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The Bridge of Flowers delights the senses of visitors walking among the trees and blossoms on the old trolley bridge spanning the Deerfield River, which connects two communities in northwestern Massachusetts: Shelburne Falls and Buckland. The 400-foot concrete bridge comes alive every year April 1–October 30 as a garden pathway with flowering plants of all varieties.
The closed-spandrel deck arch bridge originally carried trolley cars between Shelburne Falls and Buckland on the Shelburne Falls & Colrain Street Railway from 1908 until 1927, when the railroad folded. The bridge remained, however, as it also carried a water main between the two towns. The bridge was in danger of becoming a weedy eyesore, so the Shelburne Falls Area Women’s Club took on the task of beautifying the bridge in 1929. Its volunteers have been planting flowers and maintaining the flower beds on the bridge ever since.
Although the bridge deck is 18 feet wide, the pathway is much narrower with the lush garden on both sides. Walkers are encouraged, but bicycles and pets—even those you can carry—are prohibited. The bridge is wheelchair accessible. If you’re on a bike, you can cross the river on adjacent Bridge Street, which provides an excellent view of the Bridge of Flowers.
The bridge offers welcoming gardens at either end: State Street in Buckland and Water Street in Shelburne Falls. Following the path, flower lovers are greeted by an ever-changing variety of bulbs, perennials, shrubs, and trees that beg for attention. They range from crocus in the early spring to asters in the fall. Once it snows, the bridge is closed behind locked gates because of liability issues until spring.
As the main attraction, the bridge drew a collection of specialty shops, restaurants, bookstores, a coffee shop, and a soda fountain. Nearby is the Shelburne Falls Trolley Museum, home of car No. 10, the only surviving trolley car from the Shelburne Falls & Colrain Street Railway. Dating to 1896, it was rescued by a local farmer who used it as a chicken coop, toolshed, and playhouse for 65 years until the museum acquired it. Now it’s used for rides around the old railway freight yard where the museum keeps other railroad and trolley artifacts.
To reach the west trailhead from I-91, take Exit 26 toward North Adams on MA 2 W/Mohawk Trail. Go 8.3 miles west and turn left onto S. Maple St. Go 0.3 mile and turn left onto Bridge St. In 0.5 mile turn right onto State St. after crossing the road bridge. Look for on-street parking or a parking lot on the right.
To reach the east trailhead from I-91, follow the directions above to Bridge St. In 0.3 mile turn right onto Main St. A municipal parking lot is on the left. The entrance to the Bridge of Flowers is across the parking lot on Water St.
The bridge is open April–October.
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