From Wellston, we drive up High Bridge Road and cross over the Manistee River. High Bridge was the name of a magnificent bridge constructed during 1888-1889 to span the river. The railroad bridge was 1,170 feet long and stood 97 feet above the water. The bridge opened in 1890 and was the highest and longest bridge in Michigan. Because of the height, the bridge was known to sway, so a 5 mph speed linmit was imposed. Longer trains had to have two engines front and back. This allowed the train to divide and reduce the sway and load. Passengers in the train looking out the windows could not see the rail deck so the train seemed to fly in air. After 65 years of service, the High Bridge was dismantled in 1955. The bridge was located 1,650 feet East (upstream) of the present High Bridge road. You can see a scale model of the bridge in the Brethern Museum on summer weekends. Maybe there are three cultural Sites!!
Traveling past High Bridge, you go through Brethern. A town that is 'the best town by a dam site'. Tippy Dam, that is. James Earl Jones went to school here at the historical building on the corner. Hold it, are there four sites on this tour? Just a few miles north of Brethern, we come to Kaleva. They have a small community camping park for visitng sportsmen/women.
Kaleva was first know in the late 1800's as Manistee Crossing. Two railroads had tracks to transport the white pine lumber from the area. Finnish immigrants were lured here around 1900 by a newspaper advertisement that promised rich, cheap farmland. When they arrived they found cut-over, barren, and desolate land. They could not return so they stayed and named the town 'Kalevala' after the Finnish epic poem. The streets still carry the Finnish names from the poem.
This is the first stop on the 'Culture Tour'. This giant grasshopper was designed and built with a Service Learning High School group and a local welder, who lives on my street, Tippy Dam Road. It is made from car parts and represents the key character in the Grasshopper Plague that ruined the early crops. The people prayed to a Saint to deliver them from this plague. Evidently, it worked! Today visitors have their picture taken beside or on top of this bug. The lady above was in my fouth grade class in Grand Rapids over 43 years ago!
Next on the culture tour is the world famous Bottle House.
The Kaleva Bottle House is a popular tourist attraction. Built by John Makinen out of 60, 000 bottles from his bottling factory. He completed the house in 1941 but never lived in it. He died before the family could move. It is listed in the National Register of Historical Places.
This is the front of the house , which is a neat museum open on summer weekends from 12 - 4. It contains a very interesting collection of early historical items of the people who lived here.
You can see the bottles layed on their side and cemented in place. People who live in glass houses, shouldn't..........................!
There you have it. You have just completed the 'Culture Tour'! So when you visit Don's Fish Camp, bring your camera, we just might stop at these sites.