MICHIGAN SHADOW TOWN: Bridgeton, in Newaygo County
The village that became Bridgeton, Michigan was first settled in 1849 in Newaygo County.
John Chidister built a bridge over the Muskegon River in 1851 and the settlement took its name from the bridge: Bridge Town, later shortened to Bridgeton.
Bridgeton Township was organized in 1852; in 1853 a new covered bridge was constructed, called “The Shingle Bridge” by its builders, Andrew & David Squier.
One year later, in 1854, a sawmill was built by Isaac Merrill (of which Merrill Township was named) and its success made Bridgeton one of the busiest, successful places along the Muskegon River during Michigan’s lumber boom. The river was often full for a good 14 miles straight, jam-packed with logs floating down with the current.
The success of Bridgeton’s lumber output boosted the economy, bringing more settlers and businesses. The village soon had a blacksmith shop, schoolhouse, four sawmills, two stores, and several homes. Amos Slater opened a post office on July 29, 1857, appropriately named the ‘Bridgeton Post Office’. It closed down in 1860, re-opened in June 1861 and shut down again on the last day of 1913, Dec 31.
Today, the mills are gone, as are the other old shops, except for what appears to be a general store. Bridgeton remains a quaint little village along the Muskegon River, bringing a New England feel to mid-western Michigan. Visit someday and see what I mean.