Gardeners often look for an unusual flower, or a special arrangement of plants, but the folks up in Shelburne Falls, Massachusetts came up with one of the most surprising places to plant their garden. An old trolley bridge has been transformed from an obsolete pedestrian walkway across the river to a delightful place to stroll or sit and enjoy the view.
A historic trolley bridge no longer in use.
A trolley bridge was built in 1908 across the Deerfield River connecting the towns of Shelburne and Buckland in Massachusetts. The 400 foot bridge was sturdily built of concrete with five arches. The Shelburne Falls & Colrain Street Railway hauled freight from the rail yard in Shelburne Falls to textile mills in Colrain. It was used for milk and mail, deliveries, and for workers to get to the mills and the town people to get to the movies in Shelburne Falls.
When trolley service was abandoned to trucking businesses in 1928, the bridge sat with no practical use. It was fine for pedestrians or trolley lines, but not adequate for a roadway, so a new highway bridge was built nearby. The old bridge was too expensive to destroy, and besides that, it still carried the town water main across the river.
A brilliant idea for a lovely garden.
In 1929, Antoinette and Walter Burnham decided something should be done with the old bridge. In 1929, under the leadership of the Shelburne Falls Woman’s Club and their Bridge of Flowers Committee, the structure was transformed into a lovely flower bridge. Local volunteers work to keep this traditional flower garden beautiful. It is open from early spring to late fall, and has visitors from all over the world who come to see over 500 varieties of annuals and perennials which provide continuous flowers throughout the season. There are donation boxes at either end of the bridge to help provide for the purchase of flowers and other supplies.
A lovely place to visit.
It is delightful to stroll across the bridge, and perhaps sit a while on the bench. The plans and flowers are labeled so you know what they are, should you wish to reproduce a tiny part of this lovely garden at home. In towns on both sides of the bridge there are places to eat, or stay a while. The last trolley car, which was found in a farmer’s field, has been restored and is now available for rides at the Trolley Museum.
When planning your road trip next spring, remember to add in a scenic detour to this historic Bridge of Flowers.