The History of Willimantic’s Frog Bridge

Meghan Brooks   Contributing Writer

Traveling around the Willimantic, Connecticut area, many people pass over the Thread City Crossing bridge, also known as “the frog bridge.” This landmark holds much history to Connecticut, primarily to residents in Willimantic. Ever since the bridge was remade in 2000, it has remained a soft spot in people’s hearts.

Most of the time, when people see the bridge for the first time, many people wonder about the frog theme. Mathematics major Bryce Mase, 21, stated, “Why the heck are there frogs here?”

The new bridge that stands almost 500 ft replaces the old stone bridge from 1857, where it now stands as a garden walkway in Windham Mills State Heritage Park. Standing at 11 ft tall, the bronze frogs sitting atop thread spools represent the story of Connecticut’s manufacturing past, as well as the frightful night in June of 1754.

As told in the story of the Windham Frog Fight, long ago on a hot June evening, townspeople were scared awake by loud shrieking and roars. Some say they were awoken hearing their names in the night. Villagers left their homes armed with muskets to find what was causing the sounds, imagining judgment day upon them. Shooting at sounds in the night till dawn arose, the villages found that the sounds were coming from the bottom of a hill, where a tiny pond sat.

What the villagers did not know was that the drought that summer had limited the water in the area, drawing frogs from miles around to this one water source, leading them to fight over territory.

Finding the bodies of bull frogs around the water, from being either shot or killed in their fight for dominance of the water, the Willimantic people walked away laughing, with a story to tell for generations to come.

Now, Connecticut residents like social work major Kayleen Deegan, 19, embrace this legend, pridefully sharing it with the bronze frogs standing proud on top of the Thread City Crossing bridge. “I thought the frogs were really cool when I first saw them. I liked the way they were made with their gold eyes, and a leg hanging down. The bridge makes this part of town look new compared to older Main Street,” Deegan shared.

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