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Travel New England - Quechee Gorge - Vermont's Little Grand Canyon

A popular stop along US 4 in Central Vermont, both the Quechee Gorge and Bridge have a fascinating history of their own.  The bridge - a 285 foot long steel arch structure that carries US 4 over the Ottauquechee River - was first built for rail cars.  Constructed in 1911, the Quechee Gorge Bridge had originally carried the tracks of the Woodstock Railroad 163 feet over the gorge.  The bridge, designed by John W. Storrs and built by the American Bridge Company of New York, replaced a wood truss structure that had crossed the gorge since 1875. 
 
With the demise of passenger railroad in the region, the bridge was retrofitted and converted to automobile use in 1933.  Since then, the Quechee Gorge Bridge has carried US 4 over the scenic landscape below.   Today, the bridge is the oldest remaining steel arch bridge within the state of Vermont.  Over the years, the bridge and gorge, known as "Vermont's Little Grand Canyon," has become a very popular sightseeing spot along Route 4.  Hiking trails run north and south along the gorge.  One trail heads to the bottom of the gorge providing spectacular views of the bridge high above the Ottauquechee.  Others opt to take in dizzying views of the land below from both sides of the bridge. 

The bridge is surrounded by Quechee State Park.  The park, which opened in 1965, features camping, hiking and fishing as some of its top activities.  Quechee State Park is open from mid-May through Mid-October.

The Quechee Gorge is 165 feet deep and is Vermont's deepest gorge.  It is estimated to have formed as a result of glacial activity around 13,000 years ago.



Sadly, over the last decade the bridge has been the site of numerous suicide attempts.  From 2007 through the Summer of 2018 - 14 suicides occurred at the bridge.  In the first half of 2018, four were committed.   In 2018, the Vermont Agency of Transportation installed a temporary nine foot chain-link barrier to deter any additional attempts.  This is in addition to numerous other steps Vermont has taken to curb suicides at the bridge since 2016.  A final solution that would include either a barrier wall or net below the bridge is planned to be in place by 2022. (1)




All photos taken by post author May 2005 and August 2006.

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