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Drake Hill Road Bridge
• Former Drake Hill Road over Farmington River
• Wrought-iron and steel Parker through truss
• Length: 183'
• Built in 1892
• J. E. Buddington, engineer
Now bypassed by a modern bridge to the north, Drake Hill Road Bridge is a typical 19th-century highway truss. It has pinned connections, and its narrow roadway shows that it was designed in an age before motor vehicles were a consideration. In form, it is a Parker truss, a Pratt truss in which the top chord is curved to make the truss deeper in the middle. The Parker design was used extensively for long spans.
The bridge was designed, manufactured, and erected by controversial New Haven engineer John E. Buddington. From the time of his graduation from Yale's Sheffield Scientific School in 1877, Buddington publicly attacked the work of other bridge engineers and promoted his own ideas. He worked for a time for the New Haven Railroad (whose engineering he had criticized as a student) and Berlin Iron Bridge Company, before starting his own firm in the 1890s. Many of the details of this bridge are highly unusual. Buddington's originality appears in such eccentricities as the use of cast-iron spacer spools and the original floor system, now modified, in which closely spaced cross beams were supported directly from the lower chord. The bridge was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1984.