The town of Tunbridge is best known for the annual Tunbridge World’s Fair, a Vermont tradition that dates back to 1867. For four days in September, 20,000 people flock to this community of 1,300 for one of the most popular fairs in the state. (Here’s a fun fact I came across in the Vermont Explorer’s Guide: the fair was once known as the “Drunkards Reunion” when it was claimed that anyone found sober after 3 p.m. was expelled as a nuisance.)
Now a family event, the fair isn’t quite the raucous gathering it used to be, and it also isn’t the only reason to visit Tunbridge.
The town is home to five covered bridges that cross the First Branch of the White River in Orange County. The bridges, all of which are listed on the National Register of Historic Places, are relatively close together and located just off Route 110.
Growing up in Vermont, I used to take covered bridges for granted and feel a bit cynical about their appeal.
But as with most things, I’ve come to appreciate them with age. Vermont is home to more than 100 covered bridges and has the greatest concentration of covered bridges in the country.
I find the Tunbridge covered bridges to be among the most beautiful in the state. Maybe it’s the gentle, rolling hills of the White River Valley or Tunbridge’s classic village setting that draw me in. All I know is that I visited Tunbridge nearly a week ago, and I’m still thinking about my trip and the town’s lovely historic structures.
A Scenic Route to Explore the Tunbridge Covered Bridges
Any drive to Tunbridge is scenic, but here’s one I recommend: Take Exit 4 off Interstate 89 in Randolph and follow Route 66 east to Route 14 south. Take a left on scenic Chelsea Mountain Road in East Randolph and travel for about 7 miles to Route 110 south to Tunbridge. (Route 110 will eventually connect you back to Route 14 and Interstate 89).
Once you are on Route 110, you won’t have to look very far to find Tunbridge’s covered bridges – the Flint Bridge (1845), Larkin Bridge (1902), Mill Bridge (1883; replaced in 2000), Cilley Bridge (1883), and Howe Bridge (1872).
When fair season is over, make a plan to go back to Tunbridge. The covered bridges are so worth a return trip.