Saving a Bridge with Flowers
130 years ago Simsbury got a new bridge. The old bridge was made of wood and had become unsafe.
The new bridge was built in 1892 of metal. Metal bridges were a new technology.
People crossed the new bridge on foot or bicycle. They crossed on horseback or by horse-drawn carriage. The new bridge was 12 feet wide and 183 feet long. It was the pride of Simsbury!
When people began to travel by car, though, there was a problem. The bridge was too narrow. Only one car could cross at a time. People had to wait on each end for their turn to cross.
Finally in 1992—after 100 years—the town built a new bridge nearby. But the town didn’t tear down the old bridge. The old bridge was listed on the National Register of Historic Places. That honor means the bridge is an important piece of history and should be saved.
Today the old bridge is still the pride of Simsbury. You can still cross it on foot or bicycle. It’s connected to the Farmington Canal bike trail.
The old bridge has become a tourist attraction. Every summer it is decorated with flowers! Dominique Avery had the idea. She was inspired by the Bridge of Flowers in Shelburne Falls, Massachusetts.
Avery took her idea to gardening groups and town leaders. Everyone got excited. Many people got involved. Simsbury high school students built flower boxes. A local nursery donated plants. In 1996 volunteers planted the first boxes and hung them on the bridge.
Today 118 boxes and hanging baskets adorn the bridge each summer. Visitors see more than 1,000 plants! Volunteers take care of them every day. In the winter the bridge is decorated with holiday lights and winter greens. In 2021 the town celebrated 25 years of flowers on the bridge.
Old Drake Hill Flower Bridge, 1 Old Bridge Road, Simsbury
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