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Visiting the Bridge of Flowers, Shelburne Falls, MA

Updated on February 12, 2017
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Traveling has always been one of my passions. It exposes us to new cultures, experiences, and makes the world a better, 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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A markerBridge of Flowers, Shelburne Falls, MA -
Bridge of Flowers, Shelburne Falls, MA 01370, USA
get directions

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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Were you familiar with the Bridge of Flowers prior to coming across this article?

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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. | Source
Looking toward Buckland.
Looking toward Buckland. | Source

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. | Source
The Bridge of Flowers
The Bridge of Flowers | Source

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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Directions

From Interstate 91 (N or S) take exit 26 for Greenfield. Off the exit follow the rotary around and take Route 2 West. This will put you on the Mohawk Trail. Follow for approximately 8 miles and take a left onto South Maple Street and another left onto Bridge Street. This will take you right into the center of Shelburne and the Bridge of Flowers.

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.

A markerBridge of Flowers, Shelburne Falls, MA -
Bridge of Flowers, Shelburne Falls, MA 01370, USA
get directions

© 2015 Bill De Giulio

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    • bdegiulio profile image
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      Bill De Giulio 16 months ago from Massachusetts

      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.

    • sgbrown profile image

      Sheila Brown 16 months ago from Southern Oklahoma

      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!

    • bdegiulio profile image
      Author

      Bill De Giulio 16 months ago from Massachusetts

      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.

    • ladyguitarpicker profile image

      stella vadakin 16 months ago from 3460NW 50 St Bell, Fl32619

      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

    • ccmedeiros profile image

      Christine 16 months ago from Florida

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

    • bdegiulio profile image
      Author

      Bill De Giulio 17 months ago from Massachusetts

      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.

    • stuff4kids profile image

      Amanda Littlejohn 17 months ago

      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?

    • bdegiulio profile image
      Author

      Bill De Giulio 18 months ago from Massachusetts

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

    • adevwriting profile image

      Arun Dev 18 months ago from United Countries of the World

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

    • Kristen Howe profile image

      Kristen Howe 18 months ago from Northeast Ohio

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

    • bdegiulio profile image
      Author

      Bill De Giulio 18 months ago from Massachusetts

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

    • Kristen Howe profile image

      Kristen Howe 18 months ago from Northeast Ohio

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

    • bdegiulio profile image
      Author

      Bill De Giulio 18 months ago from Massachusetts

      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.

    • Glimmer Twin Fan profile image

      Glimmer Twin Fan 18 months ago

      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.

    • bdegiulio profile image
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      Bill De Giulio 18 months ago from Massachusetts

      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.

    • teaches12345 profile image

      Dianna Mendez 18 months ago

      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.

    • bdegiulio profile image
      Author

      Bill De Giulio 18 months ago from Massachusetts

      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.

    • AliciaC profile image

      Linda Crampton 18 months ago from British Columbia, Canada

      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.

    • bdegiulio profile image
      Author

      Bill De Giulio 18 months ago from Massachusetts

      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 profile image

      Faith Reaper 18 months ago from southern USA

      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

    • bdegiulio profile image
      Author

      Bill De Giulio 18 months ago from Massachusetts

      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 profile image

      Chantelle Porter 18 months ago from Chicago

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

    • bdegiulio profile image
      Author

      Bill De Giulio 18 months ago from Massachusetts

      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.

    • bdegiulio profile image
      Author

      Bill De Giulio 18 months ago from Massachusetts

      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.

    • bdegiulio profile image
      Author

      Bill De Giulio 18 months ago from Massachusetts

      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.

    • bdegiulio profile image
      Author

      Bill De Giulio 18 months ago from Massachusetts

      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.

    • Jodah profile image

      John Hansen 18 months ago from Queensland Australia

      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.

    • stereomike83 profile image

      stereomike83 18 months ago from UK

      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.

    • billybuc profile image

      Bill Holland 18 months ago from Olympia, WA

      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 profile image

      FlourishAnyway 18 months ago from USA

      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!

    • bdegiulio profile image
      Author

      Bill De Giulio 18 months ago from Massachusetts

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

    • bdegiulio profile image
      Author

      Bill De Giulio 18 months ago from Massachusetts

      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.

    • heidithorne profile image

      Heidi Thorne 18 months ago from Chicago Area

      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 profile image

      Phyllis Doyle Burns 18 months ago from High desert of Nevada.

      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.

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