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Summer Stay-cation ’11 – New Richmond Bridge Park

This week for our Summer Stay-cation day I dragged Dave and the boys down a dirt road on an adventure to an obscure historical site.

We didn’t have a lot of time. The weather wasn’t great. Three birthdays and several trips to the doctor and pharmacy over the last few weeks kind of depleted out entertainment budget. So I got creative, and took us to New Richmond Bridge County Park, a place I was curious about for a long time.

The directions took us down Old Allegan Road. They aren’t kidding when they say it’s old. It isn’t paved. It’s heavily wooded. It’s out in the middle of nowhere. You drive for a long time, sometimes winding around, until you wonder if the GPS really knows where you are. Then you emerge on the little town of New Richmond.

Now, New Richmond isn’t officially a town. It’s an unincorporated area where a few houses and some historic old buildings sit together near the point where the Kalamazoo and Rabbit rivers meet. New Richmond Bridge County Park is located right on the waters meet. See the difference in the color of waters in the photo on the right? That’s where the rivers merge. I just thought that was kind of neat. I’m easily impressed.

The park turned out to be one of those little hidden treasures. You’ve heard of the Pure Michigan tourism campaign? This is Pure Michigan.

Well, kind of. Fishing, canoeing and kayaking are all available. However, considering all the signs posted that said, “Do Not Swim. Do Not Drink,” I’m not sure I’d recommend it. Sadly the Kalamazoo river was polluted by the milling industry that thrived in our area years ago. They are working on cleaning it up, but it’s a long process.

It is pretty to look at though.

I really wish I had better pictures for you. I took my camera, but forgot to put the memory card in it. Again. So all I have are a few snaps from a camera phone. They really don’t do it justice.

There are two bridges at the park that cross the Kalamazoo river. One is a historic swing bridge that once carried automobile traffic, and was restored as a pedestrian bridge. It’s called a swing bridge, because at one time the center of the bridge turned or swung out to open it so that boats on the river could pass through. Behind the swing bridge is a railroad bridge that also crosses the river. I believe it used to turn also. The railroad bridge is still in use with as many at 40 trains a day crossing it.

David is fascinated by trains, and Wade’s starting to take an interest in them also. I really hoped a train would come by while we were there. Unfortunately it didn’t.

There’s more to see there besides just the bridges though. A newly built boardwalk that’s connected to the swing bridge winds along the river, and through the wooded banks and marsh. It’s a beautiful setting. We spotted morel mushrooms, snakes grass, early spring wildflowers, forest vines and frogs along the path. It’s possible the frogs had seven toes. We didn’t get close enough to look.

This was just a simple excursion, but the boys enjoyed the nature walk and running back and forth across the the bridge. Normally David thinks parks that don’t have playgrounds are, and I quote, “Stupid!” But he liked this one. We all agreed to come back again for a picnic when the weather is better. Maybe we’ll even see a train.

Disclosure: We’re Stay-cationing all summer long in West Michigan. Come back each week to see where we go next. The state of Michigan isn’t paying me to say this. I really like Michigan. When it’s not snowing.

Want to find out more about what’s going on locally? This post is linked to the West Michigan Link-Up, where you can see what everyone else is up to!

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3 Responses to Summer Stay-cation ’11 – New Richmond Bridge Park

  1. Sounds like a great place! I want to go this summer with you. Let’s plan a day for grandma & grandpa to go on a picnic.

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