Two Bridges

©2011 Ruth B. McDowell

This pair of bridges on the Deerfield River in Shelburne Falls MA is an interesting contrast in architectural styles. The arched one – five arches in total was built as a trolley bridge in the early part of the 20th century. The trolley was abandoned in a couple of decades and the bridge has been transformed into a lovely perennial garden – well known as the Bridge of Flowers. The Iron Bridge is the present highway bridge, filigree compared to the masonry of the earlier span. The bridges aren’t parallel, nearly touching at the west (left) end. The river in Shelburne Falls tumbled over a remarkable series of ledges with huge circular potholes and was a famous salmon fishing spot. When the industrial dam was built just below the bridge site, many of the ledges were covered by the raised water level behind the dam. Lowering the river to work on the dam bared some of them and made it easier to imagine what the falls must have looked like before the dam. I finished this quilt just before Hurricane Irene hit the area August 28, 2011. Raging brown flood water came to the top of the arches on the Bridge of Flowers. Fortunately, both bridges survived and an army of volunteers soon had the garden looking wonderful again.

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