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Travel New England: Old Drake Hill Flower Bridge

 


Nestled in the town of Simsbury, Connecticut is a rather unique bridge that crosses some 18 feet over the Farmington River. That bridge is the Old Drake Hill Flower Bridge. Built in 1892 by J.E. Buddington of New Haven, Connecticut, this old metal truss bridge is 183 feet in length and has served various types of transportation modes throughout its history. In fact, it is one of only three Parker through truss bridges that remain in the State of Connecticut. While people had crossed the Drake Hill Road bridge for decades, whether it be with a horse and buggy or a car, I'm not sure that people from earlier generations could have imagined the current chapter of this bridge's life.

While a modern two lane bridge was opened just to the north of the Old Drake Hill Flower Bridge in 1992, the old bridge was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1984. Given its status as a historic bridge, the old bridge remained in use for pedestrians and bicycles. Then in 1995, the bridge was restored at the cost of $575,000, with 80% of the cost being handled through federal transportation grants.

Today's chapter in the life of the Old Drake Hill Flower Bridge got its start in 1996, when the idea came about to beautify the bridge in the spirit of the Bridge of Flowers in Shelburne Falls, Massachusetts. The community has come together to place a total of 118 floral arrangements along the sides of the bridge, including 72 flower boxes, 32 hanging baskets and 14 border Column Baskets and Cottage Gardens, which are planted and maintained by a dedicated group of volunteers. The flower boxes on the bridge are replaced by local high school students.

In 2019, the bridge was temporarily closed for improvements. The Town of Simsbury added more parking, a pavilion for visitors, walking paths, and river access for launching watercraft. Plus there's opportunities to combine a visit to the Old Drake Hill Flower Bridge for longer range recreation as well, since the Farmington Canal Heritage Trail passes near the bridge. I have passed by or checked out the Old Drake Hill Flower Bridge a few times during my travels around the Constitution State. The photos below are from an August 2022 visit to the bridge.

The Old Drake Hill Flower Bridge brimming with flowers on a quiet late August afternoon.

Historic bridge plaque.

The bridge looks inviting for pedestrians exploring the bridge at any pace, even if it's just to smell the flowers.

East portal of the bridge.

The Farmington River, which runs from the Berkshires to the Connecticut River. Further upstream, you may find people tubing down the Farmington River, depending on the season.

A hanging basket.

Admiring the truss work of the bridge.

Stopping to smell the flowers.

Bridge plaques.

East portal of the Old Drake Hill Flower Bridge.

A parting side shot of the bridge.


How to Get There:



Sources and Links:
Town of Simsbury Connecticut - The Old Drake Hill Flower Bridge
CTMQ - The Old Drake Hill Flower Bridge
Connecticut Explored - Saving a Bridge with Flowers
Bridgehunter - Drake Hill Road Bridge

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