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Visiting the Bridge of Flowers in Shelburne Falls, MA

Traveling has always been one of my passions. It exposes us to new cultures and experiences and makes the world a more tolerant place.

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Located just off the historic and very scenic Mohawk Trail in the Berkshires of western Massachusetts is a very special landmark worth visiting. Known as the Bridge of Flowers, this one-of-a-kind flowering bridge has been quietly greeting visitors for almost 100 years.

Originally constructed in 1908 as a trolley bridge linking Buckland and Shelburne on both sides of the Deerfield River, the bridge became somewhat antiquated with the invention of the automobile in the early 20th century. Used to transport both goods and passengers, the Shelburne Falls & Colrain Street Railway Company soon fell into bankruptcy as cars and trucks replaced the trolley. By 1928 the 400-foot concrete span was mostly abandoned and overgrown with weeds.

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With the seldom-used bridge quickly becoming an eyesore the community had a problem with what to do with the structure. With a wider steel bridge nearby, foot traffic ceased on the old concrete bridge and the cost to dismantle the bridge was deemed too expensive. Also, the bridge carried a water main to the Buckland side of the river, which only compounded the issue.

Thankfully, local resident Antoinette Burnham came up with a great idea. Her vision was to transform the weed-infested bridge into a flowering path for people to enjoy. The Shelburne Falls Fire District would purchase the bridge for the tidy sum of $1,250 and the Shelburne Fall's Women’s Club sponsored the beautification project. They had eighty loads of soil and fertilizer placed on the bridge all with the help of donated labor. The community rallied around the project volunteering their time and raising the funds necessary to complete the project, which included erecting fencing on the bridge and purchasing and planting the shrubs and flowers.

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Today, the Bridge of Flowers draws visitors from all over the world. It is the only bridge of its kind in the world and the charming communities of Buckland and Shelburne offer a nice artistic touch to compliment the flowering bridge.

In bloom from early spring through late fall there are over five hundred different varieties of perennials and annuals planted on the bridge. Local volunteers under the direction of the head gardener work diligently to ensure that there is a continuous bloom throughout the three seasons.

Looking toward Shelburne.

Looking toward Shelburne.

Looking toward Buckland.

Looking toward Buckland.

Both sides of the bridge have sitting areas and the Shelburne side has a beautiful garden pathway, a rock fountain, and a new River Bench by local Artist John Sendelbach. From the center of the bridge you have a wonderful view to the north of the Deerfield River and the rolling hills of the Berkshires. To the south you view the steel bridge that helped to seal the fate of the Bridge of Flowers. It’s a quiet and peaceful area and garden enthusiasts will appreciate the incredible variety of plants and shrubs that adorn the bridge.

A couple enjoying the River Bench.

A couple enjoying the River Bench.

The Bridge of Flowers

The Bridge of Flowers

Located in a prime area for viewing the autumn foliage, the Bridge of Flowers makes a nice pit stop on the Mohawk Trail for those driving the back roads of the Berkshires.

Shelburne and Buckland are very small communities with an assortment of locally owned B&B’s, restaurants, art galleries, craft shops, and antique shops. On the Buckland side of the river there is also the Shelburne Falls Trolley Museum where you can ride one of the restored original trollies (No. 10) that once traversed the Bridge of Flowers. Just to the south of the bridge on the Deerfield River below the dam is the section known as the Glacial Potholes. The fifty odd holes range in size from just a few inches to almost forty feet and were formed millions of years ago as glaciers retreated through this area. The “potholes” form nice swimming holes during the summer and draw locals looking to cool off.

Be Sure to Stop and Smell the Flowers!

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You're only here for a short visit. Don't hurry, don't worry. And be sure to smell the flowers along the way.

— Walter Hagen

We're Right There!

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Care to spend a few hours volunteering while visiting the Bridge of Flowers? The Bridge Blossom Brigade would appreciate the help. They work for two hours on Friday mornings and two hours on Wednesday evenings. Their schedule is as follows:

Friday Mornings

  • April, 10 -12 noon
  • May, 9 -11am
  • June-July-August, 8 -10am
  • September-October, 9 -11am

Wednesday Evenings

  • 5-7pm throughout the whole season

There are a number of annual events that take place in the area. A sampling is listed here:

  • Annual Plant Sale - May
  • Maple Sugaring - March
  • Bridge of Flowers Classic 10K Road Race – August
  • Mohawk Trail Concerts Summer Festival – July
  • Iron Bridge Dinner – August
  • Shelburne Falls Military Band Concerts – June-August
  • Shelburne Falls Art Walk – May, July, September, November
  • CiderDays – November

Questions? Ask the Master Gardener.

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Hollywood in Shelburne Falls

For you movie aficionados out there did you know that Shelburne Falls has actually hosted three films over the past few years? Labor Day starring Kate Winslet and Josh Brolin, The Judge starring Robert Downey Jr. and Robert Duvall, and the thriller Then There Was were all filmed in the area. Pretty impressive resume for such a small community located in a very rural area.

No matter the season, be it spring, summer or fall, the Bridge of Flowers will be in bloom waiting to greet visitors. If you find yourself in western Massachusetts be sure to stop by this one of kind historic landmark that is surely the pride of Shelburne Falls.

Questions & Answers

Question: How many people are honored on the Bridge of Flowers in Shelburne Falls?

Answer: I not sure but maybe 15 to 20 based on our last visit.

© 2015 Bill De Giulio

Comments

Bill De Giulio (author) from Massachusetts on April 24, 2020:

Hi Peggy. This really was a great idea. It has transformed this little community into a destination with people from all over coming to see and walk the bridge. We need more things like this in the area.

Peggy Woods from Houston, Texas on April 24, 2020:

What a fantastic idea people had to transform what could have become an eyesore into a thing of beauty attracting tourists as well as making a beautiful spot for the locals to enjoy. Thanks for writing about it!

Bill De Giulio (author) from Massachusetts on July 17, 2019:

Hi Carol. Glad you enjoyed your visit to the Bridge of Flowers. I do not know her name, but next time we are there I will look for her and will pass along your comments. It really is amazing what they have done with the bridge, it's one of our favorite places to visit.

Carol Ramsey, Lenox, MA on July 17, 2019:

Visited the lovely bridge yesterday with a friend who had not previously seen it. On the Shelburne end, we decided to find a place for a late lunch and happened upon a lovely lady, checking her garden in front of her house, which is right at the end of the bridge. She graciously offered some suggestions. I'm sorry I didn't ask her name or make the connection between her, her garden and the bridge. If you know who this is, we would love for her to know she was part of a perfect visit for us. Thank you.

Bill De Giulio (author) from Massachusetts on November 05, 2018:

Hi Tina. Yes, the Bridge of Flowers is wheelchair accessible. Hope you get to enjoy it, it's beautiful.

Tina Banta on November 05, 2018:

Is the bridge wheelchair accessible? Beautiful photos. Thank you.

Bill De Giulio (author) from Massachusetts on December 02, 2015:

Hi Sheila. Thank you. If you're ever up in New England for the fall foliage the Bridge of Flowers makes a great stop. Thanks for stopping by, have a great day.

Sheila Brown from Southern Oklahoma on December 02, 2015:

What a wonderful hub! This would be such a unique and beautiful place to visit! If I ever get up that way, I will be sure to stop by!

Bill De Giulio (author) from Massachusetts on November 27, 2015:

Thanks Stella. What they did with this bridge is amazing. Certainly there are many old bridges across the country that could be transformed. Thanks for stopping by, have a great weekend.

stella vadakin from 3460NW 50 St Bell, Fl32619 on November 26, 2015:

A very nice place to visit and get away from everything. We could do that to some of the old bridges here. Great Hub and lovely photos. Stella

Christine from Florida on November 11, 2015:

Thank you so much! I agree; so nice to meet a fellow New England-er here on Hub Pages! :

Bill De Giulio (author) from Massachusetts on October 04, 2015:

Hi Amanda. Oh definitely. While we were there we saw dozens of butterflies. It really is wonderful what they have done with this bridge. Its become quite a destination and definitely worth a visit if you are ever out this way.

Amanda Littlejohn on October 04, 2015:

Being originally from Boston, I should have known about this as it isn't so far away, but I confess I didn't. What a beautiful article about a beautiful thing!

I wonder how marvellous it would be if just all bridges could be made this way, adorned with flowers and greenery.

It reminds me of the images I have seen of 'green bridges' designed to span highways and so on to allow the free passage of wildlife that would otherwise be isolated.

I imagine that in the summer this bridge might equally well be called 'the bridge of butterflies' - don't you think?

Bill De Giulio (author) from Massachusetts on September 28, 2015:

Hi Arun. Thank you. They really took an eyesore and turned it into something special. Thanks for stopping by.

Arun Dev from United Countries of the World on September 28, 2015:

It was interesting to read and the images were beautiful. The transformation was a good idea.

Kristen Howe from Northeast Ohio on September 27, 2015:

You're welcome Bill. I bet it is with the fall foliage. You too!

Bill De Giulio (author) from Massachusetts on September 27, 2015:

Thanks Kristen. It's beautiful this time of year. Have a great day.

Kristen Howe from Northeast Ohio on September 27, 2015:

Great hub, Bill. Beautiful description of the town, the bridge, and the photos itself. Very picturesque and lovely.

Bill De Giulio (author) from Massachusetts on September 26, 2015:

Thank you Glimmer. We really enjoyed the Bridge of Flowers. And kudos to the community for coming up with such a unique solution to their problem. It would make a great destination anytime from spring though fall but over the next few weeks when the leaves start to change color it will be beautiful there. Thanks again and have a great weekend.

Claudia Mitchell on September 26, 2015:

Oh how beautiful Bill. I want to go here...I really want to go here. I love flowers and what a unique way to show them off and what a great way to use an old falling down space.

Bill De Giulio (author) from Massachusetts on September 19, 2015:

Hi Dianna. Is it a great idea and definitely more towns and cities should be doing this type of thing. Thanks for stopping by, have a great weekend.

Dianna Mendez on September 19, 2015:

I love this idea. Wish more cities would adopt this lovely idea. I would love to walk this one day. THanks for sharing this with us.

Bill De Giulio (author) from Massachusetts on September 15, 2015:

Thank you Linda. It certainly is a wonderful thing that they have done with this bridge. Many communities could learn a thing or two from this effort. Glad you enjoyed the hub, have a great week.

Linda Crampton from British Columbia, Canada on September 14, 2015:

I have to agree with your other commenters, Bill. The project that you've described is wonderful and the photos are beautiful. What a great effort by the community.

Bill De Giulio (author) from Massachusetts on September 13, 2015:

Thank you Faith Reaper. Absolutely we need more of this, especially as you mentioned in the larger cities where there are multiple eyesores. The communities of Buckland and Shelburne have totally embraced the bridge and take great pride in maintaining it for the world to enjoy. I am familiar with Rockport and it is a beautiful coastal community. Many thanks for stopping by, sharing, etc. Have a wonderful day.

Faith Reaper from southern USA on September 13, 2015:

Oh, what a wonderful community effort of beautification! I am all for cities and towns thinking outside the box to restoring an eyesore into something beautiful that the entire community can be involved in. I wish some of these larger cities where there are blocks and blocks of abandoned building would do this too.

Your photos are wonderful. My mother lived in Rockport, Massachusetts for ten years after my dad died, and she went up there to visit her sister and did not leave. It is such a quaint and wonderful town on the ocean. Many artists from around the world visit and a good deal of movies were made there as well.

Beautiful hub. Sharing everywhere

Blessing

Bill De Giulio (author) from Massachusetts on September 13, 2015:

Thank you Chantelle. It's certainly a one of a kind place worth a stop. In the next month or so it should be beautiful as the foliage starts to change. Have a great day.

Chantelle Porter from Chicago on September 13, 2015:

What a creative idea and a pleasure for all. If I'm ever that way I will definitely stop by. Beautiful pictures.

Bill De Giulio (author) from Massachusetts on September 13, 2015:

Hi John. Thank you. More communities should be looking to solve their eyesore problems with projects like this. They took a problem and not only turned it into a beautiful solution but created a destination for tourists that helps to support the local businesses in the towns.

Bill De Giulio (author) from Massachusetts on September 13, 2015:

Hi Mike. That's unfortunate that the weather didn't cooperate, the one thing we have no control over. The story of how the bridge came to be is very interesting. Thanks for stopping by, have a great day.

Bill De Giulio (author) from Massachusetts on September 13, 2015:

Hi Bill. Thanks. The community really has embraced this project and they take great pride in their Bridge of Flowers. It's amazing what people can do when they come together with a common cause.

Bill De Giulio (author) from Massachusetts on September 13, 2015:

Hi Flourish. I completely agree. More communities should be looking at projects like this. And I love that they get plenty of volunteers who show up to help maintain the flowering bridge. This one idea has transformed the area in a very positive way.

John Hansen from Queensland Australia on September 12, 2015:

I love what they did with the bridge. What a unique idea. We have so many abandoned railway bridges in my country that could be resurrected by planting gardens along them. Beautiful photos to add to the hub Bill. I would love to visit Shelburne Falls and the Bridge of Flowers one day.

Mike Hey from UK on September 12, 2015:

Really interesting to read this article. We stopped in Shelburne Falls on a road trip of New England a few years back. Unfortunately the weather was really poor so whilst we walked across the bridge, we didn't get a chance to appreciate it. Loved finding out how it came to be though.

Bill Holland from Olympia, WA on September 12, 2015:

What a great, community-minded proactive solution to a potential problem. I love this...thanks for sharing this with us, Bill. You made my day seeing this great community project.

FlourishAnyway from USA on September 12, 2015:

This looks like such a treat to visit. I'm putting this on my bucket list. I especially appreciate how the community came together to turn a problem, an eyesore into an opportunity. What people can do!

Bill De Giulio (author) from Massachusetts on September 12, 2015:

Thank You Heidi. There are so many of these hidden gems out there, they just need to be discovered. Have a wonderful weekend.

Bill De Giulio (author) from Massachusetts on September 12, 2015:

Thank you Phyllis. They not only took an eyesore and turned it into something beautiful but it draws thousands of visitors to the area every year. Thanks for stopping by Phyllis, have a great weekend.

Heidi Thorne from Chicago Area on September 12, 2015:

If I get back to the East Coast one day, I'll have to check this place out. In the meantime, I'll have your gorgeous (as always!) photos. Keep the beautiful stuff coming!

Phyllis Doyle Burns from High desert of Nevada. on September 12, 2015:

Such a lovely bridge and beautiful photos. All your hubs have excellent photos to enhance the article.

It would be nice if more towns did this kind of community effort to beautify old structures and run-down areas. I never heard of this bridge till I read your hub.

Well done, as always, Bill. Thanks for sharing this unique bridge.