Built in 1844 Gold Brook Covered Bridge may not be the oldest covered bridge in New England, nor is it the longest, but it may be the most visited and Googled bridge in America. The signs on the bridge do not indicate the name of the bridge but if it did and were the sign to be accurate it would read Gold Brook Covered Bridge/Stowe Hollow Bridge/Emily’s Bridge. I will call it “Emily’s Bridge” for the story is really more about Emily than the bridge itself.
Emily’s Bridge is located in Stowe, Vermont and crosses Gold Brook near the intersection of Covered Bridge Road and Stowe Hollow Road.
Emily’s story begins in 1849 when she fell in love with a young man whom her parents forbid her to marry. Throwing caution to the wind they planned to elope. They would meet at the Stowe Hollow Bridge. It is said that Emily waited for hours and when her lover failed to show up she hung herself from one of the rafters. The logistics of Emily hanging herself from the rafters seems implausible so we move on to legend number two where on her way to meet her lover her horse threw her and she plunged to the rocks below the bridge. (I’m inclined to believe the second legend.) But wait…. there’s a third legend. Emily was a homely girl who became pregnant and when the her father demanded that her boyfriend marry her, her boyfriend hung himself from the bridge. Then Emily, after giving birth to twins, hung herself from a rafter in the bridge. The second legend still makes the most sense.
The legends apparently originated sometime during the 1950s and in 1968 a teenager named Susan wrote a paper in high school recounting the legend. Susan at one time indicated that she and a friend consulted a Ouija board to form a version of the legend that she included in her paper. Another woman indicated she made up the story to keep her children from crossing the bridge but this is undocumented.
Why did it take so long — almost a hundred years — for these stories to surface? Are they true? Who is buried under the gravestone marked “EMILY” in the Stowe cemetery? How does one explain the tales of horses, people and cars being slashed by “invisible claws”? How does one explain the sounds of a woman weeping and who shakes the cars as they drive through the bridge? Why do the locals refuse to pass through the bridge at night? More recently residents say they are awakened by late night ghost hunters who would rather have a beer with Emily than a seance.
As you exit Emily’s bridge you will see a house… a beautiful, big, blue house. Do the occupants of that home know more than they or anyone else is telling? Blue is the color that has long been associated with keeping “haints” (ghosts) away.
And there you have the many legends of the Haunting of Emily’s Bridge. True? False? That’s for you to decide.