Visiting Vermont, Part Four

Meanwhile, back in Vermont ... after leaving Marshfield and the Martin Bridge behind I continued west on Route 2 until I found myself arriving in Vermont's Capital City - Montpelier.  I had to admit that I was rather surprised at how small of a Capital City it is but that really made it that much more quaint; come to find out it's the smallest Capital City in the United States with a population of under 9,000!

It was easy to spot the State House as I drove into town so I decided a quick stop to take some pictures was in order - much to the dismay of my GPS which was trying mightily to get me to Stowe!  Oh, recalculate and deal with it, woman!  Keeping my eye on the golden dome, it was easy to get to the State House and even easier to find a place to park as the street in front seemed totally abandoned.  Was it a Vermont holiday or something?!?  Not that that was a problem, mind you, as it gave me the chance to take a picture with absolutely no distractions in it like pesky cars or people (well, if you look closely there are three people walking in front of the steps of the building but they're pretty hard to spot!).

The current State House, nicknamed "The People's House", is the third capital building to have stood in this very spot and was completed in 1859.  The building is designed in the Neoclassical style with Greek Revival detail and was completely and carefully restored in the early 1980's.  The State House's dome, copper on a wood substructure which was not gilded until the early 20th century, is topped by a statue titled "Agriculture" though she's more commonly referred to as Ceres, the Roman goddess of agriculture. The statue was carved in 1938 by Vermont's Sergeant-at-Arms, 87-year old Dwight Dwinell.

Next time I'm in Vermont I wouldn't mind popping in for a tour of the interior of the State House but alas, this time I was on a mission and I was bound and determined to make it over to Stowe in a timely manner.  There were covered bridges waiting somewhere in the woods for me while the sun was shining brightly so I merely took a couple shots of the outside edifice, got back in the car, and made my GPS unit happy by heading back in the right direction!

After a quick stop for gas and a soda, I drove into the picturesque Lower Village of Stowe less than 45 minutes later and began my search for Emily's Bridge which, according to my printout, was located off of Route 100 - the main road I had come in on.  There were pretty houses -

and a quintessential white clapboard New England church with a beautiful steeple -

as well as an "Old Tyme" general store -

but alas, there were no covered bridges that I could see.  Fortunately, there was also a good-sized tourist information center so I popped in and asked the clerk where I might be able to find Emily's Bridge.  She whipped out a local attraction map and circled the location of the bridge (nowhere near Route 100 I might add!) as well as the location of the other two bridges in the area.  After I thanked her profusely for her help, she sent me off with the warnings of "Emily's Bridge is reported to be haunted" and "Watch out for the muddy spots!"  I wasn't really worried about the first but the latter had me a little concerned, especially when I found my route of travel to be on some very, very muddy roads!

Fortunately I didn't slide off into a ditch while making my way up and down some rather steep roads that had to be what driving on a Slip n' Slide would be like and about ten minutes later I finally pulled up to the Gold Brook Bridge aka Emily's Bridge -

The current bridge is the second one to span Gold Brook with the first being built in 1803. The present bridge was designed and built by John W. Smith in 1844 in the Howe Truss style which uses iron rods and angle blocks making it extremely sturdy. Apparently finding a Howe Truss in a 48-foot highway bridge in the middle of Vermont is something of an anomaly as the design was used for the much more stringent loading requirements of railroad bridges. I guess Mr. Smith wanted to build a bridge that was going to last!  Emily's Bridge is in very good shape and will apparently remain so as in 1969 the town signed an agreement for perpetual care of the bridge.  There's a bronze plaque in the grassy area near the east portal that declares their resolution but I didn't see it while I was there - under a snow bank perhaps?

Now as to the legend of Emily and the haunting of the bridge there are three different versions of the story: First and foremost is that she was forbidden to see the man she loved anymore as her parents felt that he was too poor so she and he made plans to meet at the bridge and run off together. Her parents caught wind of their plans and hired some local thugs to rough up Emily’s intended so that he was unable to make it to the bridge at the appointed time. Emily waited all night long and, when he failed to show up, out of despair she hung herself from the rafters of the bridge.

The second version has Emily being left at the altar by her fiancé whereupon she grabbed the family wagon and horses and went galloping off down the road; blinded by hurt and anger she failed to negotiate the turn near the bridge and Emily, the horses, and the wagon all careened over the steep bank and plunged into Gold Brook where Emily and the horses met their demise.

Third, homely Emily became pregnant and when her father insisted that she and her boyfriend marry, the boyfriend decided to hang himself on the bridge rather than marry her; after Emily gave birth to still-born twins, she also hung herself from the bridge. 

The legend is said to have begun in 1849 and since then the bridge has been haunted with what is rumored to be the ghost of a very angry Emily. Some of the events that people have reported include scratches on passing wagons and now cars, a woman’s voice has been heard in the bridge either screaming or crying or asking for help, strange lights have been seen in and around the bridge, ghostly figures have been seen, and some have even reported hearing the sound of something dragging across the roof of their vehicle as they drive across the bridge which they assume to be the sound of Emily’s hanging feet dragging across the top of car.

Even knowing all of this beforehand, I didn't feel the least bit creeped out or afraid while I was walking around and through the bridge taking pictures.  As much as I would love to tell you that Emily and I connected and had a meaningful Ghost Whisperer "cross over to the light" kinda conversation whereupon I encouraged the ghost of Emily to release her anger and along with it the bonds that hold her to this earthly plane, either Emily was taking the afternoon off or was feeling more benevolent than angry the day I was there as she decided not to show. Heck, I didn't even get a single orb in any of the pictures I took so what kind of haunted bridge is that?

Ah well, with a view to the east from the bridge like this -

Vermont Mountains

it still made for a darned enjoyable day and there were still more bridges to be found even if they weren't of the haunted variety. With tourist map in hand and the GPS programmed with a target destination, I set off down the muddy road to continue my adventure.


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