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The Hand Hewn Bridge

The covered bridge in Northern Michigan

The ceiling of a covered bridge in Alpena, Michigan. Photo by Matthew Donnellon

US 23 is one of the prettiest stretches of highway in the country, with most of it hugging Lake Huron on one side and the forest on the other.

I was on my way to Alpena, Michigan easily one of the largest cities past the thumb. Most people are headed there for the Brown Trout Festival at this time of year, but I was going for a different reason. With white caps dotting the water on right, I made my way along the road to one of my favorite cities, and one of my favorite structures.

The Bridge, photo by Matthew Donnellon (author)

Just a stone's thrown from MidMichigan Medical Center, Mike Kendziorski built the bridge with his sons, with the structure connecting Island Park to the nearby Duck Park, and unveiled in 2015. The bridge is hand hewn and it is one of my favorite places to go. You can rent canoes or kayaks and circumnavigate the island, or take the terrestrial route, which also allows dogs.

This bridge is really something else. It's a monument to craftsmanship of years past. The handiwork is everywhere on the bridge.

Photo by Matthew Donnellon

In the photo above you can clearly see the marks left by the axe. Instead of using a mill to create dimensional lumber, the crafts men chops off each side to turn a round log into a square piece that he can then use at the structure. Each piece of wood on this bridge had to take hours on work, as every piece was built by hand.

The craftsmanship isn't the only thing about this place I like.

It's also one of the best places in the state to take pictures and every one knows, that what's most important.

What fun is seeing something cool if you can't share with thousands of your closest friends on Instagram.

For instance this is one of my favorite shots.

Photo by Matthew Donnellon

I love the lights against the wood. It feels like you're looking at some old barn. The rich hues of the wood come through and it gives off that perfect rustic feeling.

There's also a black and white version that always gives me haunted house vibes. I've been here in October and I always thought it would be a great spot for a horror story.

Photo by Matthew Donnellon

The bridge isn't the only spot for cool shots. There a vintage water tower next to it and it's one of the more impressive structures in town. In fact, the water tower is so recognizable its on all the city merchandise.

Photo by Matthew Donnellon

I'm not the world's greatest photographer but I think I stumbled on a great shot here. The low angle highlights the height, and the black and white filter really shows off the texture of the wood, which like the bridge is made of hand hewn lumber as well.

And next to the bridge is an park on a small island.

Photo by Matthew Donnellon

This picture is from the top of the stairs leading to the trails that weaves around the small island. The island is structured show off different habitats in Michigan and includes, a marsh, a meadow, the forest, as well a the river bank. A number of different bird species live on the island.

If you're ever roaming around northern Michigan you might want to stop by its a great spot to spend some time, to have a picnic, or even just to rest for a few minutes.

travel photography
Matthew Donnellon
Matthew Donnellon
Read next: Camping > Hotels
Matthew Donnellon

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