Whites Bridge and the 1853 Town of Smyrna: Ionia County, Michigan
Ever been to the Michigan town of Smyrna? It's located in Ionia County, south of Belding in Otisco Township between Seely Creek and the Flat River. Ever even HEARD of Smyrna? If not, you will now.
The tale begins with the 1843 arrival of the area's first settler, G.W. Dickson. Calvin Smith arrived that same year, who some historians say was the first white settler; he was followed by N.G. Chase who built the first store. By 1848, a post office had been established by physician Wilbur Fisher.
Dickson platted the village in 1853, choosing the name 'Mount Vernon' (also called 'Mount Vernon Mills'), after George Washington's residence. It was Dr. Fisher who gave the community the name of 'Smyrna', (named after a city in Greece) to intentionally make it memorable.
By the 1880's, Smyrna had grown to 300 and included three blacksmith shops, two churches, doctor's office, flour mills, foundry, general store, grist mill, hotel, post office, saloon, saw mills, wagon shop and various other stores.
One of the town's landmarks was the old Whites Covered Bridge, constructed in 1869 over the Flat River. In July 2013, 144 years later, it burned down and the site was used as a boat launch. It was finally reconstructed in the spring of 2020, and now gives the locals a chance to enjoy their landmark once again.
Today, on the southeast corner of downtown Smyrna (4972 Whites Bridge Road), sits an historical marker with a brief history of Smyrna; on that same site stood the town hotel. Almost all of the above-mentioned businesses are gone, but there are still a few old structures still standing, reminding locals what the town used to be like.
Pay Smyrna a visit on your next Michigan roadtrip; it's a perfect stop, especially if your route takes you north. It's another little slice of Michigan history for you to absorb...cool stuff. Always be respectful & courteous when visiting any out-of-the-way Michigan towns!