The famous “shot heard ‘round the world” was fired on April 19, 1775, by a member of a militia raised from Concord and nearby towns including Acton, Bedford and Lincoln.
The troops, nicknamed “minutemen,” repulsed British troops that had marched from Boston to Concord to search for weapons and ammunition being stored at a Concord farm.
The west, or “American” side of the bridge features the Minute Man, a famous statue created by sculptor Daniel Chester French. The statue depicts a farmer who is walking away from his plow, rifle in hand, to fight for what would become a new nation.
The Minute Man, dedicated in 1885 to mark the 100th anniversary of the skirmish, features an inscription from an Emerson’s “Concord Hymn” reading, “By the rude bridge that arched the flood, their flag to April’s breeze unfurled, here once the embattled farmers stood and fired the shot heard ‘round the world.”
On the east (“British) side of the river, the first monument commemorating the fighting at North Bridge was dedicated in 1836. The obelisk features an inscription on its east face reading, “Here on the 19 of April 1775 was made the first forcible resistance to British aggression. On the opposite bank stood the American Militia. Here stood the Invading Army and on this spot the first of the Enemy fell in the War of that Revolution which gave Independence to these United States. In gratitude to God and in the love of Freedom this Monument was dedicated. AD 1836.”
The Minute Man was the first major monument for French, who would later sculpt the statue of Abraham Lincoln in Washington’s Lincoln Memorial. The Minute Man image serves as the logo for the U.S. National Guard, appears on savings bonds, and was on the back of the 2000 quarter honoring Massachusetts.
The statue was cast from former Civil War cannons (which was common for monuments created in that era).
Today’s version of Old North Bridge, which stands over the Concord River, was built in 1956 and restored in 2005. The bridge is the fifth to stand on that location, which is vulnerable to flooding that has claimed several bridges over the years.
About a quarter-mile away from the bridge, a former homestead has been converted into the North Bridge Visitor’s Center. In front of the center, a monument honors Major John Buttrick, a local farmer and militia leader who led the minutemen down the hillside toward North Bridge.