Friday, March 20, 2009

Frog Bridge - Willimantic, Connecticut


If you’re ever driving alongside the Willimantic River and you happen to notice a large frog sitting on the top of what looks like a spool of thread, or a couple of them, you’re either very tired or you’ve arrived at Frog Bridge.

Willimantic, Connecticut used to be known as Thread City because the American Thread Company had a mill here and it was once one of the largest producers of thread in the world.

The frogs are for something else entirely. They don’t have anything to do with the thread.

An event during the French and Indian War, back in 1754, is the purpose for those big frog sculptures. Hearing a frightening cacophony of heaven knows what one night, the villagers grabbed their flintlocks expecting to fend off an Indian Attack.

There was nothing. Nothing but the wild noises from a wilderness.

The next morning they discovered the horrific noise was caused by hundreds upon hundreds of frogs who were battling over water in a nearby dried up pond. The survivors of this Battle of Frog Pond as it came to be known, hipity-hopped down to the Willimantic River, and one presumes, with much relief to all, frogs and people.

In the late 1990s when it was time for a new bridge, these sculptures of frog and thread were plunked as proud symbols of Willimantic’s history, and maybe Willimantic’s sense of humor. Their ancestors might have been frightened out of their beds by the froggy battle, but their descendents got a new four-lane bridge, and the last laugh.

8 comments:

Tony said...

Great post, and kudos to Willimantic for taking such a whimsical
approach... If only more town planning boards would lighten up a
little...

Jacqueline T Lynch said...

Hi, Tony. Thanks for commenting. You're right, I think we have to congratulate Willimantic for taking a bold, honest, silly approach to it's history. Be proud of that thread. Be proud of those frogs. Hurray, Willimantic. Make do with what you've got, I believe, is a typical New England credo.

John Hayes said...

What fun-- the frogs are starting to "sing" out here in Idaho, but I think it's more amorous than bellicose. I never heard of such a thing!

Jacqueline T Lynch said...

Springtime has come to Idaho? Lovely. I'm never willing to admit it's spring here in New England until late April. Always afraid to jinx us. I saw a robin in my tree yesterday. But I'm not saying anything.

Anonymous said...

I was been in Willimantic last July and now I understand the reason of these frogs......
Fun...the first time I've heard 'sing' the frogs in my village I thought it was a burglar alarm!
Thank you from Italy.

Jacqueline T Lynch said...

Welcome, Bienvenuto. Your frogs sounding like a burglar alarm made me laugh.

Dagmar said...

Awesome post! I've lived in Willimantic for 10 years and love our giant frogs. It is a little city with a lot of heart. Next time you visit, check out another gem, the Willimantic Food Co-op (Valley Street) and grab a delicious home-cooked Polish lunch at Nita's (North Street), BBQ dinner at Yellow Rose BBQ (right across the intersection from the Frogs!) or drinks at Willimantic Brew Pub/Main Street Cafe (Main Street, in the gorgeous old Post Office building)!

Jacqueline T Lynch said...

Thanks, Dagmar. I hope everybody will take a ride to Willimantic and check out those spots.