Williamsburg’s Crim Dell Pond and Bridge

The Crim-Dell Bridge

photography by: Omri Westmark

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It is often the case where university campuses all over the world offer far more than simply educational facilities to acquire a bachelor's degree at. There is no better evidence for that statement than the College of William & Mary in Williamsburg VA, where a wooden bridge across a pond doesn’t only serve as a peaceful nook to stroll over, but also as a source for numerous outlandish fables and rumors.

Tucked away in a secluded corner of the College of William and Mary, the second oldest academic institution in the US, Crim Dell is a wooded area west of the Sunken Garden, known primarily for its pond and iconic bridge. Once a trash-filled ravine, the dell was initially designated as a location for the campus’s new library. However, the then college president, Davis Paschall, had other plans when he overruled the plan and instead allocated the land for a hidden garden.


Following Paschall’s decision to beautify the filthy gully, the existing pond (artificially created by the damming of a small stream) was replenished with extra water, while the previous derelict bridge was replaced with a brand-new structure. Inaugurated in 1964, the pond and its newly-constructed bridge were named Crim Dell, a gesture for one of the college’s former students, John W. H. Crim, whose family funded some of the project, alongside two additional donors.


Over the years, the oriental-style wooden bridge has been linked with several myths. Legend has it that if two persons cross the bridge while holding their hand together, they will become life-long friends, whereas if they also kiss at the pinnacle, they will end up as lovers. On the other hand, a visitor who walk across the bridge solely by himself will find himself forever alone. Another urban legend was the crowning of Crim Dell as the second most romantic place among all college campuses in the US by the playboy adult magazine.


Perhaps the most unusual ritual revolving the bridge was the practice of jumping off its crest as part of William & Mary’s local version of a triathlon. The plunge into Crim Dell’s murky waters preceded by two other parts, leaping over the walls of the former governor’s palace building as well as a bare-skin running across the nearby Sunken Garden. Regardless of its unconventional reputation, the bridge and its surrounding natural scenery provide an enjoyable respite from the otherwise overly touristy sites of Williamsburg.