Covered Bridge Museum
Interested in touring Bennington's Covered Bridges?
We've put together a self guided audio tour for you, complete with a collectors' map, detailed directions, history and guided exploration of each bridge, trivia, collection of postcards, bookmark, and a sticker to support the maintenance of the covered bridges.
For more information call 802-442-7158
Discover the history and legends of covered bridges in the world's first museum dedicated to their preservation. Explore the exhibits on engineering, construction, tools, and creators. Build and test your own bridge designs on the computer work station after viewing a video on the past and present construction techniques and uses of covered bridges. A display shows a railroad with six Vermont railroad bridges while the museum's resource center and illuminated map can help you plan your own tour of Vermont's remaining covered bridges, five of which are nearby. Finally, marvel at the fine art paintings of bridges done by Eric Sloane and his analysis of them before browsing in the museum shop.
You may pass through all five Covered Bridges in Bennington County in a standard sized automobile - one lane only.
Bridges were covered to keep the wood dry and thereby avoid rot. This became the trend in 1805 when a bridge designed by Timothy Palmer, an architect proved most durable.
Most covered bridges are painted red because iron ochre was an inexpensive pigment. Here is an early recipe for bridge paint: 2 qts skim milk, buttermilk or whey; 8oz newly slaked lime, 6oz oil from ground flaxseed, 2oz turpentine; 1.5lbs pulverized ochre.
The most common type of covered bridge is Town Lattice. All of the covered bridges in Bennington County fall under this catagory.
Five Bridges in Bennington County
1.) Silk Road Bridge - This bridge spans the Wallomsac River and was built in 1840 probably by Benjamin Sears. The original name for this bridge was the Locust Grove Bridge.
2.) Paper Mill Village Bridge - This bridge also spans the Wallomsac River. It was originally named for a 1790 paper mill that was on of the state's first. This bridge was built by the son of Benjamin Sears. The Paper Mill Village Bridge area provides enough room for tour buses to park and unload passengers offering photo opportunities.
3.) Burt Henry Bridge - The Burt Henry bridge spans the Wallomsac River. This bridge received its name from Elnathan Henry who bought the land from James Breckenridge and constructed the Henry House in 1769. The Henry House operates today and is used as a Bed and Breakfast Inn and is located directly across from the bridge. The original bridge was constructed in 1840, but in 1989 a complete restructuring was done by Blow and Cote Inc.
4.) Chiselville Bridge - The name Chiselville comes from a former chisel factory nearby, but the bridge was previously named High Bridge and The Roaring Branch Bridge. It spans the Roaring Branch Brook and was built by Daniel Oatman in 1870. At the time the cost to build this bridge was $2,307.31 including the builders fee. It survived the flood of 1927, which destroyed hundreds of Vermont covered bridges. It appears that the strategic placement of this bridge allowed the flooded Roaring Branch Brook to pass harmlessly underneath.
5.) West Arlington Bridge - This bridge spans the Battenkill River which is well know by canoeists, kayakers, and fly fisherman. The Battenkill is also famous for some great swimming holes, and inner tube rides along the Battenkill are popular during the summer months. The West Arlington Bridge is one of Vermont's best loved and most photographed covered bridges. The picturesque setting includes views of a local church steeple and the former home of Norman Rockwell.
In 2015 our founder Bruce Laumeister sat down with reporter Cat Viglienzoni of WCAX Channel 3 News to talk about The Covered Bridge Museum and explain some of the myths and history.
These historical structures bring thousands upon thousands of visitors to our state every year. Bennington County boasts 5 of the remaining 103 covered bridges in Vermont. Built with wood, simple hand tools, and great craftsmanship, the covered bridges weren’t just a pretty thing to look at, they were necessary to everyday life. Often they were the largest structures in the town, and were used for everything from town meetings, revivals, and school plays. Our Covered Bridge Museum was opened in 2003 and is dedicated to the history and construction of covered bridges.
Photos of Covered Bridge Museum by Ian Wright Photography