1928 - Alderson High School - 1968

 

 The Bridge of Flowers
John McCurdy, '08

            In the 1990's my wife, Pearl and I, made our first trip to New England, we intended to go up through Massachusetts and Vermont, cross into Canada at the tip of Lake Champaign, and come back into the USA in New Hampshire and end up at Newport, Rhode Island where our son was stationed with the US Navy and who was returning from sea duty.

            Looking at the map when we tentatively planned our way through Massachusetts, we say the town of Shelburne Falls and the legend, "The Bridge of Flowers!" That brought back a memory of an article we had read in "Yankee" Magazine several years before about that Bridge. We decided we wanted to visit the town. Located in the northwest quarter of the state just off Interstate 91, itís a little out of the way but well worth the inconvenience.

         Shelburne Falls and it's sister town across the river were once served by a trolley line that went broke in the 30's and had been abandoned for several years until the Garden Clubs of the towns decided to do something with it, and as women can do, they did it! They planted flowers on both sides of a dirt path over the bridge and have kept  it as a club project ever since.

            In the years that followed they improved their plantings, added benches and trash receptacles and even paved the path!

            When we visited, they and the community had just completed a further renovation project costing more than $5,000.000! The piers of the bridge were eroded and were rebuilt, gates were added and several memorials were added, all in all a beautiful job. An interesting side note is that comedian Bill Cosby and his wife who have a home in the area, donated $50,000.00 dollars to the renovation campaign.

            Their bridge is almost a dead ringer for the Alderson Memorial Bridge, it's also a concrete arch bridge, but it's only half as long as ours and is considerably narrower. Photographic opportunities were everywhere, Garden Clubs made pilgrimages to visit, and tourist bus tours  arrived few minutes while we were there. The gates at the end of the bridge were closed from 10:00PM until 7:00AM. Boxes for donations at each end were provided for the use of the visitors!

            When Pearl and I saw it we both said, "It looks like our Bridge"! We took dozens of color photos and collected as many pamphlets as possible, we knew we had to share it with the people of Alderson!

            We could visualize "Our Bridge" with benches and flower beds and vines hanging over the sides, with small trees and shrubs, perhaps a flag pole in the middle of the Bridge with the US Flag and the WV flag shared with our Towns banner! At our urging, Don Bryant, the engineer responsible for the repairs to the original bridge floor and sidewalks, did his calculations and announced, that in his opinion, the Bridge could hold a loaded coal train! Our idea was only the sidewalks would be planted and that benches and trash cans be placed at intervals between the flower beds,  that way the roadway would be left for walking and emergency vehicular use, (and the "Parade"). With the newly completed Alumni park it would still be a fine addition to the community, leading one naturally over to Main Street!

            Our town was and is in a depressed state, we vitally need something to bring traffic and visits to town by, tourists,  flower lovers, photographers and others.

            When the idea for a "Flower Bridge" was presented to the various committees, councils, commissions, etc. of the Community the reactions was a loud "Ho-Hum". The question that seemed to be the most often asked was, "How will the 4th. Of July Parade get over the Bridge"?  We have presented it numerous times in the interim and the only thing that has occurred is that my Scrapbook of the Bridge has disappeared!

            I fear that the stance of our beloved little town will always be that of reluctance to attempt any thing very grand or innovative!

          We recommend that if you are anywhere near Shelburne Falls, Mass., that you do try to visit, it is gorgeous and itís likely  the only chance you'll ever have to see "The Bridge of Flowers" and what community efforts can accomplish.

You can get it on the WWW   by typing "Bridge of Flowers", there are a number of entrees on the net.