The Frog Bridge, Willimantic
The Damned Story: One of the more intentionally unusual structures in Connecticut is The Frog Bridge of Willimantic, also known as the Thread City Crossing. Spanning the Willimantic River, the nearly 500-foot bridge was completed in 2000 at a cost of $13 million and connects routes 66 and 32, and would be fairly unremarkable if not for the four 11-foot frogs sitting atop giant spools of thread.
Why frogs, you ask? (And why wouldn’t you?)
Well, rather than the birthplace of Kermit or an area with a high French population, Willimantic is known as being home of the infamous “Battle of the Frogs” in 1754. To paraphrase the legend: One hot summer night, the good people of Windham (which Willimantic is now part of) were roused from their sleep by “a shrieking, clattering thunderous roar” unlike anything they had ever heard before. Fearing that it was either an Indian attack or Judgement Day, the townsfolk freaked out and began to panic — some ran through the streets brandishing muskets, others fell to their knees in frantic prayer. Some cooler heads finally prevailed and went in search of the ungodly noises, but to no avail. Only the next morning when the sun came up, did they find the source of the horrendous cacaphony — a nearby pond, down to no more than a puddle thanks to the dry summer, was ringed with scores of dead bullfrogs. Apparently, some sort of frog turf war had broken out and the carnage was excessive . . . but not as excessive as the embarrassment the citizens of Windham were to endure over the next few decades.
But as the years passed, the denizens of Windham/Willimantic embraced the frog legend — a frog now appears on the official town seal. So when it came time to build the new bridge, the town leaders decided to get hoppy with it and put the town’s unique stamp on it. Hence, the frogs.
Oh, and the spools? Less interesting history there as the town was home to a thriving mill industry and became known as “Thread City.” (You can learn more about it at the Windham Textile & History Museum, if, uh, string is your thing.) Still, makes for your out-of-ordinary bridge.
Our Damned Experience: When I visited the bridge and took these photos, I didn’t see any actual frogs — muppet or otherwise — nor did I hear anything horrific or otherworldly, unless you count the sounds of noonday traffic.
If You Go: The bridge is just outside downtown Willimantic where routes 66 and 32 come together, and obviously open to the public at all times. It can get busy during certain times of the day, so be wary of traffic.
View Connecticut 32 & Connecticut 66 in a larger map