A Covered Bridge in Jeffersonville with an Elusive Past
August 27, 2015
The Grist Mill Covered Bridge in Jeffersonville is a stone’s throw from Route 108 near Smugglers’ Notch. Extending 85 feet across the Brewster River, the bridge seems to have an elusive past. No one seems to know exactly when the bridge was built, or even its official name.
It’s not unusual for Vermont covered bridges to have multiple names attached to them. You might come across some covered bridges called by two or three different names. In Jeffersonville, depending on whom you talk to, you’ll hear four different names rattled off for the Grist Mill Bridge. It’s also known as the Bryant Bridge, Canyon Bridge, and Scott Bridge.
It’s called the Grist Mill because it’s located just past the old grist mill building on Route 108. Others call it the Bryant Bridge because someone named Bryant lives nearby. The Canyon reference is because the bridge is located on Canyon Road. And it’s also known as the Scott Bridge because that might be the name of the person who built the bridge way back when.
As for when the bridge was built, no one knows for sure. I found a few online references that listed the bridge’s construction in 1872, but local historian Roberta Marsh says she can’t pinpoint an exact year. For a covered bridge located near such a well-traveled route, why aren’t more facts known about the structure? The more Roberta and I talked, the more curious we became over the lack of information.
Covered Bridges in Cambridge
Jeffersonville is a village within the town of Cambridge, located north of Stowe in Lamoille County. Before the Flood of 1927, Cambridge was home to 13 covered bridges. Now there are three.
Some of the old bridges washed away in the historic 1927 flood, some fell into disrepair and were taken down, and others were moved, including the two-lane covered bridge built in 1845 that once crossed the Lamoille River in Cambridge. It was dismantled and relocated to the Shelburne Museum in 1949.
Even though most of the covered bridges in Cambridge are long gone, Marsh sees a bright spot. In Cambridge and the neighboring towns of Waterville and Belvidere stand eight covered bridges – all within about 12 miles.
“I think it’s unusual to have that number of covered bridges within such a short distance,” she says. In some parts of the state, such as Tunbridge, Montgomery, and Lyndonville, you’ll find clusters of covered bridges. But having eight so close together is impressive.
If you can’t make it to see the Cambridge-Belvidere-Waterville bridges, stop by the Shelburne Museum and see the covered bridge from Cambridge that was moved 66 years ago.
Marsh says if you look closely, you’ll see a watermark on the bridge from the Flood of 1927. That’s a covered bridge fact worth knowing.