An early twentieth century postcard view of the bridge at Freedom Street.

Flood water going over the Freedom Street bridge in 1955. Click here for more on the 1955 flood. Click here for articles on the rebuilding of the bridge in 1989.

                                                      The Trolley Bridge
“...and work on the bridge at Hopedale is progressing rapidly,” reported the Milford Journal on October 23, 1901. The bridge was built as part of the Milford & Uxbridge Street Railway.

In the first picture below, a trolley can be seen on the bridge, and the Little Red Shop, at that time on the west side of the pond, is to the left of the bridge. In the second and third pictures, you can see that they were taken before the Lake Street area houses were built. In the third picture, boat houses can be seen on the right.

                                                      The Cutler Bridge
About a half-mile upstream from the Freedom Street end of the pond, the Cutler Bridge once spanned the little Mill River. It was probably there before the dam, built by the Hopedale Community, created Hopedale Pond, and it was probably gone long before Warren Henry Manning noted that it had once existed, with the caption, “Site of Cutler Bridge” on his 1913 map of the Parklands. I was familiar with the “peninsula,” but not its purpose until I saw the Manning map. Later I found it mentioned in two places in Ballou’s History of Milford. I have also heard that more fill was added there to create a dam for the 1949 dredging project. (It can be seen in an aerial view of the pond  – the picture marked D-4060 – taken during the dredging, but no water is backed up behind it.)

No. 30 is the Cutler place, on an old discontinued “Drift-way or Bridle-Road,” that led from what is now Freedom St., north-eastwardly, over the Cutler bridge, towards the Dea. Rawson place. David Cutler was its most prominent early owner, and dwelt, in 1760, where the ruins now are. Then said ” Drift-Way” was laid. I have never been there to inspect the site, but am told that it is situated on a north-easterly line from the Cutler bridge, forty rods or more in the direction of the Rawson estate. I suppose the Cutler place descended to his heirs, was sold out to different purchasers, and ere long passed out of the family name. The house is said to have been tenanted last by one Pease, who had Indian blood in his veins. I have not been told the date of its final abandonment. Adin Ballou, History of Milford, p. 395.

This family dwelt in the valley of Mill River, a mile north of Hopedale. Their homestead lay south of Eld. Abraham Jones’s, now called the Jared Rawson place, and included a part of the Eli Chapin place, often so called. ” The Cutler Bridge” derived its name from David Cutler. Ballou, History of Milford.

The first three pictures below were taken at the site of the Cutler Bridge in November 2010, when the water level in the pond was unusually low due to a problem at the dam. As mentioned above, I think the bridge must have been there before the dam was built and the pond created by the Hopedale Community in the early 1840s, so the bridge probably didn’t have a span of more than twenty feet or so. The “peninsula” and its normally underwater extension that can be seen in the picture below may have been created as part of the dredging job that was done in 1949.

                                           Rawson’s Bridge
Rawson’s was the name of the first bridge at the present site of the Rustic Bridge, at the north end of the pond. It must have been gone or in bad condition and in need of replacement when the one shown below was built in 1900. It was probably called Rawson’s Bridge also. It was replaced in 1928 by the present bridge.  Based on the postcard view below, evidently the name Rustic Bridge was used for both the 1900 and the 1928 bridges. .

The two photos above were taken by Edwin Darling. These are the only early pictures of the bridge with people on it that I’ve seen.

                                                                     The Rustic Bridge
The name “Rustic Bridge” was evidently used for both the first one built after the establishment of the Parklands, shown in the post card view above, (with a postmark date of 1910 on the other side) and the fieldstone bridge that’s there now. The report of the Park Commissioners for 1900 states, “A rustic bridge of serviceable design was constructed at Second Bridge (so called), enabling communication by foot or team with the Park land on the west side of the river.” So it seems that  “a rustic bridge” eventually became “the Rustic Bridge.” And why the name, Second Bridge? Perhaps the Rawsons had been out of the area for so long that that name had begun to go out of use. However, it  didn’t go out of use entirely. The 1913 map by landscape architect Warren Henry Manning refers to the bridge at the upper end of the pond as Rawson’s Bridge. In 1928, the Park Department reported, “Rawson’s Bridge replaced Cost: $1,300. Stone structure became known as the Rustic Bridge.” Hopedale Park Department History. The photo below, from a negative at the Bancroft Library, is the earliest one that I’ve seen of the bridge that’s there now.

Probably for a number of years in the early twentieth century, the names Rawson’s, Second and Rustic were all used, and over time Rustic was the name that finally caught on.

If the Rustic was the site of the Second Bridge, where was the First Bridge? Probably Cutler’s, but if that was long gone by 1900, it might have referred to the bridge at Freedom Street.

The 1901 report of the Park Commissioners states, “At the Upper Park, it was found that through a misunderstanding the original bridge was not placed sufficiently high to allow boats to pass under properly, so we have raised it materially. The Maroney grove, which includes the best tract of pine timber in town, has been cleaned up, and put into attractive shape for use by picnic parties. We have also started a roadway commencing at Hazel Street and continuing over the new bridge, and through the woods to the Grafton & Upton railroad. While it is by no means a finished way, this road is perfectly passable, and allows a drive of at least a mile within the Park boundaries. With the trolley cars running on the Grafton & Upton road, the public can easily reach this new territory from the western side. There are three good springs in the vicinity, and can only be appreciated by investigation.”

This photo, from the Draper pictures in the Bancroft Library Hopedale history collection, was taken just a year after the fieldstone version of the Rustic Bridge was built. It’s probably the earliest existing picture of it.

Bridges of Hopedale Pond

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