The cover of “Walk Your Horses: The Story of the Mystic River Bridge,” which celebrates the history of the Mystic River Highway Bridge.
Mystic – The Mystic River Drawbridge’s critical role in the development, and possibly existence, of Mystic is detailed in a new book published by the Mystic River Historical Society and the Greater Mystic Chamber of Commerce.
“Walk Your Horses: The Story of the Mystic River Bridge” explores the Mystic River Highway Bridge, from the early 1800s $2,500 wooden drawbridge to today’s steel and concrete structure, the oldest bascule. Celebrate history through six incarnations. One of the most famous bridges in Japan.
Co-authored by two members of the Historical Society Board of Directors, former Mystic newspaper editor Marilyn Comrie and Groton Historical Society Collections Manager Elizabeth Boucher, the book began as an exhibition at the Groton Public Library.
It was then transformed into the bridge’s 100th anniversary booklet, and at the end of their 15 months of work, a coffee table book of about 100 pages was born. The book is filled with personal perspectives from locals, archival material, and photographs spanning three centuries of him.
“This isn’t just a book about bridges, it’s about the history of Mystic,” Comrie said.
The title dates back to the days before cars, when speed limits were set based on the speed of the horse rather than the speed of the motor-driven vehicle. The horse-walking rule means keeping horses at a minimum speed, a walk, while passing through town, and fines can be as high as $4 for going too fast.
In 1819, a rough wooden bridge was built just north of where the drawbridge stands today, paving the way for the development of Mystic, according to the author.
As the two small villages on either side of the river, then known as the Lower Mystic, transformed from a shipbuilding center to a manufacturing and industrial center and today a famous tourist destination, the bridge is an interstate highway. It provided a thoroughfare for people traveling to and from Boston before the road. A highway system was developed.
It was also the basis for the transformation of what is known as Downtown Mystic.
Downtown exists because of the bridges, not the other way around.” As the East and West Main Streets were built, there was a road leading to the bridge. ”
Beyond the bridge itself, the book looks to the history of the surrounding area, documenting major changes in the area from the founding of Mystic in 1654 to the bridge’s 100th anniversary in 2022.
The book’s detailed timeline explores its rise through various stages of its growth as it is known as the Lower Mystic. In 1828 the Stonington side of Mystic was known as Mystic Bridge and the Groton side was known as Portersville and in 1851 became the Mystic River, Mystic referring to what is known today as Old Mystic.
“Before the bridge, there was nothing downstream. Everything was upstream. Old Mystic was the center of everything. was.
“What impressed me most was how Bridge kept development away from Old Mystic. I love the story of Old Mystic becoming Old Mystic,” said Boucher.
Comrie explains that the original bridge attracted development down the river, including shipyards, stores, and eventually banks, and in 1890 the United States Postal Service moved the village at the head of the river from what is now Old Mystic. I took the Mystic name and gave it. to downtown.
“The people of Old Mystic were outraged,” she said.
The book is full of photos and stories from a bygone era, as well as more contemporary stories such as the beginnings of the Mystic Seaport Museum, hurricanes and fires, parades and wartime activities leading up to the acquisition of Mystic River Park. .
Whether it’s the story of a 12-year-old boy who bought ice cream in 1917, or the current Mystic Drawbridge Ice Cream Café, which has gone through various iterations over three centuries, or the bridge bidders, it’s their story. . The book highlights the significant impact the bridge has had on people around the world and on their immediate neighbors.
“Walk Your Horses” is available for $45 at the Mystic Chamber Bascule Bridge Visitor Center in the former Mystical Toys building on West Main Street.