The French King Bridge was conceived as part of a State Highway Department project to relocate a hazardous seven-mile stretch of the old Mohawk Trail Highway between Erving and Greenfield. The old route had wound through the villages of Millers Falls and Turners Falls on a course marked by steep grades, sharp curves, narrow bridges, right angle turns and a pair of at- grade railroad crossings. The principal challenge was the crossing of the precipitous Connecticut River gorge near the French King Rock, named by the French officer of an Indian scouting party during the French and Indian Wars.
The structural type of bridge chosen for the site was based on the high level of the crossing, the need to fit the bridge into this dramatic setting and the dramatic conditions at the site including the height and steepness of the gorge’s banks, irregular depth, rocky bottom and swift current of the river. The result was a graceful 3-span arch design that was erected by the cantilever method. The construction of the bridge began in September of 1931 and the bridge was completed (at a cost of $385,000) and opened to travel on September 10, 1932. That year ite was named the most beautiful bridge of its class in the nation by the American Institute of Steel Construction.
Route 2, immediately north of Dorsey/River Roads
Gill, MA 01344