Covered Bridges – Romantic or Haunting?

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The darkness of covered bridges can shield all kinds of things from watchful eyes.  A stolen kiss or perhaps something more sinister.  How do you feel as you travel under one of New Hampshire or Vermont covered bridges?  As you enter into the dark shade do you feel the romance or is there something that sends the hairs on the back of your neck on edge?  Perhaps you are too fearful of the old wooden floor boards giving way under your feet or on the look out for a car coming around the bend.

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There are several documented haunted bridges in Vermont.

Emily’s Bridge Stowe Vermont

Located in Stowe Vermont, Gold Brook Bridge is not your ordinary covered bridge. This bridge is also known as “Emily’s Bridge,” due to the fact that it is haunted by a ghost named Emily. There are many stories of how Emily died on the bridge. One story is that she was supposed to elope with a lover who was meeting her at the bridge, and when he didn’t show, she hung herself from the rafters. Another version of this Vermont legend also starts as a love story. Emily met a man who stole her heart, and the couple made plans to marry. The fateful day arrived, and Emily went to the church in her beautiful red wedding dress ready to give herself to the gentleman in holy wedlock. The groom never arrived, and the jilted bride took the family wagon in a frenzy of anger and sorrow. She was merciless on the horses, and whipped them until they were traveling at an incredible pace, planning perhaps to confront the faithless groom. As she approached the bridge, she failed to negotiate the turn right before the bridge and drove the horses and carriage over the bank and onto the rocky brook below. Both the horses and Emily were killed in the accident. There is no written historical evidence that Emily ever existed, however. The first mention of the bridge being haunted by someone named “Emily” came after 1968 when a high school student wrote a paper on the subject claimingthat while he/she was using a Ouija board on the bridge, an entity presented itself named Emily. Other people using Ouija boards have reported that an entity has identified itself as Emily and said that she was killed on the bridge by her finance’s mother. http://www.emilysbridge.com/

One woman said she made up the story to keep her children from crossing the bridge.

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Why cover a bridge in the first place?

With a great abundance of timber, the earliest ones were constructed of wood and used trusses as their key structural design element. Many of the oldest bridges were built as post to pile construction, where columns called piles are used to support spans called posts. Wooden bridges lacking overhead enclosures deteriorate quickly with exposure to the elements, lasting a mere 10 to 15 years. By adding a roof to protect the structural underpinnings, builders realized bridges could stand for about 75 years. Despite having a roof serious threats including vandalism, insect damage, arson, flooding and neglect can lead to disrepair. In efforts to preserve them, bridges are renovated with steel trusses and concrete footings to increase support on the timbers.
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New Hampshire Has 54 Existing Covered Bridges

Among New Hampshire’s 54 covered bridges is the world’s longest two-span covered bridge. Shared with Vermont, the Cornish-Windsor Bridge stretches for 450 feet (137m) across the Connecticut River. You can drive through it on Route 12A, which links Cornish, N.H. and Windsor, Vt. The oldest covered bridge still in use in New Hampshire is photogenic Bath-Haverhill Bridge. Built in 1829, it crosses the Ammonoosuc River, off Route 302.

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Vermont’s 106 Covered Bridges

Not only does Vermont boast a whopping 106 covered bridges, the Vermont Covered Bridge Museum is the world’s first and only museum dedicated to this kind of structure. Find it at the Bennington Center for the Arts, near the town of Bennington. The museum features everything from bridge designers and build-your-own bridges to artwork and movies about covered bridges. And, Bennington County itself has five bridges that are still in use.

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