Stowe, VT – Some hauntings are benign, harmless to all who encounter them and enjoy a shiver at their brush with the supernatural. Some are helpful, welcoming even. But there are others, in which the dead sits and waits, anticipation and hope turning first to anger, then to rage and madness.
The longer the wait, the stronger and more desperate the spirit becomes, watching friends and family get on with their lives and pass on, she waits for the very thing that made her take her own life. When rage goes unchecked and unchallenged for so long, those who encounter it are made targets of release, often with emotional, and sometimes physical, scars.
After working in the field of paranormal investigation for many years, there are a few things that every ghost hunter knows. Not every place is really built on top of an “ancient Indian burial ground,” the creepy house down the street may not really be haunted, and every city has a haunted bridge. A quick Google search will bring up hundreds, if not thousands, of the fabled “Cry-Baby Bridge” stories in which a tragic death occurred, dooming the bridge to be haunted for all eternity. Most of them turn out to be hogwash, plain and simple, with no supporting evidence and no documented phenomena. But when everything else points to a horrific haunting, a little thing like no proof doesn’t stand in the way of a good story.
Officially called the “Gold Brook Bridge,” the structure that is more commonly known as Emily’s Bridge was built in, or around, the year 1844 to help the citizens of Stowe get to and from each other. Of course, who built it and when, though interesting facts, is not as important as the role it would play in the life of a young girl. Her name was Emily.
In a story that could be called equal parts cliché, fairy-tale, and tragedy, young Emily fell in love with a young man. Though he was good and decent, he was far below her social class, and her family forbade their affair, going so far as to have the young man dragged from the house while Emily cried. They met in secret from that point on, devising a plan to elope. They were to meet on the Gold Brook Bridge after dark, and the two would leave Stowe and start a new life together.
Anyone who’s read this type of story before knows that somewhere along the way, someone forgot to keep the secret. Emily’s parents found out about their plans and hired a pair of tough-guys to beat the young man into unconsciousness, keeping him from his bride-to-be. Emily waited for him for hours, but when he did not appear, she grew enraged. She pounded the sides of the little bridge until her hands dripped with her own blood and screamed at her own torment. She took the rope she’d used to bundle her things and hanged herself by one of the bridge’s rafters. While there seems to be no proof of any such event, the locals who live near the little bridge swear to its veracity. There is no mention of the name of Emily’s oppressive family, or the name of her unfortunate beau.
Extensive research by Kristy Aucoin of the IGHS actually uncovers three different versions of the story, which seems to have not existed before 1968, when a high-school student wrote a paper on the subject (the source of which she said was an ouija board). And while there is no record of an “Emily,” her lover, or a hanging of any sort that occurred on the bridge, something does have the locals spooked,
Whether or not the story of Emily’s death is true, there’s enough weird things going on at the tiny bridge to make locals swear the story is true, and to leave more than a few people with evidence and injuries. Among published reports, the first sign of the haunting is the sounds of weeping, crying and screaming coming from the bridge when a person is on it. While that alone could be attributed to a number of other causes, it’s far from the only phenomenon. Reports then say that the bridge shakes, as if being thundered upon by Emily’s fists beating on the walls. Several reports say that the shaking is so powerful that it can be felt even inside a locked car.
But shaking cars and screams are the least of people’s problems when they visit Emily’s Bridge. Many have come away bearing long scratches across their backs, and down the sides of their cars. Several paranormal investigative teams have come away with startling audio and scratches on arms, backs, and ruining the paint-jobs on their cars. And while many might write off the phenomena as hysteria or stories that people use to perpetuate the myth, it’s difficult to argue with photographic evidence and long bleeding welts.
Whether or not the entity that haunts the bridge is “Emily,” pretty much everyone that has been to the bridge and has experienced the phenomena agrees that something is haunting the place. No longer in regular use, the bridge is lovingly kept up with by the residents who surround it. Moreover, the bridge is more well known as “Emily’s Bridge” than by its given name. If the photo above proves anything, its that the people of Stowe embrace the little bridge, no matter what might be lurking inside.
While there are innumerable published reports of horrifying events taking place, there are at least as many reports in which nothing happened. By reading the reports, a cursory profile can be gleaned. Reports of activity happen during every month of the year, usually around the reputed time of Emily’s suicide (between midnight and 2 a.m.). However, as one astute witness who’s been visiting the site for years states, “It’s all a waiting game. Sometimes nothing happens at all, other times some major stuff goes down.”
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