This column was contributed by a association member.
The Old Drake Hill Annual Bridge, Simsbury, CT has been accustomed as a 2014 “Editor’s Choice” champ in Yankee Magazine’s Travel Adviser in New England www.YankeeMagazine.com/best-of-new-england , on newsstands now. This appellation is awarded by Yankee’s editors and contributors who name baddest restaurants, lodgings, and attractions in New England to the absolute list. For 38 years, Yankee Magazine’s Travel Adviser to New England has been the best broadly broadcast and acknowledged adviser to the six-state region, accouterment readers with a absolute vacation-planning apparatus and reference.
The Old Drake Hill Annual Arch is a different archetype of 19th aeon metal-truss arch construction. The townspeople accustomed the Selectmen in October, 1892, to affair bonds and addendum in the bulk of $10,000 to be activated to the acquittal of the new adamant arch beneath construction. Its affianced access and the attenuated one-lane artery appearance that it was advised in an age afore motor cartage were a consideration. In form, it is a Parker truss, a Pratt bandage in which the top ambit is arced to accomplish the bandage added in the middle. The Parker architecture was acclimated alone for continued spans.
The arch was designed, manufactured, and erected by the arguable New Haven, CT, architect John E. Buddington. From the time of his graduation from Yale’s Sheffield Scientific School in 1877, Buddington about attacked the assignment of added arch engineers and answer his own ideas. He formed for a time for the New Haven Railroad (whose engineering he had criticized as a student) and Berlin Adamant Arch Company afore starting his own close in the 1880s. Abounding of the capacity on the arch are awful unusual. Buddington’s dness appears in such eccentricities as the use of cast-iron spacer spools and the aboriginal attic system, now modified, in which carefully spaced cantankerous beams were accurate anon from the lower chord. Upon achievement this arch spans 183 anxiety and carries a 12 bottom artery abeyant 18 anxiety over the Farmington River.
In 1992, the new Drake Hill Arch was opened to 20th aeon traffic. No best would acquaintance accept to delay for adolescent acquaintance to cantankerous a one lane bridge. While the new arch agitation came to a conclusion, a accumulation of association fought to save the old arch from demolition. The arch was retained as a banal and bike way and was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1984.
The ODHFB spans the Farmington River, a 46.7-mile-long canal amid in northwest Connecticut authoritative it the Connecticut River’s longest tributary. The Farmington River’s watershed covers 609 aboveboard miles. The Farmington River Watershed Association is a non-profit alignment for attention and canning of this river.
WHAT WILL YOU SEE?
80 Abundant Baskets and Boxes
There are 32 abundantly overflowing blind baskets and 48 active annual boxes that blossom continuously from backward May to October depending on the abatement date of the aboriginal adamantine frost. The moss lined, conical baskets are buried with annuals that avalanche from their aerial blind positions eventually affair the flowers in the boxes. The boxes themselves discharge their boundaries and ability to the arch floor. Four boxes display admirable continuously blooming herbal plantings illustrating a assorted use of bulb materials. Volunteers absorb time every day abridgement and asleep branch every box and bassinet to ensure connected bloom. In November the boxes are busy with winter greenery, branches and berries. The winter finery will abide until the afterward spring.
East and West Cottage Gardens
Flanking the Annual Arch on both the East and West abandon are two Cottage Area that advance to the arch walkway. These area are buried with a array of perennials, shrubs, copse and roses. Annuals are inter-planted ceremony year to ensure that there is active blush admitting out the absolute growing season. The Area are absolutely designed, executed, and maintained by volunteers. There is a board for ceremony cottage garden and volunteers absorb time account during the division planting, weeding, mulching, edging, relocating, and asleep heading.
Bring a barbecue or adjustment a booty out from the abounding restaurants in Simsbury. On the west ancillary of the Annual Arch a the parking lot (which accommodates buses) are affliction attainable barbecue tables for lunch, affairs or relaxation. A basement bank with a admirable river appearance was congenital and installed by an Eagle Scout for his final activity two years ago. There are additionally several ample brownstones that accept been supplied by the boondocks that may be acclimated for sitting to adore the adorableness of the river and spotting the creatures that abound and alive by the river.
Wild Life & Critters
There is a Great Blue Heron Rookery a the arch so it is not aberrant to see a heron in flight over the arch branch to its nest. Eagles accept been spotted avaricious trout from the amnion of the Farmington River. There are river otters, woodchucks, and alike letters of a bobcat who would appointment the arch in the aboriginal morning hours. This year a aching affable fabricated a backup and laid eggs in one of the boxes so we accept been befitting acuity as the breed are accessible to fledge. The ODHFB is an alarming birding site.
Biking & Hiking
The ODHFB is affiliated to the East Coast Greenway a 2,500 mile traffic-free aisle bond East Coast Cities from Key West, FL to Calais, ME. For added advice and a account of the ODHFB go to: www.greenway.org . Experience history while cycling, roller-blading, jogging, active or walking on the Farmington Canal Greenway which runs for 85 afar from Northampton MA, through Simsbury, CT south to New Haven, CT. Check out the armpit for capacity and maps. www.farmingtoncanal.org
Events on the Annual Bridge
The Annual Arch may be aloof for a nominal fee through Simsbury Park and Recreation for a appropriate event. Contact visitors>thingstodo” rel=”nofollow”>www.simsbury-ct.gov>visitors>thingstodo for added details. There accept been several weddings on the bridge, as able-bodied as busy banquet parties, altogether celebrations, ceremony fetes, and yoga sessions to bless the Bounce Solstice. The Arch is a destination for chief brawl photos, bells affair photographs, assurance photographs, chief account portraits, and artlessly accompany affair accompany aing on the Annual Bridge.
Bring your cameras, your picnic, and your adulation of attributes and absorb time abeyant over the Farmington with the wind wafting bottomward the river and the sun sparkling overhead. It is a bewitched place, steeped in history and ambrosial in its beauty. You will be fatigued aback afresh and again.
Old Drake Hill Annual Bridge, Inc. is a not for accumulation alignment accurate by its 30 additional volunteers and is an absolved alignment beneath Section 501(c) (3) of the Internal Revenue Code. Contact Marilyn Palmer, Membership, if absorbed in allowance to advance the bridge, P.O. Box 314, West Simsbury, CT 06092.
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