The Old Drake Hill Flower Bridge
I live pretty close to The Old Drake Hill Flower Bridge, so I’ve been passing by it for two decades. It’s just part of my life. However, I’d never bothered to stop and take pictures of it, let alone creating a page on CTMQ dedicated to it.
Then a few things happened.
The CFPA’s future East-West Trail will cross the famous Flower Bridge. The Wintonbury Land Trust’s future LaSalette Trail will start/end at the famous Flower Bridge. And finally, Calvin and I have begun doing the state’s rails-to-trails network and the Farmington Canal Heritage Trail took us right by the famous Flower Bridge.
So here we are. And it’s lovely.
Granted, it’s only lovely for a few months per year when locals – both officially with the town of Simsbury and volunteers with the Old Drake Hill Flower Bridge Committee – hang the planters and keep everything watered and alive.
This is one of those things in Connecticut that people seem to really love that, to me, is just a nice thing some people do. I like flowers, but I’ve never really understood the utter fascination with this place. It featured on every mommy blog (when they were a thing) and every lame aggregator “Connecticut” site and all of those content-stealing garbage “Connecticut” facebook groups.
(For example, one of the “Only in Your State” facebook group posts about the Flower Bridge has hundreds of comments and “likes” with people saying, “WE MUST GO HERE!” like it’s Niagara Falls or something. Since the people who put that page together live in Iowa, it cracked me up that they stole their pictures and posted their stuff in 2019 – when the whole thing was closed.)
The old bridge was built in 1892 and is one of three surviving 19th-century Parker truss bridges in the state. (I assure you, the people who think the “Only in Your State” content is remotely interesting don’t care a whit about Parker truss bridges.) The bridge used to carry vehicular traffic, of course, but is now for foot traffic only. (A modern bridge parallels this one just to the north.)
The bridge actually carried cars all the way up until 1992, which is surprising to me. This is not a wide bridge. It sat there for three years when, in 1995, it was restored and someone got the idea to copy the Bridge of Flowers in Shelburne Falls, Massachusetts. And they really do a great job every year here in Simsbury.
As I mentioned, in 2019 the whole operation was shut down so the town could transform the western side of the bridge into a much more inviting parklet. They added a visitor’s pavilion, walking paths, river access for launching canoes and kayaks, a water fountain and the planted of a number of gardens and trees. Having been in 2020, I can report it’s all very nice.
And while this page will get maybe 7 likes and 1 comment when I post it to the all-original content CTMQ facebook page, I’m okay with that. Because really, in the end, it really is just an old bridge with some flowers on it for a few months a year.