The old bridges of Antrim County

Nancy Ritsema Contributing writer

In Antrim County, which boasts the famous Chain of Lakes with connecting rivers, a wide variety of early iron, concrete and steel bridges were a necessity. Antrim’s old bridges were picturesque as well as practical and local area photographers from the early 20th century left black and white photographs which provide a visual record of them today. 

As early as 1875, in the lower Chain of Lakes, a makeshift barge bridge was positioned across the narrows of Clam River, a popular boat passage to and from Torch Lake. With aprons on each end for ease of driving teams and wagons up onto the barge and off again, the barge was pulled upstream when boats needed to pass and then released to float back into position for horse and buggy bridge crossings. It was the Chain of Lakes’ first significant bridge.

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