CTS Clark Collection- Gamache Foot Bridge 1906.tif

Black and white photograph of the Foot Bridge. Courtesy of: CTS Clark Collection- Gamache

Willimantic had several bridges crossing the Willimantic River at the beginning of the 20th century:

  • Lyman Jordan's 1857 bridge, aka the Iron Works Bridge or the Stone Arch Bridge or the Jillson Hill Bridge, currently the Windham Garden on the Bridge (pedestrian only).
  • The American Thread "bridge" connecting Mills No. 2 and No. 4 south of the river.
  • Stone Arch Bridge built in 1869, aka Bridge Street Bridge.
  • The Footbridge, pedestrian only.

The Foot Bridge

   The Foot Bridge is located in the center of Railroad street. The bridge was originally planned to be built just after the Civil War, but local disagreement delayed its construction until 1905-1906. According to Tom Beardsley, the construction of the bridge began on November 3rd, 1905 and was opened a year later on November 16 in a ceremony conducted by the Mayor at the time Daniel P. Dunn. The foot bridge prevented pedestrians using the railway tracks as a crossing to access the the south section of the of the city. The construction of this bridge was controversial amongst citizens because many complained the money used to built the bridge should have been used to address more important issues such as the lack of sidewalks, and the slush and mud that was on the side of the streets. That aside, when the foot bridge was built, it was unique as it was the first bridge in the United States to cross over railway lines, a highway, and a river. The hurried construction of the bridge caused it to have a visible curvature. More in-depth information about the foot bridge can be found in this exhibit made by Elizabeth Bartoshevich.

Willimantic's famous Frog Bridge was opened in 2001, located between the Foot Bridge and the Iron Works Bridge, which it replaced.


Map of bridges crossing the Willimantic river in Willimantic,, circa 1910