Thursday January 31, 2013

There are more than 100 covered bridges in Vermont, giving the state the highest number of covered bridges per square mile in the United States.

In Bennington County, there are five covered bridges: Silk Bridge, Paper Mill Village Bridge, Henry Bridge, Chiselville Bridge and Arlington Green Bridge. The latter has in the past been known by a number of different names, including Pickerings Bridge, West Arlington Bridge, and The Bridge at the Green.

The Green Bridge, depicted in an autumn scene, is the subject of a new $5.60 commemorative stamp being sold by the U.S. Postal Service. It can be purchased in person at your local post office, through the Postal Service website, www.usps.com/stamps or by calling 800-STAMP24.

On Tuesday, Banner Staff Photographer Peter Crabtree posted a photo of the Arlington Covered Bridge "aka the Green Bridge," taken by, on the Banner’s Facebook page that drew immediate attention.

Jessica Sargood, whose Facebook profile identifies her as "from Arlington," posted, "That’s not the green bridge, the one closest to West Mountain Inn is the green bridge. This is the "covered bridge" and she’s a beauty. We almost lost her in Irene!"

Another Facebook poster whose profile said she hails from Arlington also disputed calling the bridge the Green Bridge: "I don’t know why people who aren’t from there are calling it ‘the Green Bridge,’ but you have many of us locals saying that that description is incorrect.


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The green structure behind the church was called the ‘green,’ the property was called the green, but the bridge has NEVER been called ‘green’," commented Melissa Paustian Squires.

Tyler Resch, noted local historian, former Banner editor and current librarian at the Bennington Museum, said the bridge commonly called the West Arlington Bridge has been called some variation of "Arlington Green Bridge" in print at least three times in local history.

The bridge, one of Vermont’s most photographed and painted covered bridges, is on Arlington’s town green near the former home of painter Norman Rockwell, which is now the Inn on Covered Bridge Green. It spans the Battenkill River.

According to a release from the Postal Service, the bridge was built in 1852 and took the green name from the village green which it overlooks. It’s also close to the Green United Methodist Church, which was built in 1804.

Along those lines, Bennington is also home to the Vermont Covered Bridge Museum, where visitors can learn about how the structures are made, watch a documentary on the topic and view a working covered bridge railroad layout.

According to the website of the Bennington Area Chamber of Commerce, whose website, www.bennington.com, includes a covered bridge driving tour, bridges were originally covered to keep the wood driving surface dry in order to avoid rot.

Like the Arlington Green Bridge, despite the color the name might bring to mind, most covered bridges are painted red "because iron ochre was an inexpensive pigment," per the chamber.

No matter what you call it, the bridge is part of the state’s rich history and is a potential draw for tourists, which translates to a better bottom line for area businesses.

The Postal Service’s new Arlington Green Bridge stamp will serve to draw more attention to these historic treasures in our midst.

~Michelle Karas