Fitch’s Bridge coming down

Fitch’s Bridge before the demolition work started. Photo taken by David Pitkin, used with permission

Groton, Mass. (USA)

A few months ago, this bridge was featured in an article on the massacre of historic bridges in the United States, which had caused alarm to many who were attached to them and their history.  After approving a measure in February to demolish the bridge, work has now started on the Fitch’s Bridge.  As early as last week, as seen in this picture by David Pitkin, barriers that had kept the people off the bridge have been removed and much of the remaining decking has long since disappeared. Excavators are at the site and this double-intersecting Warren through truss bridge will be gone by the end of the month. In its place will be a new bridge which will be part of the project to complete the bike trail network along the Nashua River, which the 1898 bridge once crossed.

The new bridge will be its fourth at its present location for the first bridge was built ca. 1750 as a wooden bridge. After 120 years and many repairs, it was replaced in 1871 and again with this structure in 1898. After serving traffic for almost 70 years, the bridge was closed to all vehicular traffic in 1965, and for the next 35 years, served pedestrians who walked along the river, marveling at the beauty of it and the bridge that crossed it. In 2000, the bridge was condemned, barricaded with concrete to all traffic after much of the decking disappeared and the structure deteriorated to a point where it was no longer safe to use.

While interest was there to repair and reopen the bridge as part of the bike trail network, two thirds of the town voted unanimously to tear the bridge down and replace it with something new. While the reasons are understandable- safety and liability isues, combined with structural issues with the bridge- the demise of the bridge has more to do with the lack of resources and options that were available at their disposal. Already, concerns for the bridge had started to arise after it was reduced to pedestrians only but the movement towards saving historic bridges had just started, and to this day, despite the public becoming more aware of the importance of these antiquities, there is still a lack of information on restoration options that cost a fraction of bridge replacement and threfore could have saved Fitch.

It is unknown what will replace Fitch, but it is clear that whatever comes in to replace it will never look like the bridge that the people of Groton were used to and are about to lose to history. Therefore, many of them are saying good-bye to a treasure that had served its purpose for almost 120 years, in hopes that the new bridge will have the exact charm as its predecessor and last just as long.

David Pitkin has a gallery of photos of Fitch’s Bridge available on flickr, which you can click here.  In addition, Fitch’s Bridge has a facebook site, where you can follow up on the bridge replacement process. The history of the bridge can also be found by clicking here.