Great Eddy Covered Bridge
Photography by Hugh H. Henry

  Pine Brook Covered Bridge
Photograph courtesy of the Mad River Valley Planning District

The covered bridges of Vermont are among its most cherished and symbolic historic resources. Two remain in the Village of Waitsfield, the Great Eddy and the Pine Brook. Both reflect the widespread construction of covered bridges on Vermont's public highways from around 1820 to 1904, one of the highlights in Vermont's transportation history. Covered bridges were roofed and enclosed to protect the wooden structural elements from the weather, which in Vermont can be quite harsh. Little more than 100 covered bridges remain in the state, the result of expanding highway systems, intensive commercial development, and physical neglect. Still, Vermont has the greatest concentration of covered bridges in the country, and in the recent past has become dedicated to their preservation. Vermont law now protects all covered bridges and none can be torn down without the permission of the Governor and the Board of Historic Sites.

The Great Eddy Bridge, built in 1833, is a major historical and visual landmark of the Waitsfield Historic District. The oldest operating covered bridge in the State, the Great Eddy is also distinguished as the covered bridge with the longest clear span of any Burr truss bridge in Vermont. The Great Eddy is only surpassed in age by the Pulp Mill Covered Bridge in Middlebury. Burr truss construction was used on both these early bridges, although the Pulp Mill required reinforcements. The basic structure of the Great Eddy remains intact, but much of the flooring and braces were replaced in the 1970s. A pedestrian walkway, part of the original design that had been removed, was also rebuilt at that time. The bridge continues to provide a vital function in transporting citizens and visitors to Waitsfield over the Mad River.

The Pine Brook, the only other covered bridge to stand in Waitsfield, remains structurally unaltered and fully operational. Built in 1855, the strength and endurance of this bridge's original design are remarkable, as many other covered bridges throughout the State require reinforcing devices. Half the size of the Great Eddy, the Pine Brook is representative of the more abundant small and simply executed bridges built across Vermont's numerous smaller rivers and streams.

Both the Great Eddy and Pine Brook Covered Bridges are on public highways and accessible to the public. The Great Eddy is located on Bridge St. where it crosses the Mad River. The Pine Brook bridge is 1.2 miles north of Waitsfield Common where Town Rd. 3 crosses Pine Brook.

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