The stone footbridge on a trail behind Crescent Street was constructed on behalf of the Weston Forest and Trail Association, and has been named “Lee’s Bridge” in recognition of Lee Cohen, who served on Forest and Trail’s board for several decades, and who devoted many years to designing, marking and maintaining walking trails in Weston, as well as in mid-coast Maine and the northern tip of New Zealand’s South Island.
It was not long after Lee and his wife Rhoda and three young children moved to Weston in 1964, to a new home on land they had purchased two years earlier located between South Avenue and the Weston Reservoir, that the family met neighbors Dr. and Mrs. William Elliston who lived just down the hill. Bill and Harriet lived in a Colonial-era farmhouse with a large garden in the back, which was particularly famed for its peonies and raspberries, sold from a self-serve stall along South Avenue. Bill is considered to have played a (if not the) leading role in conserving land and preserving and enhancing the trail network in Weston, through his longtime position as chairman of the Weston Planning Board, as well as his active involvement in Weston Forest and Trail, which he helped to establish in 1955.
The Cohen family joined Weston Forest and Trail soon after moving to town, and began to take part in the organization’s monthly walks, many of which were led by Dr. Elliston. It was from Bill that Lee learned of a customary practice followed by most owners of open land in Weston: to allow walkers and horseback riders to use the trails crossing their land. Lee readily agreed to keep trails across his land open to public use. He later joined Weston Forest and Trail’s board, and helped with marking and maintaining trails throughout the Town. Lee and Rhoda also hosted several of Weston Forest and Trail’s monthly walks, culminating in post-walk “teas”, a tradition which Harriet and Bill fostered, and which may have been brought over with Bill from his native England. Some years later, the Cohen family donated to Weston Forest and Trail a six-acre section of their land that abutted the Weston Reservoir property.
More recently, while Lee’s declining health prevented him from building trails or taking part in the monthly Weston Forest and Trail walks, he continued his involvement in the Association, as well as other groups engaged in conserving land and creating and enhancing opportunities to enjoy it. Among the trail projects he initiated and helped realize were several footbridges that greatly facilitated public access to and enjoyment of conservation land. This is what gave Rhoda the idea of looking for an opportunity to partner with a conservation organization to identify a location needing a footbridge, and then to assist that group to make it happen. Rhoda enlisted her son Russell to help in that task, and several conversations were initiated with conservation groups, including Weston Forest and Trail, on potential bridge projects.
These conversations were still underway at the time of Lee’s passing, in November of 2011. Rhoda and Russell continued to look for a fitting location for a bridge, and, with the help of friend Jack Deary and George Bates, a member of Weston Forest and Trail’s board, eventually settled on the Three Mile Brook crossing. George contracted Mike Doyle to build the bridge and oversaw its construction. Mike, a Weston resident bricklayer and stone mason, had successfully repaired a bridge for Weston Forest & Trail some years earlier. Based on suggestions from Rhoda and Russell, Mike and George developed a design for a stone bridge with wooden railings. Construction began this past fall, and took about two weeks. The three-person team [R1] first built a new access path, so that a ton of bricks and stone could be brought in by wheelbarrow. An existing large boulder served as the foundation on one side of the stream, but a new foundation with stones and cement had to be built on the other side. A large piece of curved plywood was placed between the two foundations, and a layer of bricks and rebar was cemented on top. Once that had set, the plywood was removed, and a final layer of stones was cemented on top of the bricks, creating a nonskid surface. As the final touch, wooden handrails were installed on both sides.
Several weeks later, lifelong Weston resident Jim Anza was enlisted to move a large flat boulder up on the hillside overlooking the bridge and gorge, so people could comfortably sit down to enjoy the view.
In assisting Weston Forest and Trail on this project, the Cohen family wishes to express its gratitude to that organization and to the many people who have helped to protect Weston’s conservation land, maintain the extensive trail system, and preserve the rural character and natural beauty of the town.