Page last updated August 19th, 2004

Thoughts on the Old Iron Bridge from the Clearwater Conservancy

The Old Iron Bridge


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Bridge Updates

  • New Area Minister swims for Donations
    Marty McCleary, will swim width of Torch Lake on August 28th to help raise needed funds to restore the Historic "Old Iron Bridge" in Clearwater Township

  • Four Day Petition Drive
    We did a four day petition drive in December of 2001 and collected nearly 1000 signatures to make this 120 year-old landmark, a historic bridge. On January 15, 2002, the Clearwater Township Board declared the "Old Iron Bridge" and the Glade Valley Road a local historic site. A special thanks to all those who made this possible by signing the petitions!

This website is dedicated to keeping the Greenwalt Bridge public. 

Please email any opinions or thoughts on this matter to

A recent letter to the editor sent to the Leader & Kalkaskian:

Where have all the old bridges gone? 

Help! I have just learned that one of the most beautiful spots in all of Clearwater Twp. may quietly become private. I am speaking of Greenwalt Bridge, or as newcomers in Clearwater Twp. might call the Old Iron Bridge.

Anyone who has enjoyed fishing that section of Rapid River, or enjoyed the walk and serenity of this historic bridge, please become concerned. Public accesses and seasonal roads are forever being closed, because we don't hear soon enough, or we do not voice our opinions to our local officials. 

Please contact the Kalkaska County Road officials, or the Clearwater Twp. Board members if you want this road to remain public. It is located north of Valley Road approximately 1 mile east of Rapid City. It is a two-track and shows recent signs of being logged. You may want to park your vehicle near Valley Road and walk 1/8 mile to the
site. For further information, please visit the website: . You may email your opinion from this site. 
Hurry! I need your help!

Thank you for your time and concern.


Dale Gaylord
Fisherwoman and Lover of Nature
Clearwater Twp.
Rapid City

Comments Below:

 I am tired of only the rich people being able to have a beautiful view. To me, that is another form of discrimination. I would like all the public access to stay right where they are and leave us some small part of our rights to enjoy our views of the nature and beauty.

We can't allow our Government to take away any more than they have already. We pay taxes and as much as we pay, we should be able to live with the same rights to see the lands as they are!!! Thank you!

Mrs. Bergman

January 15, 2002

Kalkaska Genealogical Society
P.O. Box 353
Kalkaska, MI 49646

Clearwater Conservancy
Rapid City, MI 49676

Congratulations to the people of the Rapid City area for establishing the Clearwater Conservancy! I applaud your group for taking steps to preserve the Old Iron Bridge in Rapid City as a historical site.

Kalkaska County has a great history, but there are few historic sites left for future generations to explore and enjoy. After compiling the Kalkaska County history book "Big Trout, Black Gold", I am convinced people are interested in our history and it is more important than ever to preserve what few sites we have left.

I wish you success in preserving the Old Iron Bridge. Future generations can learn about our history without turning the pages in a history book to look at a photograph and read a description of where the bridge once stood.

Dawn Triplett, President
Kalkaska Genealogical Society

Even though I have never been to the bridge .... I do have feelings for it.... and other items around the area like this... I am a long time resident of the area and it always saddens me to see something that I grew up with and used as a child go to High profile ... money costing.... money sucking .... developers.... And I have seen a lot of things happen in the area....

Good Luck to your cause...

Rebecca Lawrence

Just visited your website. A wonderful testament to preserving a part of American history. My great-great-great grandfather, Zenas King was the bridge builder. You can find more information about Zenas and the King Bridge Company at our website: Keep up the good work!

Christopher King Sloan

Growing up in Rapid City, I too agree that this bridge must remain open to the public. As a child I also have many memories of this bridge. Fishing there, riding horses there, taking my visiting family there, and to Seven Bridges. Going there for a quite spot. Praying to God from that bridge in times of trouble. One day driving to Rapid City for a hair cut at Mona's, my middle son Zack ask me why I drove all the way to Rapid City to get my hair cut. To see Mona, I replied.
Well why? Were you in the same grade in school?
Did you hang out together?
Not really.
Do you love her?
Well, I don't see how you could then.
And, I still don't see why then you drive all the way out here to get a hair cut. It was at that time it really did "hit me". With tears in my eyes, I tried to explain. As a child growing up in Rapid City we were all very blessed. It was much smaller then. Every kid knew ever other kid in town. We all had fun together, played on the playground at school TOGETHER. Did things together. Life was simple. Life was great. Two of the greatest things was Rapid River, and all the friends you had. There was not then or now, a lot for kids to do in Rapid City, but when we
were little we didn't know it, we had the river and bunch of wonderful friends. I don't know if he understood that, I don't know as if you could, unless you one of the "Rapid City Children" that grew up there. Or yourself had grown up in a small town. This Bridge is one of our friends. Gave us something to do, some where to go. Please do not take this away from our children or their children. If this bridge were to give just one more child somewhere to fish, some where to go, that in its self is a blessing. It is a very historical spot in our county. It should be saved for the future. Our future and the future generations of Kalkaska County.

Thank You all for saving "our" old Iron Bridge.

Grace Hutchinson Beland

The 1st time I was down there at the Old Iron Bridge was in the year 1937, because we moved to the house next to the
Glade Valley Rd. where the bridge is located. The bridge existed at that time, and we use go down there to fish or
just to take walks with my children. My daughter, Phyillis is 63, and I took her often for walks to the bridge when
she was just a baby.

My son, Marty, is 37 and the bridge has and always has been a big part of his life. His friends would always fish,
swim, or play there all the time. He lives near the bridge now and often visits it with his little daughters.

Zeke Hendersonís first trip to the bridge was in 1940, and we took him there on many family outings. He always came
over to visit with us after his mom died when he was 2.
Mike Peck, my husband, and I loved to fish there as it was always a great access to the river with good fishing. He
worked for the Greenwalt family who lived across the bridge on a working farm before 1937. The bridge was there
long before then.

My name was Geroldine Hughey.

I really think this bridge is of Historic value and should be preserved as a historic site.


Lula Geraldine (Hughey) Peck
formally Rapid City resident

I`m 64 and remember riding my horse on the Greenwalt road about every day or so to see grandma and grandpa Greenwalt
who were beautiful elderly people. They always kept the place beautiful when they were living.

They raised bird dogs, and had one called Mike. I loved playing in the river by the bridge (I wasnít allowed to go
far from the bridge because Grandma and Grandpa wanted to keep an eye on me. They enjoyed it and I wasn't very
big). Mike loved the water and would retrieve sticks that I`d throw out in the river for him.
I also remember Grandpa and I catching some fish( I think Grandpa caught most of them, we didn't tell anyone
though.), we took them up to the house and Grandma cooked them, there's nothing better than fresh fish caught from
water so clean and clear that you could safely drink it.
If I can help save the bridge, it would be worth it. It is part of history in this area. Itís the only thing left
that isnít destroyed around here.

Ida Underhill Linderleaf
Rapid City

We used to live at the Greenwalt farm across the Iron Bridge, for one winter when our daughter was just a baby 64
years ago, in 1937. The Iron Bridge had been there long before then.

My grandma and grandpa, Lidia and Bill Barber had rented a pasture there across the river near the Greenwalt farm.
Jag Mosher, use to work for my grandma Barber, in 1932 when I was 14 years old, after my grandfather died. He would
drive the cattle across the bridge to graze during the day and bring them home at night to milk, back to Valley Road
where there is now a trailer park. We would go down there and stay with Grandma Barber during the week.
As my large family was growing up through the years we would always go black berrying near the bridge.


Clearwater life-long resident
Helen Barber Deater

My grandparents, Joseph Mariage and Iva Mariage used to go down to that bridge on Sundays with the whole family
around 1920, and they would take a picnic lunch and fish.
One time my grandmother dropped a hook under the bridge and she jerked and nothing came up. So she tried again and
nothing again. As the story goes, my Uncle John Mariage grabbed the hook and tugged back, after she thought she
had a Ďbigí one he came up from under the bridge surprising her.

It was always a nice place to swim and fish throughout the years.

We used to go down there to visit the Greenwalt family and always going across the bridge was a favorite thing to
do. It was in the early 40ís and I was about 12 or 14 years old.

The bridge should not be harmed in any way and should stay there as is. It is the last remaining ties to the
history of our area. It is beautiful there and many people still enjoy itís serene beauty and fishing holes.
Actually, I think the site should be expanded and made into a park in memory of our forefathers who built our roads
and bridges over 100 years ago.
If I can be of more help, please call me.

Sincerely Yours,

Joe Mariage
Rapid City

My dad, George Underhill, and his family were good friends with the Greenwalt family who lived across the bridge.
The bridge had been there for a long time before then. My dad, used to pasture cattle down on the Greenwalt farm in
1944. Kay Driggett, my sister took care of all their farm animals when she was a teenager in the 40s. There was
fruit trees and plenty of fertile land across the Iron Bridge.

I fished down there in the 1950s.

I would like to see the bridge preserved as a historical bridge.


William (Bill) Underhill
Rapid City

I have lived in the community of Rapid City on Valley Road, about 63 years, across the road from the Glade Valley
Rd. where the Iron Bridge is located. It was called Babcock Rd. for a while because of the Babcock family living
back in there. Greenwalts lived there also and so did the Shelts family who grew trees and nursery stock, and
bushes. The Babcocks grew glades and eventually the roadís name was turned to Glade Valley.

On the north side of the bridge there were 40 acres there that needed a road built to it, and I helped build it in
1938. I fished that bridge many, many times and taught my grandson to fish down there.
It is a nice stream and a beautiful place to visit. In my view the bridge hasnít deteriorated at all and looks the
same as it always did. It is so quiet and beautiful down there and should always stay that way.

My question is why should this road and bridge be closed to satisfy just a small number of private people when
hundreds do and would like to continue to use this bridge and access for their enjoyment? It is a public road and
bridge and should stay that way.

If I can help to further this effort to preserve the bridge forever, please let me know.


Ford Robinson
Rapid City

SAVE THE BRIDGE for us and all who cherish our Clearwater Township Heritage. We will NEVER wish we hadn't saved it. But we could be very sad not to have done our best to keep it.

George & Faith Bushnell

What a lovely spot to visit, sit, ponder and view the wonders of nature. We truly feel this bridge should be preserved so all who are interested can enjoy.

Bill and Fran Garrock, Rapid City

Greenwalt bridge is a public area, has always been a public area and hopefully will always be! With the help and interest of concerned citizens (and not just local people), it will be possible to put a stop to the Clearwater Township Board giving away part of our heritage. A request to take a burden off the Township's hands sure did stir up some deep memories and emotions for many people. What a welcomed and refreshing reaction from our local citizens! All my family have enjoyed this bridge for fishing, walking access, and the beauty it adds to our wonderful community. If your now sure about the bridge just go back to the front page and enjoy the photos.

Linda Forward

I think that if you are serious about saving the Iron Bridge that you should try to get the support of an Historical society and further publicize the intent of the people who are trying to close it to the public. It seems that those of us who were born and raised in this beautiful country have, or years, taken for granted that the scenic beauty of the area was free for all to appreciate and enjoy. Now, in recent years, it has became apparent that those with the bucks to buy up vast tracts of property and close it to the general public don't share the feeling that everyone should be entitled to the scenic beauty of the land FOR FREE. The Michigan department of Natural resources will likely be of no help since they have set back and let multiple opportunities to acquire access properties along many lakes and streams slip by and now it is in the hands of developers and a few private individuals and access is denied to the general public.

I'm personally not familiar with the bridge at issue here but I share your concerns. I was born in Sharon and as a kid, it didn't matter who owned what, all were welcome to come and go and enjoy equally. Now it reminds me of a bunch of selfish kids arguing about who owns what. It's mine so keep your hands off it!!!

Good luck in your efforts!

Jesse L. Stuck

The Bridge is no different then the old maple trees in my Grandmothers front yard (Mrs. Harlan), they have been there forever. Wouldn't cut those if i was offered a million. There part of the area's History.

Jeremiah Harlan

I would like to go on record as opposing any changes in ownership of "The Iron Bridge"

Mike Harlan

They got rid of the old Torch Swing Bridge, What's next? Is anything and everything for sale?


My home was in Stanton, MI. I am a consulting engineer. Bridges of this design are no longer built. The design was simple and economical. And also easy of structural analysis. They do not build them like this any more. Keep it for the sake of history. The past is always a good investment. The news story was in the TC Record-Eagle of May 29.

Robert J. McNutt, P E

It's interesting to note that all of the comments on site are in favor of keeping the bridge, not too mention other sites of historical, cultural, or recreational value. Throughout the region, rapid changes that have taken place threaten sites just like this bridge. I encourage everyone who posted here to continue fighting to maintain the quality of life that makes northern Michigan so special, and to keep in mind that your neighbors in other parts of the region are also struggling to preserve the character of the area. Join forces with others who are working to maintain the peace and beauty of northern Michigan. Working together we can have greater positive impact on this area.

S. Vorpagel

Greedy landowners are snatching up any parcels and accesses they can find in an attempt to keep something of rare value away from the public thereby increasing the value of their own holdings. They have no concern for the people who aren't as well off. Once this bridge and easement goes private it will be lost forever. It is the responsibility of local governments to see that this doesn't happen. Clearwater township can't afford to take a wait and see attitude. We can't rely on the possibility that the State of Michigan might save us. We have to control our own resources and manage them for the benefit of the residents of the community.

To the township board: Please don't go down in history as the people who wouldn't fight to save our heritage!

Bill Lewandowski

During October of 1999, I was on vacation and had a chance to look at the old iron bridge.  I enjoyed looking at the bridge.  It has history and is strong enough to stay in use to access some fine woods and streams. I hope to see it again the next time I visit the area.

Brad Blake,  Vacaville, CA

Don't let the real world die!!!! Keep this alive for the kid of all ages to enjoy. Life is made for learning about old and new. We learn more from the passed most of the time any way!! SO WHY NOT KEEP THE HISTORY GOING!!!!!!!!

Susan Alberts

If you will not leave anything alone there will be nothing left in this entire country except for bad memories. paved roads, you will never see anything again that was so beautiful in the 1800,s. this country use to be the same oh so beautiful. Now it's gone forever. LEAVE NATURE AND WILD LIFE TO THEMSELVES IN EVERY STATE AND COUNTRY IN THIS WORLD.

Stephanie Brewer

This Bridge and a girl named Chris took my heart when I was young. We sat with our feet in the water on this Bridge, me and a Chris, She took my love, never to return it. Some day I hope to see my love here, on this Bridge to fill this hole in my heart

Frank M. Cook

I grew up by the old iron bridge...many a summer afternoon was spent swimming under the bridge and fishing with the Turk, Sipperly, Margie, Van and Lambert kids...It would be a sad thing to loose this wonderful memorial to all who grew up around this particular stretch of the river.

Sandi H.

I had the pleasure of seeing this bridge and area in October 1999 as I toured the area during the High Color season. I had little time to enjoy this bridge and the park and had forgotten my camera. I'm planning on returning and take in the beauty of the both this summer. I would be very disappointed not being able to take pictures and after telling others in lower Michigan, find it destroyed. The past is our present and the future.

David Huggett

I don`t understand why the people want to destroy all the things of history and beauty around here, If they keep doing this what will we have to enjoy and remember? I`m 64 and remember riding my horse on the Greenwalt road about every day or so to see grandma and Grandpa Greenwalt who were beautiful elderly people. They always kept the place beautiful when they were living.
They raised bard dogs, and had one called Mike, I loved playing in the river by the bridge (I wasn1t allowed togo far from the bridge because Grandma and Grandpa wanted to keep an eye on me,They enjoyed it and Iwas`t very big.). Mike loved the water and would retrieve sticks I`d throw out in the river for him. I also remember Grandpa and I catching some fish( I think Grandpa caught most of them, we didn't tell anyone though.), we took them up to the house and Grandma cooked them, their`s nothing better than fresh fish caught from water so clean and clear that you could safely drink it.
The only reason someone wants to buy it lumber it off and make more money,The can afford it.
Is there any reason the county couldn`t get a lumber company clear some of it, and use the money to fix up the old bridge so it would be safe. Then I`m sure some of us old folks that don`t have a lot of money(which it all comes down to.) would do what ever we possibly could to fix it up for a nice picnic spot or some thing.
Look what happened to the old Rugg Hall, they tore the buildingdown wooded it off ,ended a part of history, (my Grandfather was John Rugg),and left a mess. Why? because of money.

Ida Underhill Linderleaf

I think that it is a good idea to save things like this bridge that are from our past.  If we are to take this piece of our history then what is next to be taken away from our future residents of this town.  As some stated they use the bridge for fishing activities. If we are to take away this then we are taking away some people's extra curricular outdoor activities.  I personally would like to see this to stay because I would like my children some day to be able to see it as a part of our history.

Jennifer Prough

I've spent many years fishing and hunting in that area and would hate to lose it. There used to be some public land there. Was that sold off?

Vic Guy

I am pleased to see support for retaining the Greenwalt Bridge and will write to the Kalkaska County Road Commission today to implore them to keep the property public.  We are losing too much property to inidividuals, forever changing the history of our beautiful Northern Michigan.

Maryanne Jorgensen

Did anyone think maybe the fish would miss the bridge? 

A Concerned Angler

My name is Rick Evans and I would like to help preserve the current public status of the iron bridge. If anyone has any info or email addresses of various governing bodies where we could directly send our concerns, that would be of much help. Thanks for letting us know about this situation and I would appreciate any additional info available.

Rick Evans

The Rapid River is the most beautiful river I know. It is my favorite spot for fishing. Losing the bridge would be losing a friend.

Angela Miller

Please save our old landmarks.  In this age of high tech everything, it is nice to have reminders of the days when life was calm and quiet the way GOD made it.  I grew up in Rapid City, and I love the reminders of the way life used to be.  Please don't destroy those remaining places that are left


Marcia Coffia

To Whom It May Concern,

I visited the Old Iron Bridge for the first time this past summer, in August, with a friend of mine from Grand Valley State University.  He told me of this great old bridge near his home that's been around for years, and he said that it was something that I needed to see.

So, we went to the bridge and fished off of it for a few hours.  It was amazing to me that a piece of history was still around, something that can show the people of today where we've come from.  It made me thankful for the places that we've come from in the past century, and it made the coming of the new century hopeful for me.

 I was told by this friend of mine, just recently, that this bridge is in danger of being lost to future generations who need to see the same thing that I saw in that Old Iron Bridge.  I think that it would be a travesty of the days in which we live if such a fine piece of history was lost because of the carelessness of the people who should love it the most.

If it means anything to the people of your fine city, this monument needs to be preserved, in order to illustrate the great amount of progress that we've made in the past 100 years, and as an inspiration for future generations in the century to come.

Thank you for listening to my cry for action, 

Phil Brackett
Concerned Visitor

As a transplant from Detroit to Antrim County 25 years ago, and having spent much of my retirement in environmental and preservation causes, let me add my voice to those who are recommending that this bridge and road be kept in public hands.  We have been successful in Antrim County in keeping such losses to a minimum, and I commend these residents of Kalkaska County in bringing this issue to the elected officials for a decision not to transfer this public property to private hands.

Allen J. Pecar
Mancelona, Michigan

A man on Boardman River build his house on one side and he assumed that he could build a bridge to his home after... the house was built, but he found that their were a few people that still cared about the lakes and  the rivers and streams... and Thank God for those handful of people found a way to do all the fighting for the rest of us that are to busy or we don't take the time to protect our area.

Thanks a million and May God Bless
Bonnie Lundquist
Antrim County Resident

It would be nice if this piece of history could be preserved, instead of sold.  Granted, the old iron bridge might not do much for commerce or add dollars to the local economy, but beauty and memories are priceless and it is nice when politicians can go out of their way to preserve these things for future generations.

As the credit card commercial says "Some things money can't buy".  The Rapid River and its many scenic views are really special to our area of this Water Wonderland.  It seems that they are worthy of preservation.

Jerry Straub

The test of our community's character may be in how well we keep and safeguard the unique natural and historical features that have been passed down through the generations for the benefit of all. We can't afford to lose this old iron bridge, this special place, access to this stretch of the river. And it's not ours to sell or trade. It belongs to  the people of the community, some of whom aren't even born yet.

Rick Waterman

Where have all the old bridges gone?  They, along with many other types of historic sites have been lost to "progress".  But they will always be in our hearts and in our souls.  They, because of our memories of them, will always be a part of us.  For all of us who have had such rich memories  (some old memories, some very new memories) we hold Greenwalt Bridge as a cherished loved one.  And I feel that I must pity anyone who does not have special place to hold in their heart the way we do our bridge. And it is our bridge.  We are the public.  It is our heritage.  It was our families who struggled to give us places that we could  care for and make a part of us through our memories.  I think of my parents Peanut and Agnes Van and how much they gave to this community to make it a place of rich memories for all of us.  My dad's family came here in the 1800's and settled this town and named it Fredrick's Corners.  I think how each generation made their own memories and  then handed down the legacy of love for this area.  If we let the bridge be taken over by a private land owner what are we leaving for the next generations to fill their hearts and their memories?  Once a land mark or historical site is gone (such as the old hotel) it is gone forever!  I find that so sad.  I called Leone Guy, she is 95 or 96 years old, and she told me stories of being taken to the bridge as a small child.  She thinks the bridge was called Winnemore Bridge and feels that it must be over 100 years old. She is very apposed to giving the bridge to a private land owner to destroy.  I spoke with my aunt, Geri Peck, who remembers first going to the bridge in 1937 and of all the memories she has of the wonderful times she and other family members had and still have there.  I spoke with my uncle, Zeke Henderson, and he told me that he was 3 years old the first time Aunt Geri took him down to the bridge.  The list of people goes on and on, all with wonderful stories of when they went to the bridge and the things they did there.  Fishing, hiking, mushroom picking, wading. tubing, etc.  When this private land owner is gone the bridge will still be living on to give us and future generations the kind of memories that make our hearts and souls stronger and warmer.  When I walked down to the bridge recently, I thought of how first you hear the sound of the river, then after a while you come within site of the bridge and you smell the water and the sites and sounds and smells all combine to bring peace and to bring back memories.  There is no amount of money in the world that could buy that site, that sound, that feeling!  I will do whatever it takes to preserve our bridge! 

Sincerely, Rhonda Vasher

Where have all the beautiful old bridges gone?  They have been the victims of road boards and county commissioners who believe new is better and private developers always have the best interest of the public in mind.  Antrim county is fast becoming a clone of Michigan's' Southern counties and that is an unfortunate direction. Just look at what some individuals are attempting, in the name of progress, to redevelop the Jordan River and its' valley and all other natural beauty locations in NW Michigan.  With the lost of the publics access to our forest, rivers, lakes and streams, and the development in, around and on, the entire state will become to look like Detroit, from its Southern border to the Northern border. This is progress for the public?  I think not. County commissioners have an equal duty to protect the environment of the land as will as the environment of all the people. Yes, save the bridge, roads, streams, river and public access to each.

Vern D. Weller -- Antrim county resident


I am opposed to transferring ownership of the road and the Old Iron Bridge off of Valley Road to a private individual. This road and bridge provide and excellent access site to a very productive portion of Rapid River.  It is close enough to town and Kellogg Road to provide a near perfect distance to fish.  I see many people walk up or down Valley Road in waders carrying a fishing pole either going to or coming from the Old Iron Bridge. It is also a great place to walk or bike. This spot is and has been an important part of my childhood and life.  The peacefulness and undeveloped solitude of the place is very rare now days. Its unique nature (show me another bridge like it) and location should make it a place to save and protect. I know how compelling a request to obtain private ownership of public property can be. I hope that our board puts the public interests firsts. 

Rick Henderson

My family and I have lived on Valley Road near the Old Iron Bridge (also called Greenwalt Bridge) since before I was born.  I have spent a lifetime wading, swimming, fishing and tubing down Rapid River starting at the Old Iron Bridge.  My friends and I go there several times a year to fish. I also walk the route from my house to the end of the public road several times a week before my dog passed away this summer. It is a beautiful walk. I am VERY MUCH opposed to giving this public road and historical site to a private individual.  Public access opportunities are shrinking or becoming more crowded as more people move here.  I have a lot of found memories of that old bridge and I want my nephews and friends kids to have the same chance I did!

 Dennis Henderson -- 12/16/1999

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