Traveling from Stoddard, New Hampshire to Jay Peak, Vermont, we took the long way so we could cross the Cornish-Windsor covered bridge. This bridge links Cornish, New Hampshire to Windsor, Vermont across the Connecticut River and is the longest wooden covered bridge of its era still standing. The bridge is 449 feet long and was built in 1886. It’s the third longest covered bridge in the world. The Hartland Covered Bridge in New Brunswick, Canada is the longest, more than twice its length at 1,282 feet. The longest one in the USA is the Smolen-Gulf Bridge at 613 feet crossing the Ashtabula River in Ohio.
Cornish-Windsor is the fourth bridge on the site with the first 3 destroyed by floods. The first bridge on the site was built in 1796. The current bridge had some flood damage in 1977, which was repaired. The bridge closed for deterioration in 1987, but was restored and re-opened in 1989. There is space to park alongside the road for bridge tourists on the New Hampshire side. The Vermont side has no parking signs.
Our route brought us along small country roads – one of them gravel – and through small towns. Throughout New Hampshire a lot of the towns had what looked to be an old church marked as the town hall, but once we got into Vermont the old churches mostly appeared to be still functioning as churches. Some of the towns were so small there wasn’t much other than the church there, but others were actually functioning towns. Gas stations and grocery stores are scarce or non-existent in a lot of them. Though we were there in October before heading to Vermont we’d seen more green trees than fall color. There were patches along the way where it was just the opposite with bright reds, vivid yellows, and even some orange leaves outnumbering the green.
When we got to the bridge we were happy to see the area where people can pull over and park. It was quite the tourist attraction with cars bearing license plates from assorted states coming and going in the small roadside parking area, and people taking photos of the bridge. It’s just wide enough for one car going each way, but the traffic was not constant so there was frequently time between cars to get a better look. One couple came wandering out of the bridge on foot saying the view was fantastic through the little windows on the sides of the bridge, so of course we had to check it out. They were right about that, and there is room to get out of the way should a car come through.
The front of the bridge had a sign saying there was a fine for not walking your horse across, but there were no horses to be seen and as cars came fairly often and fairly fast it wouldn’t really be safe to take a horse across at any speed. In between cars people took photos from the road, ever watchful as you might have to move quickly out of the way at any second. From the far side of the guardrail people could take photos in relative safety from either side of the bridge. We did not ever see two cars come from opposite sides at the same time, but if they did one would have to wait as they could not pass by each other inside of the bridge. Across the street there was a small building with a giant saw blade out front.
Once we finished taking our photos we drove across the bridge. We were glad that the New Hampshire side had that little parking area since the Vermont side not only had nowhere to park near the bridge, but also signs saying there was a fine for doing so. Foliage in Vermont was mostly the same as it had been in both New Hampshire and Massachusetts, which is to say more green than color in most places, but here and there patches with more color.
When we passed by a house with a Halloween display that had a life-sized skeleton driver in a buggy with a skeleton horse John had to stop and take a photo. Perhaps that driver tried to cross the bridge by horse and buggy amidst the car traffic!