The Building of the Arrigoni Bridge


The following pictures and excerpts were taken from a commemorative booklet dated August 6, 1938, honoring the completion of the Arrigoni Bridge. The title of the booklet was The Middletown-Portland Bridge. While the photos give a wonderful visual into the past, the words become an integral part of the overall experience, mentioning such things as "motor cars," to differentiate them from cars that were pulled by horse. The booklet speaks more about Middlesex County than the actual building of the Arrigoni Bridge. Our thanks to Janice Cross, who brought this commemorative to our attention.

"The [Connecticut] river has been a barrier in the case of east and west routes, so that its crossing has always been a problem. At first ferriage was conducted by individuals, with or without public license and regulation, and effected by means of canoes, rowboats, and scows. A publicly licensed ferry seems to have been operated at Windsor as early as 1642; the first in Middlesex County was authorized from Saybrook to Lyme in 1662; the next was Chapman's, between Haddam and East Haddam, in 1664; Brockway's at Essex came in 1724; and the one at Middletown not until 1726. In 1819, there were ten such ferries operating within Middlesex County..."



"The first bridge across the Connecticut was built at Bellows Falls in 1785, but no bridge spanned the river within this state till 1808, when one was opened at Enfield. David Dudley Field, writing in 1819, observed: 'The width, the force, and especially the navigation of the Connecticut, are such as to render it very improbable that bridges will ever be thrown over it, within the bounds of this country.' This prophecy is now disproved for the eighth time, and for the first time by a bridge without a draw span."

"Until the nineteenth century the roads of Middlesex County were deplorable makeshifts so that land travel was mostly on horseback. The first pleasure carriage in the County is said to have been used in Killingworth (Clinton) in 1748; the first in Middletown was about 2 years later. Stages to carry the mail began to run on the past road along the Sound in 1794 and on the post road from New Haven through Middletown to Hartford, even earlier, in 1785."



"The first railroad in Middlesex County was the Branch from Berlin to Middletown built in 1850. Passenger service in this line has now ceased as it has on the Air Line opened to Middletown in 1870..."

"In the 1890's began the development of electric trolley lines which gave valued service to several localities until a few years ago. Now motor busses operate on all these routes and some others, but the main reliance for passenger transportation within the County for at least a decade has been the private automobiles, first introduced some forty years ago, of which there are over 14,000 registered within the county."



"The basic occupation within the County has always been diversified farming. In more recent times, there have been efforts at specialization, such as tobacco-growing in Portland, fruit-growing in Middlefield, and the florist and nursery businesses in Cromwell..." "Shipbuilding and ship-chandlery in various forms have been carried on since the time of the first settlers."