Located in the rural fringe of the rapidly expanding Grand Rapids metropolitan area, generally in the southeast quadrant of Kent County, the Township Of Vergennes can be characterized in several distinctive areas.
There are several natural features within the Township of Vergennes Which are worthy of consideration in the comprehensive planning exercise: The eastern third of the Township is traversed by the Flat River which provides attractive valleys and recreation opportunities for area residents as well as important Habitat for wildlife.
This is a very short history compiled for the Lowell Chamber of Commerce in 1999, followed by a bit on the Fallasburg Covered Bridge. The most interesting written history we have is a product of the Vergennes Club, a group of township ladies that has met monthly since 1914. They undertook a project in 1984 called Vergennes Living History, a written compilation of the remembrances of early residents, and it is a treasure they have agreed to share on our web site. We would love to add any other written or photographic history residents may have to share. And if anyone would like to work on a community service project to compile the information received, they may call or E-mail the township for further information.
Vergennes Township was first settled in 1836 by Sylvester Hodges of New York State, and organized in 1838, with Rodney Robinson as its first Supervisor. There were 19 families in the Township at that time. The land was an unbroken wilderness, which soon was converted into fine farms. Mills were erected on several streams, schoolhouses were erected, villages incorporated and commerce encouraged. The present City of Lowell and Vergennes were two sister towns, in substance, one settlement, which the township line about equally divided.
Today, Vergennes is home to 3500 residents. Still rural in nature, the land is rolling and wooded where not farmed or otherwise developed. Lowell High School is located on Vergennes Road, near the intersection of Alden Nash which divides the township in half. Vergennes is also home
to 1500 hundred acres of public land, including the 800 acre Lowell State Game Area. The 530 acre Fallasburg Park, one of the most popular parks operated by the Kent County Parks Commission, is located on the banks of the Flat River, a State designated Natural River, which traverses the Eastern side of the township. The township hosts an 18 hole golf course and several Bed and Breakfast operations, as well as the Lowell Airport, which is utilized by private aircraft.
In 1839, John W. Fallas built a bridge over the Flat River on the spot where the covered bridge stands today. It was not a covered bridge, nor were the next two, all succumbing to the ravages of winter, severe weather, and time. In 1871, the residents of the Village of Fallasburg hired the firm of Jared Brasee and Company to construct a sturdier covered bridge. In 1905 the original wooden pilings were replaced with concrete. Several renovations have taken place over the years, the latest being in 1994 by the Kent County Road Commission.
The bridge has played a role in numerous television commercials, and has been the subject of countless photographers and painters. Serving as an entrance to the Historic Village of Fallasburg, the covered bridge stands as a testament to what the village once was for countless West Michigan residents.