Scenic USA - Connecticut

Frog Bridge

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Frog Bridge - Willimantic, Connecticut

Photos by Ben Prepelka
Scenic USA Artist Website

     An Algonquin Indian word honors a central Connecticut river and town with the name Willimantic. Meaning land of the swift running water, the Willimantic River not only passed on its name to the Connecticut town, but supplied the power to the town's factories during the early 1820s. Within a decade, the town saw additions of a stone factory and six thread factories. Affluent town's folk and factory owners began to build mansions on Prospect Hill. And by the beginning of the 20th century a second wave of immigrants came from Eastern European to work in the mills. To accommodate this increase of factory production and new arrivals, three railways began to provide service to Willimantic. With most of the activity in town centered on cotton and silk thread production, Willimantic easily captured the title of Thread City.
     Pictured here is Willimantic's Frog Bridge. This recent addition, built in 2000, connects mid-town Route 66 and Route 33. Willimantic Frogs of Frog Bridge The 13 million dollar bridge spans the Willimantic River just to the west from the heart of town. Four unique sculptures, a frog sitting on a spool of thread, sit at corners of the bridge. The frogs have been given official names, Willy, Manny, Swifty and Windy. Will and Manny are derived from the town's name Willimantic, while Swifty alludes to the swift running waters of the river. Windy is short for neighboring Windham, once part of Willimantic. Also called the Thread City Crossing, the name Frog Bridge instinctively begs the question, "Why frogs"? Well ... creating a legend as noval as this requires an unusual event. It seems that Windham residents were awakened one night in 1754 to a cacophonous sound from Frog Pond. Fearing an Indian attack, the town's folk armed themselves and headed down to toward the river to confront the enemy. That night they found nothing suspicious. Next day, some of the Windham residents returned to the pond and discovered hundreds (maybe thousands) of dead bullfrogs, leaving plenty of Windham citizens fairly embarrassed. The Battle of the Frogs legend has survived into the 21st century, prominently displaying an iconic frog on the official city seal, and now adorning Frog Bridge.

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