About This Location
Nestled in the picturesque landscape of New Milford, Connecticut, lies the captivating Boardman's Bridge, a historic lenticular truss bridge that once carried Boardman Road across the Housatonic River. Built between 1887 and 1888 from sturdy wrought iron, it stands as a testament to the state's rich industrial past and is one of only three such bridges remaining in Connecticut. Listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1976 as #76001983, this bridge, though closed to vehicular and pedestrian traffic since the mid-1980s, continues to intrigue history buffs and explorers alike.
Located northeast of the junction of United States Route 7 and Boardman Road, Old Boardman's Bridge spans gracefully over the Housatonic River, just a stone's throw from its modern replacement. Surrounded by small public parks at each end, the bridge, now closed to all access, presents a serene picture of bygone days. Its lenticular truss design, a hallmark of the Berlin Iron Bridge Company, showcases the technological advancements of the late 19th century. The bridge, 188 feet in length and just over 15 feet wide, hovers approximately 20 feet above the river, supported by stone abutments and intricate ironwork.
The bridge's story began with the demise of a wooden toll bridge in the flood of 1854, leading to its reconstruction in iron by the Berlin Iron Bridge Company. This transition from wood to iron represented a significant shift in bridge-building materials of the era. For nearly a century, the bridge facilitated the movement of pedestrians, horses, buggies, and eventually vehicles, until its closure in 1984 when a new steel bridge was constructed nearby.
In the early 2000s, efforts were made to restore this historical structure, but funds were redirected to the restoration of Lover's Leap Bridge, another lenticular truss bridge in New Milford. However, in 2017, renewed hope emerged when the New Milford Town Council established the Old Boardman Bridge Committee. Their goal: to rehabilitate and reopen the bridge for foot and bicycle traffic. This initiative aims to restore the bridge's majestic structure, including removing overgrowth, repairing masonry, replacing the deck, and repainting, all while preserving its historical integrity.
The Old Boardman Bridge, with its ornate finials and detailed builder's plaque, remains an essential piece of Connecticut's heritage. Its location, now bypassed and overshadowed by its modern counterpart, makes it a hidden gem for those interested in the state's industrial history. With a small parking area available off Boardman Road, visitors can easily access the eastern entrance of the bridge. Parking is free and offers a convenient starting point for those looking to explore this historic landmark.
As exploration and preservation efforts continue, Old Boardman's Bridge serves as a poignant reminder of the past, bridging the gap between historical engineering and modern advancements. Its potential restoration stands as a beacon of hope for preserving Connecticut's rich architectural legacy, making it a must-visit for anyone drawn to the allure of abandoned and historic sites.