XPI lead investigator, Allan Barnes, has an unnerving experience at one of Vermont’s most famous haunted places.
The pitch-black darkness smothered me. The rushing water of Gold Brook ten feet below me echoed against the wooden walls and roof of the Gold Brook Covered Bridge in Stowe, Vermont.
It filled my ears so that I could hear nothing but the vicious rush of water over rock, reverberating off the old wooden walls. But I could feel, and what I felt was the slightest sensation of something just barely brushing against my left arm. Just barely.
I was the only one of my team inside what locals call “Emily’s Bridge”, probably the most famous haunted place in Vermont. I had taken over the “bridge shift” from Claire Heins, who had just wrapped up an EVP session and reported being lightly touched by “something” also.
I was happy that “Emily” hadn’t become violent (yet), since there are many reports of people and vehicles getting attacked when crossing the bridge. It’s extremely rare for a ghost to attack people, but from the reports and photos I’ve seen, this ghost has claws.
My partner, Lourdes Laguna, was stationed in the parking area watching the bridge through four full spectrum cameras hooked up to a single monitor. I was eager to know if she saw what had possibly brushed up against me, or Claire. I’d have to wait, though, as my radio was useless in the cacophony of sound from the brook below.
Paul Nordstom was close by, but stationed underneath the bridge, just at the edge of the water.
Again, I felt a slight sensation of something brushing against the edge of my coat. I spun around and fumbled for my full spectrum camera. The pinkish-purple hue of the LCD screen made my eyes squint in the darkness. I turned around full circle to confirm that I was the only one inside the bridge. I looked at my watch. It was 1:00 AM.
According to legend, Emily was a young woman who died at or on the bridge over 150 years ago. There are two versions of the story. In one, she was supposed to meet her lover by the bridge late one night so they could run away together and elope. When he never showed, she hung herself from the rafters in despair.
In the second version, her lover never showed up on what was supposed to be their wedding day. In a fit of rage and sorrow, she drove her horse and carriage to confront him, but missed the turn at the bridge and crashed, killing both herself and the horses.
For decades, Emily’s ghost has been a fixture on the bridge. Some people have heard the sounds of a young woman screaming at the bridge. Some have reported being touched, or scratched.
Cars, as well as horses and carriages, have reportedly been scratched when crossing the bridge. Photographic anomalies (orbs, blurred spots, faint images of a face or woman’s figure) are frequently reported. Faint flashes of light in various areas of the bridge have also been reported.
Equipment malfunctions are common, too. In fact, the fully-charged battery in my camera was dead within 10 minutes, and the replacement only lasted 20 (it should have lasted well over two hours). I am on my third battery and I’m already getting a low battery indicator!
Claire had complained that her audio recorder kept turning itself off, but only when she was inside the bridge. Our remote full spectrum cameras have occasionally blinked off and then back on all evening.
Is There Any Truth To The Legend Of Emily?
There are no records of a young woman named Emily living in the area at the time that the famous story of Emily’s demise took place.
In fact, the story of Emily made its way into local legend fairly recent, with the first official mention allegedly coming from a 1968 high school paper written by a student who said that he communicated with a spirit who identified herself as “Emily” while he was using a Ouija board on the bridge.
And yet there is tantalizing evidence that there might be something to the story after all. In an old, old graveyard located within Stowe village, there is an unassuming headstone with the words “Little Emeline” inscribed on it. Could that be Emily?
Whether something happened on this bridge 150 years ago, or more recently, there is a mysterious presence at this place that has drawn people from all over to search for Emily’s ghost.
I have to be honest, I didn’t expect anything to happen at Emily’s Bridge.
I expected to write the whole thing off as pure legend with no basis in fact, and the paranormal experiences people have here as nothing more than the result of self-induced, ghost story-inspired fright in an old wooden bridge in the woods, in the dark, with a rushing brook creating all sorts of acoustical anomalies that could be taken for ghostly noises.
But it’s hard to write off clear, distinct sensations of something brushing across the back of your neck. And there’s the question of what keeps draining our batteries. And why do so many of our photographs show mysterious anomalies that are not present when we take photos from outside the bridge?
The bridge is not long at all, yet you feel isolated when you enter it alone in the dark. My sense of isolation quickly turned to anxiety when I heard, through the din of the rushing brook, the sound of something scraping on wood not more than five feet from me. The sound lasted just a quick second, enough to get my heart pounding.
I turned my camera back on. The red “low battery” indicator threatened to leave me in the dark once again, eliminating what little comfort I had in the illumination from the LCD screen (the infrared and UV camera-mounted lights are invisible to my eyes).
I could not see anything in the bridge with me. No faint flashes of light. No moving shadows. No figures. I could barely make out the outline of our vehicle in the parking area beyond the bridge entrance.
Then the scraping sound rushed toward me. I spun around and the LCD screen blinked off in an instant. I frantically pushed on the buttons but the camera would not turn back on. I felt something ever-so-slightly nudge me from behind and I ran out of the bridge, following the faint light that Lourdes had on in our car.
I felt instantly relieved once I left the bridge. Lourdes and Claire bolted out of the car when they saw me.
“Did you see anything?” I asked.
“No,” Lourdes said. “The cameras went down.”
“All four of them?” I asked, incredulously.
“Yes, just now.” Claire chimed in. “She’s not happy that we’re here.”
We fiddled with the cameras for another 20 minutes, and it was clear that we were rapidly running out of batteries. I decided to wrap up our investigation by 2:00 AM. We had hours of footage to process, and hours of audio. I quickly flipped through my photos to see if there was anything major that showed up. There wasn’t anything that I could discern on the three-inch screen on my camera besides the obvious orb anomalies.
Paul loaded the last bag in the vehicle and we drove across the bridge one last time on our way back to our hotel. Less than fifteen minutes later, we were parked outside our rooms.
“You guys have to see this!” Claire exclaimed as she stood behind our vehicle.
I walked around behind the car and at the very top, left-hand edge of the back window was a partial hand print — the top portion of a palm with four fingers pointed straight down.
The hand print looked like it was made by a young woman. And in order to make a hand print on our car like that, she’d have to be crouched on the roof of the vehicle, placing her hand on the top window so that her fingers pointed toward the ground.
Allan Barnes is a lead field investigator for Xpara International, a global paranormal research organization. (This story is fiction.) Read more paranormal investigation field reports.