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Bridge No. 1860
A water-level photograph of the Samson Occom Bridge, largely obscured by trees.
Location Massapeag Side Rd. (Rt. 433) over Shantok Brook, Montville, Connecticut
Area less than one acre
Built 1936
Architectural style Vernacular, Rustic
MPS Connecticut State Park and Forest Depression-Era Federal Work Relief Programs Structures TR
NRHP reference No. 93000644
Added to NRHP July 29, 1993

Bridge No. 1860, also known as the Samson Occom Bridge, is a fieldstone arch bridge in Montville, Connecticut, United States. Constructed by the Connecticut State Highway Department in 1936 as a Works Progress Administration project, it is located on Mohegan tribal land in an area that was once a part of Fort Shantok State Park. The bridge carries traffic from Massapeag Side Road (Special Service Road 433) over the Shantok Brook, a tributary of the Thames River. Spanning 12 feet (3.7 m) across the brook, the bridge's arch rises about 6 feet (1.8 m) above the water. According to a 2011 Connecticut Department of Transportation report, it carries 1,100 vehicles per day. Samson Occom Bridge was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1993.

Design

Officially referred to as Bridge Number 1860 in state records, the bridge is commonly known as the "Samson Occom Bridge". On the south end of the bridge is a wooden sign that commemorates the Christian missionary and educator Samson Occom, a colonial-period Mohegan from Montville, Connecticut. The sign does not actually declare it the "Samson Occom Bridge", but states without further explanation that it is the "Site of the Samson Occum Bridge". The stone arch bridge spans 12 feet (3.7 m) across the Shantok Brook, with its arch about 6 feet (1.8 m) over the water. Built in 1936 by the Works Progress Administration, the bridge is constructed of medium-sized fieldstone and laid in cement mortar. The semi-circular arch is constructed with a ring of stones, each about 18 inches (46 cm) deep. Built up by "rubble construction", the structure is made of fieldstone, including the wing walls. Rising above the 16 feet (4.9 m) roadway are the spandrels of the bridge, which form low parapets with ramped ends. The total length of the bridge, including the railings, is about 20 feet (6.1 m) long.

Preservation

In May 1991, the Connecticut Historic Bridge Inventory plan outlined a plan for the preservation of the Samson Occom Bridge. It is unlikely that traffic would require replacement or modification of the bridge in the foreseeable future. According to a 2011 Connecticut Department of Transportation report, the bridge carries 1,100 vehicles per day. The biggest threat to the bridge is moisture control and the repair of eroded surfaces. Stone arch bridges rarely require structural rehabilitation, but an alternative solution to structural rehabilitation would be to use concrete slab imbedded above the arch, only requiring raising the roadway. The report stated that the "rustic quality" of the bridge is not compatible with roadways larger than two lanes, but that additional width could be facilitated without compromising its historical significance.

Importance

The National Register of Historic Places nomination states that the Samson Occum Bridge is significant as an example of the 1930s public works programs and as an example of "the picturesque park architecture of the early 20th century." It was constructed at a time when cobblestone masonry was a popular choice for state park structures, but also after masonry was considered an obsolete building material. The bridge has added significance as an example of the work conducted by the federal Works Progress Administration.

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