers and volunteers came to the rescue.  Craig Wood’s young crew scaled the slippery slope and patched new critter invasion routes which just seemed to appear as soon as we got the last ones secured.  Not to worry.  The weather did improve and Risner’s Roofing & Home Improvement of Lowell installed a beautiful new roof.  Thank you, Grand Rapids Community Foundation, Lowell Area Community Fund, Risner’s, and timely help from Village volunteers.  We couldn’t have done it without you!

Fallas house roof
New roof on John W. Fallas House

Speaking of timely help, Fallasburg Historical Society’s Calvin College History Department Intern, Brianne Lynn, under the direction and mentorship of Lowell Area Historical Museum’s Executive Director, Lisa Plank, has completed her term assignment.  Brianne has brought FHS ever closer to having all their accession pieces (the stuff that people donate, and the treasures we acquire) digitally cataloged in a wonderful software program and website developed by the Lowell Museum’s software guru, Jeff Ostrander.  The site, “The Past Online,” allows anyone with a computer, tablet, or smart phone to access documents, pictures, and artifacts that comprise our collections, for research, or just out of historical curiosity.  Have a look: www.thepastonline.org

And, while you’re surfing check out www.fallasburg.org  Last December, FHS engaged Addorio Technologies, LLC, of Lowell, to redesign and launch a new website.  The first steps were to create basic “Home” and “Contact” pages for the Society which went live in January.  The subsequent work, the fun part, has been in development and has just gone up on our site. This work comes courtesy of the Lowell Cable Television Endowment Fund which awarded FHS a grant for the implementation of additional Internet pages.  These pages will highlight and provide a means for registration and payment for “Events” like the upcoming 23RD Annual Covered Bridge Bike Tour on Sunday, July 9, and the Fallasburg Farmhouse Soiree on Saturday, August 5.


On another Internet page, you’ll find links to other organizations like “The Past Online,” Lowell Area Historical Museum, and the Fallassburgh Flats, our Vintage Base Ball Team.  Of course, there’ll be a “Photo Gallery” page with four seasons of village pictures and historical tidbits.  But, the page I’m most excited about is “History’s Mysteries.”  Every museum has them, pictures you can’t identify of people and places, artifacts that baffle-what is that?  Well, Fallasburg has their share, and you’ll be able to play history detective.  We’ll put them up on the site, and who knows what might happen.  Thank you to Addorio, and the Lowell Cable Television Fund.  Technology is daunting to us old-schoolers, but you’ve helped us broaden our horizons and share our resources as only technology can do!

Lowell Community Expo at Lowell High School in late March brought together Fallasburg Historical Society legends Ed Roth, Dottie Blain, and Addie Tower Abel, along with current FHS Treasurer, Alan Rumbaugh, Board Members Melanie Brim and Tracy Worthington, all as goodwill ambassadors from the Village.  The group was out to make new friends and so they did.  A local Boy Scout, John Lothian, in pursuit of his Eagle Scout Badge wants to follow up on our new roof and paint the Fallas House for his community service project.  Recently retired from Grand Valley State University, Communications Specialist, Mark Kuzee, stopped by. He has relocated to the Lowell Area with his wife Sue, has a penchant for woodworking, and finds exciting the challenges of maintaining historic properties just like our man of many hats, Alan Rumbaugh.  We’ve already pressed Mark into service making custom siding patches for critter holes in the wildlife refuge we call Fallasburg Village.

Misner bikers
Register online for the 23rd Covered Bridge Bike Tour on http://www.fallasburg.org

Spring cleaning in Fallasburg was undertaken in several Saturday morning sessions.  Tina Cadwallader polished up the Schoolhouse and got it ready for Murray Lake Elementary School’s 1ST Grade Class visit.  Alan Rumbaugh, Lisa Sostecke, Mark Kuzee, Frank and Patty Brechbiel and even Fallasburg Intern, Brianne Lynn spiffed up the Misner House filling a dumpster.  And, yours truly recycled what amounted to the evolution of the personal computer: old monitors, keyboards, CPU’s, printers, and yes, mice, too.

Fallas museum tour
FHS volunteers Tracy Wprthington and Tina Sicialiano Cadwallader inside the Misner House during the Spring into the Past tour.

“Spring into the Past,” a creation of the Tri-Rivers Museum Network on the first weekend in May is a collaboration of what has grown to 41 local museums that share the geography of three rivers. The Flat, the Thornapple, and the Grand Rivers roughly define a boundary.  All FHS museums were open for the weekend as were other network museums, free of charge, with regional tours encouraged.  Fine weather and sunshine insured a steady stream of visitors and the Fallassburgh Flats, FHS’s Vintage Base Ball Team initiated their 2017 season with an intra-squad scrimmage on Fallas Field.  For more information on the Flats and their season schedule: www.fallassburghflats.com

On Monday, June 19, 2017 at the Lowell Chamber of Commerce, 7:00 p.m., FHS will hold our Annual General Meeting.  This is an opportunity for our members to have a voice and our friends to offer an opinion.  Most importantly, it’s a chance to get for all of you to get involved!  We can’t do it without you!  We hope you’ll come out and join us!





  • VISIT fallasburg.org
  • FOLLOW FHS BLOG FALLASBURGTODAY on http://fallasburgtoday.org
  • LIKE US ON FACEBOOK! Twitter, Pinterest, Google +
  • Emma Palova book signing  of “Shifting Sands Short Stories “on July 16 from 1 to 4 p.m. at the Fallasburg Schoolhouse..info at http://emmapalova.com

Copyright (c) 2017 Emma Blogs, LLC. All rights reserved.


Fallasburg Covered Bridge Bike Tour survey

FHS seeks input on annual Fallasburg Covered Bridge Bike Tour in a survey

By Emma Palova

EW Emma’s Writings

The enclosed link to the survey will help improve the Fallasburg Historical Society (FHS) signature event. That is the annual Fallasburg Covered Bridge Bike Tour  (FCBBT) held mostly on the Sunday following the July 4th holiday.


The routes have been designed for all riders regardless the level of experience. The shorter 12 & 28 mile routes are great for families. The 12-mile route is a loop around the beautiful Fallasburg Park located in northeast Kent County. The 28-mile route goes from the Fallasburg Covered Bridge to the Ada Covered Bridge. All routes are on paved roads and they include public bathroom stops.

The FHS makes every effort to assist riders in need with SAG (supportandgear) aka broom wagon.

Mark your calendars for the next FHS event. The 2nd annual Fallasburg Village Bazaar will be held on Sept.17 & 18 in the historic village of Fallasburg. So, come and explore our house museums: the one room schoolhouse, the Fallass House & the Misner House.

Don’t forget to stop by the Fallassburgh Field to see the vintage Fallassburgh Flats base ball team play the game without gloves on Sept. 17.

Follow us on twitter @fallasburg, #fallasburg, #puremichigan, and on other social media.

Please fill out the survey by clicking on the link. The survey is a public document for anyone to see.


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

Fallasburg Covered Bridge Bike Tour 2016

Bike tour 2016 pedals to success

By Emma Palova

Fallasburg, MI- Bicycle riders from all over Michigan flocked to the historic village of Fallasburg nestled on the banks of the Flat River three miles northeast of Lowell on Sunday last week.

It was a perfect day. Not too hot, not too cold. A mild breeze curled the water in the Flat River. The trees bowed their crowns over the Fallasburg museum buildings and the banks of the river. The sun, already high up at 8:30 am, cast its golden rays in between the leaves of oaks and maples.

Fallasburg bike tour 2016 registration with Tina Siciliano Cadwallader & Devon Siciliano.
Fallasburg bike tour 2016 registration with Tina Siciliano Cadwallader & Devon Siciliano.

Several bikers ahead of me pedaled through the Fallasburg Covered Bridge much like the early settlers rode on their horses and in coaches.


The atmosphere hasn’t changed. You hear the wheels hitting the wooden deck of the bridge and rolling slowly, no more than five miles an hour, over the planks.

You emerge on the other side of the river in full morning light. And a new day is born.

Fallasburg Covered Bridge connects to the past.
Fallasburg Covered Bridge connects to the past.

The bikers registered for the 22nd annual Fallasburg Covered Bridge Bike Tour (CBBT) at the one-room schoolhouse museum. The bike tour is the signature fundraising event for the Fallasburg Historical Society (FHS).

Registrar Tina Siciliano Cadwallader with niece Devon Siciliano were ready sitting behind the school teacher’s desk with an antique lamp.

They had already launched 62 riders with more streaming in by the minute.Outside the schoolhouse, FHS treasurer Alan Rumbaugh handed out route maps.

According to Rumbaugh, the most popular ride was the 50-mile route.

“Yes, I am the map guy,” he said. “You might as well go 50 rather than just 28. It’s a pretty day to do this.”

For Lisa Pohlad of Grand Rapids this was the third year on the Fallasburg CBBT. Pohlad, who was riding solo, decided for the 50-mile route to Coldwater and back to Fallasburg. However, even some tandem bikers picked the 50 route.

Bikers register at the schoolhouse.
Bikers register at the schoolhouse.

“I am doing the 50 route again,” she said. “It’s a great ride.”

Pohlad didn’t think anything needed to be improved with the event.

“It’s good as it is,” she said.

Most registering bikers asked about root beer which was the paired beverage to the Italian lunch. According to volunteers, the root beer is the jewel of the ride.

“Come early or we run out,” said FHS president Ken Tamke.

Tamke said he was worried about how many riders will participate.

“It’s like having a party and nobody shows up,” he joked.

Tamke along with Frank Brechbiel do the SAG (Support and Gear) aka broom wagon ride assisting bikers who need help en route. They sweep the routes for riders who are unable to continue or those who have technical difficulties.

Back at the Misner House museum it started getting busy around noon with hungry bikers flocking to the porch. FHS volunteer Dottie Blain was manning the buffet station. Blain made her excellent meatballs that are also served at the annual Christmas party on the second Saturday in December.

FHS volunteer Dottie Blain serve signature meatballs at Misner House.
FHS volunteer Dottie Blain serve signature meatballs at Misner House.

FHS volunteer Patty Brechbiel was in charge of catering the meal for some 120 riders. This included 10 gallons of pasta sauce doctored up for taste with herbs and spices.

“That’s unacceptable to leave it just from the jars,” she said.

Brechbiel was stationed with her grill by the famous Sprecker’s root beer keg from Wisconsin.

“One year we didn’t have it and it was a big disappointment for riders,” she said.

Typically, the crew serves food until 4 p.m.

FHS volunteer Patty Brechbiel at the catering station.
FHS volunteer Patty Brechbiel at the catering station.

Enjoying his meatball & spaghetti meal after a 62-mile ride, Jim Steenwyk of Dorr was no newcomer to the tour. Steenwyk, 74, is a member of the Rapid Wheelman biking group. He’s been riding bicycles since he turned three.

“What about your knees,” I asked. “I had to stop riding because of my knees.”

Steenwyk shook his head and sighed.

“Most people are not trained properly to ride a bike,” he said. “You put torque on your knees. It’s all in shifting.”

Avid wheelman Jim Steenwyk explains how to avoid torque on the knees when biking.
Avid wheelman Jim Steenwyk explains how to avoid torque on the knees when biking.

Steenwyk has 27 gears on his Camden road bicycle.

And what’s the future for the tour?

According to Tamke, some routes may get revamped while staying local. The organizers are considering a new route to Whites Bridge with a kayaking option.

“We attract a niche of riders every year,” Tamke said. “Come and join us for the 23rd annual bike tour.”

The 23rd Fallasburg Covered Bridge bike tour will be held on Sunday, July 9th with registration from 7 a.m. to 9 a.m. at the one-room schoolhouse museum.


Note: Help the FHS improve the bike tour. We are looking for your feedback. Fill out our survey. Thank you.


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





Fallasburg set for bike tour

Get ready for Fallasburg Covered Bridge Bike Tour

By Emma Palova

Fallasburg, MI- After months of anticipation, the biggest event of the year for the Fallasburg Historical Society (FHS) opens Sunday, July 10th at the Fallasburg historical village located three miles northeast of Lowell, Michigan.

On average 150 cyclists take to the paved roads on a variety of routes ranging from 12 miles to 100 miles. All the routes have been meticulously perfected and signed over the 22 years of the tour’s existence.


The registration starts at 7 a.m. to 9 a.m. at the one-room Fallasburg schoolhouse museum with the cost of $35 per person.

“We attract a niche of riders every year,” said FHS president Ken Tamke. “We wanted to do something active. We thought a bike ride would be cool.”

It is the plan to revamp the routes to include a route to the Whites Bridge that will be rebuilt this year. This would include a kayaking option on the Flat River.

“We want to keep it local,” said Tamke.

The historic village is a true hidden gem on the banks of the Flat River founded by John Fallass in 1839. It includes the Tower Farm, the Misner House, the Fallass House, the Fallasburg Covered Bridge and the baseball field with the Fallas Barn built in 1896.

The baseball field serves as home field for the Fallasburg Cubs Vintage Base Ball Club.

The Fallasburg covered bridge spanning 100 feet serves as a gateway to the sleepy village lost in time, that was once a bustling town with sawmills and hotels.

The most popular 28-mile route will take you from the Fallasburg bridge to the covered bridge in Ada and back. All the routes begin and end in Fallasburg.

The grand finale of all the tours is a home-made Italian spaghetti meal served in the yard of the Misner House with the help of eight to 10 volunteers.

“Come and join us this year, enjoy the country and our sleepy little village,” said Tamke.

The FHS donates $1 per rider to support the League of Michigan Bicyclists (LMB) program in memory of ambassador of the bike tour Larry Martin. Martin was hit and killed on the eve of the 17th annual bike tour while riding his bike.

LMB is a lobbying group dedicated to making Michigan a safe place to bike.


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




Fallasburg offers tours to students, groups

Fallasburg reaches out to the community at large

By Emma Palova

Fallasburg, MI- In an effort to raise awareness about ongoing historic preservation at the Fallasburg village located three miles north of Lowell, the Fallasburg Historical Society (FHS) offers tours of the village by appointment.

Murray Lake Elementary students at the Fallasburg school.
Murray Lake Elementary students at the Fallasburg school.

On Wednesday this week, the Fallasburg one-room schoolhouse came alive with children’s voices. First graders from Murray Lake Elementary sat at the desks and listened to the stories of the past. Volunteer Mike Organek went to the school along with Addie Tower Abel, Ronald Topolski, Dottie Blain and many others. The most popular teacher at the time was Mrs. Zona Postma.

At the time, students had to use the outhouse outside and in winter, the wood stove heated the building. The bell in the belfry announced the start and the end of a school day.

Learning the ropes inside the belfry.
Learning the ropes inside the belfry.

Students Layla Wilks and Weston McFarland especially liked the miniature model of the village located in the community room, and the belfry.

“Our school is much bigger,” said McFarland. “I would come back here.”

The program for first graders has been going on for at least 10 years, according to Organek. This year, 69 students participated in the field trip.

“It goes well with the curriculum,” said teacher Karen Eldridge. “The kids learn about the past, present and the future.”

Follow Fallasburg on social media. Put Fallasburg on your calendar as one of many hidden gems in Michigan that you can visit.

The 22nd annual Fallasburg Covered Bridge Bike Tour will take place on July 10th with registration from 7 a.m. to 9 a.m. To pre-register go to http://www.fallasburg.org.

The schoolhouse is open on Sundays from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. until October.

In front of the Fallasburg schoolhouse museum.
In front of the Fallasburg schoolhouse museum.

Call or e-mail to schedule a tour of Fallasburg on the FHS facebook page.





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

Fallasburg Covered Bridge Bike Tour

Pedal through the beautiful countryside at your own pace

By Emma Palova

EW Emma’s Writings

Lowell, MI- The 22nd annual Fallasburg Covered Bridge Bike Tour is set for Sunday, July 10th with registration in person at the one-room schoolhouse from 7 a.m. to 9 a.m.

Pre- registration online is at http://www.fallasburg.org or at the Fallasburg Covered Bridge Bike Tour page for $25 per individual, $35 for family before July 6th. After the deadline and in person, there will be an additional $5 charge.

There are several tour options ranging from 12 miles to 100 miles.

The most traveled route is the 28-mile route to Ada and back from the Fallasburg Covered Bridge to the Ada Covered Bridge , according to Fallasburg Historical Society (FHS) president Ken Tamke,“It is a reasonably flat and easy ride for families and casual riders,” said Tamke.

The second most popular route is the South 50, which travels along rivers and streams through  beautiful farmland.

Although the main reason to bike any of the routes is fitness, the camaraderie and feeling of accomplishment and adventure of a bicycle tour with friends or family is even better.
“It is exhilarating and exciting to set out on a journey and successfully attain your goal, whether it be 12 miles, 28 miles, 50 miles or 100,” said Tamke.
The Covered Bridge Bike Tour has grown from just a handful of registrants to 253 registrants last year. But, 250 registrants means 300 plus riders as family registrations can cover multiple riders.
Fallas CBBT
Fallasburg Covered Bridge Bike Tour
“We’ve had modest gains, with more people joining the fun each year,” said Tamke.
The riders can select the distance they wish to ride from 12 miles to 100. They can also combine routes to get some variety. The 12-mile route climbs up Covered Bridge Road, over MacPherson to Sayles, then along the Flat River into Lowell and back to the village via Lincoln Lake.
The 28-mile route travels into Lowell along Lincoln Lake, then west along Grand River to Ada Park. The half-way point and rest stop is at the Ada Covered Bridge. The route follows the same path back to Fallasburg.
The 50-mile route south follows the same route as the 28, but turns south at Buttrick and heads down to 100th, then back east to Alden Nash and back up to Lowell and Lincoln Lake.
The 50-mile north route follows briefly the same path as the 12, but continues on into Ionia with a rest stop at the Blanchard House, then on to Saranac and back to Lowell along Riverside and eventually to the Fallasburg Village.
Last year approximately 20 riders completed the 100. They do the South 50 in the morning and the North 50 in the afternoon.
Fallas bike tour reg.
Registration at the one-room schoolhouse museum.
All proceeds from the bike tour go for the continued preservation of Fallasburg Village. The historical society uses the funds to maintain properties and implement educational programs.  Fallasburg Historical Society is an all-volunteer organization so monies collected don’t pay a salary, but pay to  fix things and teach people about Fallasburg history.
All routes begin and end in Fallasburg Village. The Misner House is the command center and serves as an outdoor lunchroom.
Dorothy “Dottie” Blain cooks a country-style Italian spaghetti and meatball feast and its vegetarian version  with garlic bread and strawberry shortcake for dessert.
“Our riders absolutely rave about our food,” said Tamke. Additionally, all routes offer home-baked goodies, fruit and water or Gatorade at rest stops along the way.  Each route has a rest stop.
Late Priscilla Lussmeyer came up with the idea of having a bike ride as a fundraiser for the society 22 years ago. She enlisted the help of one of her many friends who was into biking as a means to raise money for the society. It has grown steadily from there.
Tamke is hoping for  275 registrants and over 300 riders, 75 degrees, sunny and no humidity or wind – a perfect West Michigan day.
“I hope no one gets hurt, everyone has a fantastic time and tell all their friends about it so they can participate in the 23rd annual Fallasburg Covered Bridge Bike Tour,” said Tamke.
Tour options (in miles): 12, 28, 40, 50, 62, 78 or 100.
Registration fee: $25 for individuals / $35 for families.
For more information, call Ken Tamke at 616-682-0785 or e-mail kentamke@comcast.net
Directions to Fallasburg
From Lowell: North approximately 3 miles to Fallasburg Park Drive.
Right to entrance of park. Angle right on Covered Bridge Road.
Over covered bridge to schoolhouse. Park in field across the street.
There will be county road signs on Lincoln Lake Road and Fallasburg Park Drive, alerting you to Park/Bridge/Historic Village.
Follow FHS and the Fallasburg Covered Bridge Bike Tour on twitter @fallasburg #fallasburg #fallasburgbiketour #fallasburghistory #fallas and other social media.

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