Thread City Crossing's frog

The Thread City Crossing's four bronze frogs were fixed to the spools on November 15th and 16th, 2000.

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The cost of a highway bridge, at the site of the current footbridge, projected originally at $200,000 frightened the town fathers, and a stiff resistance was built up. The Willimantic Traction Company, which held the trolley car franchise, were keen supporters for the bridge, but they offered no financial report. There was also the question of property damage. No, this scheme was too ambitious. But the pro-bridge faction ploughed on, convening meeting after meeting.

A reader's letter in the Chronicle summed the matter up succinctly. "Not a day passes that teams from New London and South Windham and other villages, sources of income to Willimantic, are not discommoded at our underpass on South Main Street and threatened with extinction at our Union and Lower Main Street railroad crossings. In many cases loaded teams have been caught at the underpass and extracted with great difficulty, say nothing of the numerous railway collisions, etc. which are a weekly occurrence." There was also strong local support for the digging of a tunnel under the Willimantic river.

The town fathers were slowly convinced and they called for estimates. The $200,000 estimate was considered excessive, and a Mr. F. H. Works of the American Bridge Company was invited to speak at a town meeting in April, 1902. He said it would be necessary for engineers to make detailed surveys to produce plans and estimates, and this would take some time. He thought the best ground for a bridge was from Railroad Street, which in those days ran both sides of the footbridge. He envisaged a 24 foot wide, 624 foot long bridge with two 6 foot sidewalks for pedestrians, designed to carry trolley cars of 30 tons weight. This would cost in the region of $55,000. The cost would be less if permission could be obtained from the railroad company to put a supporting pier on their land to reduce the span of the bridge.

A bridge committee was formed by the town, and Melvin Eugene Lincoln, a long time proponent of a bridge, was appointed chairman, and ordered to prepare a report on its feasibility. Political wrangling with the trolley and railroad companies held the report up, but it was finally ready on August 6, 1903. Several sites were considered for the trolley crossing. Improving Bridge Street would have cost $20,000 including land damages. A bridge was considered approximately in the position of today's new bridge, from Jackson to Pleasant. A highway bridge, in the position of the footbridge today, was estimated at $57,000.