As the days grow longer, and spring comes knocking at your door, the last remnants of snow melt away rousing nature from its slumber, revealing monuments of old that have stood still, waiting patiently for their stories to be reborn. Some of these relics are haunted by ghosts of the past, longing for us to hear their cries. Speaking of haunted places, if you happen to be in Vermont at this time, deep up north there is a town. Next to it, you’ll find the Gold Brook covered bridge. The locals say it is haunted by the ghost of a young maiden betrayed by her beloved.
This past summer, my family and I explored New England’s beautiful, haunted lands. During our travels, we visited the lush green mountains of Vermont. Spanning a sparkling translucent stream, we discovered the picturesque Gold Brook covered bridge near Stowe, a town about half an hour north of Montpelier, the state’s capital, off Highway I-89.
New England Wonder – The Covered Bridge
The Gold Brook covered bridge, originally constructed in 1844, still retains some of the original beams. New England has over 100 picturesque covered bridges that offer more than just a way to cross a stream. Their charming wooden structures and tranquil surroundings make them a perfect spot to take a break and enjoy a peaceful picnic or even climb down to the stream and feel the cool water splash against your skin. Considering the water is clean enough, you don’t wanna end up mutating yourselves.
Most of these bridges were built during the 19th century. The first bridges were built using available local timber. They were strong and flexible but quickly succumbed to decay because of the harsh New England winters. Hence a solution was found, and from the beginning of the 19th century, bridge builders began to protect them with roofs and siding, and so the New England Covered Bridge was born, proving to be a good solution, as many of them are still standing today.
One afternoon, as we returned from grocery shopping at Walmart, we were lucky enough to stumble upon a beautiful covered bridge. We couldn’t resist the amazingness of the site, so we spontaneously stopped for a visit. Built in 1827, the Haverhill-Bath Covered Bridge in New Hampshire is one of the oldest covered bridges in the United States. The bridge is not only stunning itself, but the surrounding view is also breathtaking, especially at sunset. Don’t take my word for it; see for yourselves. If you’re planning a trip to Vermont, New Hampshire, or anywhere in New England, be sure to add at least one covered bridge to your itinerary. It’s the perfect spot to take a break, stretch your legs and relax after a long drive.
From Greedy gold rushers to a heartbroken maiden – The haunted Gold Brook Covered Bridge
Back to our haunted bridge. The story takes us back to 1849 when a fella named Abial Slayton from the nearby town of Stowe traveled to California to join the gold rush. When he returned home, skillful in the art of gold mining, he discovered a gold mine in his backyard, so to speak, at the site of the bridge known as Hollow Brook at that time. He set up a sluicing operation using his newly acquired skills. He extracted about $200 worth of gold, equivalent to over $7000 in today’s value. Although not a significant sum, who would say no to free gold? Later enthusiasts weren’t as fortunate, as the gold quickly ran dry, but not before dubbing it, the Gold Brook covered bridge, hinting at the original treasure mine. But that wouldn’t be the last time the bridge’s name would change. Later events will brand it with a new one, hinting at its’ darker tale.
The bridge is also known as Emily’s Bridge, named after a particular heartbroken maiden. In the mid 19th century, a young farm girl named Emily fell in love with a young, but not much of a gentle, man. The young souls were betrothed, but the lad deserted his maiden on the day of their marriage. Heartbroken and despaired by his betrayal, Emily hanged herself from the bridge, ending her young life. Since that day, the locals believe that her spirit haunts the bridge. They say that her spirit can be seen on moonlit nights, waiting for her beloved to return to her.
While admiring the haunted Gold Brook covered bridge and snapping some photos, we crossed paths with a local woman out for a walk with her dog. We started a conversation, and she shared Emily’s story with us. “She’s a friendly ghost that we occasionally encounter,” the woman said. “She doesn’t mean any harm and merely walks the bridge occasionally.” She also mentioned that she believes Emily may have jumped from the bridge instead of hanging herself.
The sign next to the bridge also states that back in the 70s, witchcraft became a thing in schools nationwide. One summer night, some college students made up a story about a girl named Emily being jilted by her intended. Angry and disappointed, she rode with fury across the bridge. Her horses panicked, and Emily was thrown from the wagon to her death, haunting the bridge ever since. Maybe that’s when her story was born? It’s hard to know since others say the story of Emily hanging herself was already known in the 40s’.
We didn’t see any ghosts there, nor have I ever met a ghost in my life. Then again, we were visiting during the day, so if you happen to visit the bridge on a moonlit night, maybe you’ll get lucky and see her passing by.
A haunted picnic and a dip by Emilys’ Bridge
The Gold Brook covered bridge spans a beautiful creek with clear and sparkling water, an ideal spot for a relaxing picnic and a refreshing dip on warm days in the chilly waters. My kids, being fond of covered bridges, had a blast. The water was shallow and clean, and the local lady we chatted with confirmed that kids in the area love to play here, so mommy wasn’t worried they’d grow a tail and a pair of horns, and we let them jump and play in the water.
If you know me and my blog, you know that I never end a ghost tour on an empty stomach. Hence I saved a sweet dessert for the end, literally. On the way to the bridge from the main road is an ice cream haven, the Ben and Jerry’s factory. You can indulge in your favorite Ben and Jerry’s ice cream flavor there, so check their schedule here to see when you can visit. At the factory, you’ll also find a unique and sweet cemetery dedicated to the flavors that didn’t make it and have been haunting it ever since. Well, not really, but you get the point.
That’s what I call hitting two bats with one stone. Don’t hurt bats, though, they are cute.
A dessert for the dark tourist
At the graveyard, you’ll find tombs of such flavors as White Russian, Devil’s Food Chocolate, and my favorite, the Wich. Salem, beware, I think you might have competition. I think a game should be played here on Halloween where the old flavors are dug up to see if they resurrect.
What do you say, would you like it? Let me know in the comments of this post.
A few things to consider when visiting the factory. There was a long line when we visited, probably because we visited during August. The other thing is the price, which is kind of hefty, in my opinion, as expected at a tourist destination. However, the premises are spacious, with a nice playground for kids to play. If you are looking for an affordable option, consider ordering pints instead of cones. That’s what we did: we ordered two pints and split them between us. I think stopping here is worth the experience, especially if you visit with kids and/or are a Ben and Jerry’s fan like myself.
Next time you are planning to visit Vermont, consider checking out these places, I’m sure you will enjoy them! And if you happen to encounter Emilys’ ghost, sit by the stream and listen to her story. Remember, ghosts are like the living, they just want to be heard.