Redfield Bridge dedication set for early OctoberPublished 5:25pm Sunday, September 30, 2012
George Redfield once said, “Nothing is certain but the law of eternal change.” And, with that in mind, it is worth contemplating what he would think of not only the brand-new Redfield Street Bridge in Ontwa Township but the non-motorized launch that is about to be unveiled at the dedication and ribbon cutting ceremonies sometime in early October.
Redfield was one of Cass County’s pioneers, arriving here in 1835 when he and his brother purchased some 10,000 acres of land. They also were land grant agents in this area for the federal government. Redfield’s great-great grandson, George Bucklen of Bristol, Ind., still owns 440 of Redfield’s 800 acres along Adamsville Road and Redfield Street. It was Bucklen who deeded over one-half acre of land along the southwest edge of Christiana Creek for the launch so people could more easily access the creek for fishing, rafting, canoeing and kayaking.
Bucklen lights up now when he talks about the launch, built this summer by the Cass County Road Commission concurrently with the construction of the new $804,000 bridge. When Bucklen donated Redfield’s land, the road commission absorbed the $35,000 cost for the launch, which is expected to be a popular site, with its native grasses and Joe pye weed for nature lovers.
Redfield was generous himself, selling blocks of land to lower-income residents of early Cass County for homesteading. He not only served his community as one of the first Ontwa Township supervisors, he also served at the state level, as state treasurer, secretary of state, state representative and as a state senator, according to family records as well as Howard Rogers’ “History of Cass County, 1825 to 1875.” Not surprisingly, he was an elector to the state’s constitutional convention in 1850, and an author of the state constitution.
For his part, George Bucklen says that his own family was surprised that he donated the land for the launch, which may be turned over to and maintained by the Michigan Department of Natural Resources. Of the contribution, Bucklen, one of the founding members of the Christiana Creek Coalition, said, “Our hopes are that because it will be well maintained, the public will join in keeping it clean and respect the environment.”
The bridge across Christiana Creek on Redfield Street just east of Adamsville Road in Eastern Ontwa Township was closed in 2009 after an outside firm discovered some major safety issues. After discussion with the Michigan Department of Transportation the road commission elected to lower the weight limit to 20 tons from the legal limit and monitor the bridge on a weekly basis. Critical bridge funding was not available until 2012.
The bridge was constructed in 1959 of wood and five “square barrels,” each of which is 4.5 feet. The new pre-cast concrete box beam structure is 44 feet wide with a 60-foot span in addition a new non-motorized boat launch that will be enjoyed by the residents of Cass County for many years.
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