Exploring Fabius Township and St. Joseph County, Michigan, with side trips all over this Great Lakes state

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Bridges to the bins

At this large farm in Fabius Township, the pipes from the elevators to the bins could be considered bridges...... in the broadest sense of the word.  Not for cars or trains or people but for grain!   I hope Louis la Vache is feeling broadminded today as I submit this photo to the Sunday Bridges meme.  Why a township with so much water has so few bridges over water is beyond me.  My guess is that because our creeks were not mighty, metal culverts were used to channel the water with the road built over the culvert.  A very utilitarian solution though not a very aesthetic one.

But the real problem was too much water.  In the first decades of the 1800's, the incoming Yankee farmers found the land in southern Michigan to be basically swamp and wetlands, with occasional oak openings.  It needed draining to make tillable fields for growing crops.  As a result, the office of drain commissioner dates to to 1837, when first bill passed by the Michigan Legislature was a drainage act and the creation of drain commissioners at the township level. In 1897, the drain commission was made a county office elected every four years during the Presidential elections.  For more on this unique Michigan office, see this Wikipedia article: Drain Commissioner.  Because the drain commissioner can levy tax assessments for needed construction or repair of drains, it is an often very controversial post. 

Enough arcane Michigan local history, for real bridges please visit Sunday Bridges hosted by Louis la Vache proprietor of the Holy Cow Coffee Company.


  1. I like this idea--very clever, It carries something--it goes over something ie. A bridge.

    Interesting subject this diking. Most of Stanwood farmland and both the Skagit and Stillaguamish vallys are/were heavily diked. MB

  2. a drain commissioner--very interesting. if we have a drain commissioner here, there would be endless senate investigations!LOL

    great post.

  3. Interestingly, I was driving past a few similar contraptions and wondered about them (knowing next to nothing about farms).
    I agree, culverts are not very aesthetic.