Flowering reuse

"The Bridge of Flowers,'' in Shelburne Falls, Mass.    -- Photo by FFM784

"The Bridge of Flowers,'' in Shelburne Falls, Mass.

-- Photo by FFM784

From Robert Whitcomb's "Digital Diary,'' in GoLocal24.com

There’s a lot of abandoned infrastructure in New England. After all, we’re an old region. It’s always pleasant to see old structures reused in ingenious ways. Take the Bridge of Flowers, in Shelburne Falls, in western Massachusetts. This is a lovely arched concrete railroad span built in 1908 by the evocatively named Shelburne Falls & Colrain Street Railway Co.

The bridge was abandoned in 1927 because of the financial woes of the company and was quickly overgrown with weeds. But within a couple of years, local volunteers came up with the idea of carting soil onto the bridge and turning it into something that they named the Bridge of Flowers. It became a tourist attraction, with a great diversity of blooms through the growing season.

So important -- psychologically, sociologically and economically -- had the  Bridge of Flowers become that when in the early ‘80s, the bridge required major repairs, locals came up with more than half a million dollars to fix it. Volunteers continue to plant and care for the plants

Heartening reuse. You could to say the same thing about bike paths on old railroad rights of way, although it would be better for the environment and economy if some of these old routes were instead passenger rail lines again. Even the famous East Bay Bike Path, in Rhode Island.