Built in 1844 by John W. Smith, the famous Gold Brook Covered Bridge (more commonly known as Emily’s Bridge) was constructed to carry Covered Bridge Road across the Gold Brook river. At 48.5 feet long and 17 feet wide, the wooden bridge is Vermont’s oldest covered bridge constructed in Howe truss design; the two other surviving Howe truss in Vermont are the Connecticut River Bridges at Lunenburg and the Rutland Railroad Bridge at Shoreman.
The Howe Truss design consist of wooden upper and lower chords linked together by a combination of dual iron rods, wooden braces and counter braces. The braces are shoved against the chords with angle blocks, forming a triangular support that provides the bridge with the necessary structural integrity and strength to support massive load.
In 1974, Emily’s Bridge was added to the National Register of Historic Places for its historical significance to the state of Vermont. Today, the bridge is popular tourist attraction in Stowe due to the fabled hauntings reported by residents since the late 1970s. However, the slew of ghost hunters and partiers visiting the bridge at night have led to numerous complaints by residents living in the vicinity. In an attempt to keep people away from the bridge at night, the town of Stowe implemented an ordinance in 2013, making it a violation to park near or on Emily’s Bridge at night.
The Story of Emily at Gold Brook Covered Bridge
The legend tells the tragic tale of Emily, a young lady who grew up in a poor family in Stowe. During the 1920s when Emily was a teenager, she fell in love with a young man from a rich family. Due to Emily’s poor background, their relationship was disapproved by the man’s family. Against all wishes, the young man decides to wed Emily. As their wedding was denied, the couple decided to elope and escape out of Stowe.
The couple, madly in love with each other, soon hatched an escape plan and decided to meet at Gold Brook Covered Bridge one night. However, the man never showed up. As Emily waited in the bridge, desperation turns into despair. Distraught at his betrayal, Emily reportedly hung herself from the rafters in the dead of the night. Her body was supposedly found early in the morning by traders making their way into the town of Stowe.
An alternative story of Emily says that the couple was supposed to marry at a church in Stowe, but the groom never arrived. Angered by his disappearance, the jilted bride took hold of a horse wagon and raced off to the groom’s house located on the outskirts of Stowe. As Emily approached the bridge on a turn, the wagon overturned, dragging Emily and the horses over the bank and into Gold Brook. Emily and the horses died in the fatal accident.
In honor of Emily’s pursuit for love, locals at Stowe decided to nickname the historic bridge “Emily’s Bridge”.
Hauntings at Emily’s Bridge
The ghost of Emily is said to linger at Emily’s Bridge, seemingly waiting for her fiancé to show up. However, the apparition is said to be hostile towards anyone who uses the bridge. Many crossing the haunted bridge have reported hearing shuffling footsteps and whispers, as well as seeing a white figure at the other end. Visitors who drive across the bridge at night have also claimed to have heard an unexplainable scratching sound across the sides of their cars.
In spite of the reported hauntings, local historians have debunked the story of Emily as there were no records of a suicide at the bridge, nor was there historical evidence of a girl named Emily in Stowe. However, a young girl was said to have fallen from Emily’s Bridge in the 1920s in an accident; she landed head first on a boulder at Gold Brook.
In fact, Gold Brook Bridge may not even be Emily’s Bridge. Located just down the road near Nichols Farm is another covered bridge that resembled Gold Brook Covered Bridge. Unfortunately, it was burned down in 1932 and was replaced by a concrete one that remains still in use today.
Nancy Stead, a resident of Stowe and columnist for the Stowe Reporter, have also came forward to claim credits for the legend of Emily. She said to have started the rumor with her friend during the 1970s—a time when horror movies like The Exorcist drove a huge interest in the occult and the paranormal—to scare local youths in Stowe. What started off as a joke to scare young kids wading in the river would go on to become a local folklore that turned Emily Bridge from a historic bridge to a haunted attraction.
Directions to Gold Brook Covered Bridge
Emily’s Bridge, or Gold Brook Covered Bridge, is located in the town of Stowe at Lamoille County, Vermont. To visit Emily’s Bridge from Stowe, drive southeast bound along School St, Stowe Hollow Rd and Covered Bridge Rd. The bridge as well as a small parking lot can be found at the end of Covered Bridge Rd. Watch out for traffic on the other side of Emily’s Bridge as it is the intersection of Gold Brook Rd and Stowe Hollow Rd.