The possession of Emily’s Bridge

I cannot conceivably understand why in the world everyone is obsessed with covered freakin’ bridges.

Yeah, you Vermonters got a lot of ‘em — cool. Whatever.

When I first came to Vermont as a freshman at Castleton, and even when I was touring, my mom would make us stop at EVERY SINGLE ONE. There are so many pictures of those things that are lost to the endless stream that is her photo library.

Most of them are just regular bridges with a little extra plywood.

So. What.

But I’ll give it to you guys that there is one covered bridge that I’ve been dying to check out. 

It’s a ghost bridge. That at least has some intrigue to it.

More specifically, it’s the Gold Brook Bridge in Stowe — also known to the paranormally inclined as Emily’s Bridge.

Admittedly, the legend of Emily is one that’s a little hard to nail down even though it’s often considered one of Vermont’s most famous myths. Built in 1844, the first telling of Emily at this bridge is said to date anywhere between the 1930s and early 1970s — and the origin of Emily herself is set even wider. Some claim she lived sometime in the 1800s; others say it was even as late as the early 1900s.

But despite the abstract timeline, many are convinced Emily is undoubtedly real.

And a woman scorned at that.

Legend has it that Emily was a young woman whose parents forbid her relationship with the man of her dreams. In an act of rebellion, the two lovers promised to meet each other at the covered bridge and run away together with plans to elope.

But Emily’s sweetie never showed.

Distressed and convinced life without her love wasn’t worth living, Emily hanged herself from the rafters.

But no, that wasn’t really the end of Emily.

Today, Emily’s Bridge is quite the paranormal hotspot for those who visit. Everything from lights to apparitions to neck pain and even long bodily scratches have appeared to those who’ve dared to cross Emily and her bridge. Between midnight and 3 a.m. are said to be the most active times.

Renown ghost-investigators and even the Travel Channel have featured the location in videos, podcasts, articles — you name it. Plastered on the outside of the bridge is a sign retelling the experience of one “Dr. Dave,” who claimed to have experienced a feeling of dissociation and neck tightness that convinced him he had felt what Emily had on that fateful night.

The thing is, these assertions seem to lose their luster when you find out that there is absolutely no historical evidence to prove Emily ever existed. One woman even claims she invented the tale as a youngster when trying to impress her friends while swimming nearby in the 1970s.

The 1970s produced a huge surge in occult interests among those who paid attention to popular culture. “The Omen,” “Dawn of the Dead” and “The Exorcist” were all released to wide acclaim during the decade, and people were undeniably feeling a little bit spookier than before.

Vermont historians and even popular Vermont folklorist, Joe Citro, have chalked the legend up to just that — an old wives’ tale.

Now to me, this case is pretty much closed. Yes, there are those who will fight tooth and nail to prove their experiences were real, but many have spent night after night at the bridge without incident.

And personally, I’m a little more inclined to believe those who aren’t in it for the YouTube views.

Either way, I’d still like to take a visit and see if Emily’s claws care to take a snatch at my skin. But I’ll tell ya this — my boyfriend is staying home. Hands off, Emily.

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