|Drake Hill Bridge from Town of Simsbury website|
It was built in 1892, before automobile traffic. Even though it was a normal route to get places, and I routinely crossed it in my car, it was kind of an adventure each time, and I would briefly imagine carts and horses --- and later tin lizzies --- crossing where I drove. It was closed after I moved away and a new one was built just a few yards away in 1992, but since I no longer traveled that way, I didn't realize the road had been slightly rerouted and the old bridge abandoned.
Then a couple years ago I started visiting a small garden center that is located on the river, right at the foot of the new bridge. I was surprised to see that the old bridge had been closed, but not torn down. Instead, it was covered, literally swamped in colorful flower boxes and hanging baskets all up and down the railings.
It's modeled on the abandoned trolley bridge that spans the Deerfield River, the Bridge of Flowers in Shelburne, Massachusetts.
There has been so much hype and excitement about the High Line public park built on abandoned elevated railroad tracks on Manhattan's West Side. It's really just an expanded version of the Bridge of Flowers. It's the same idea: reclamation of an old eyesore where weeds once grew, making it a public garden spot. Of course the High Line is 22 blocks long, a mile and a half of gardens, paths, native plants and Piet Oudolf designed installations. The High Line itself was inspired by a similar railroad bridge reclamation in Paris.
|from Town of Simsbury website|
Our little reclamation project is just a modest bridge. Just a short iron span across a small river in a semi-rural town in New England. It's maintained by volunteers, many of them high school groups. Although there are some perennials at the entrances, it's mostly baskets and boxes of annuals, not professional European inspired native plant installations.
|flowerboxes on Drake Hill Bridge - photo: rbglasson|
And I love to go by it, thinking of a time when I was so much younger, carefully crossing that bridge on my way to my future self.