Brookfield is a town in Orange County, Vermont, United States. It was created by Vermont charter on August 5, 1781. The population was 1,292 at the 2010 census. Brookfield is best known for its floating bridge which spans Sunset Lake buoyed by pontoons. The bridge, which is the only floating bridge east of the Mississippi River, was originally built in 1820 by Luther Adams and his neighbors. Sunset Lake is also the site of an annual ice harvesting festival. Brookfield boasts that it has Vermont's oldest continually operating library dating back to 1791. In 2006, Brookfield was one of the first American towns to have its citizens pass a resolution endorsing the impeachment of President George W. Bush. As of September 2010, the floating bridge was closed for repairs. Work began in 2014, and was completed May 2015. There was a celebration from May 23 – May 24, 2015, to memorialize the event. Governor Peter Shumlin attended, and cadets from Norwich University provided traffic control.
By Johanna Knapschaefer
OCTOBER 10, 2015
As we drove onto the crossing of the newly reopened Brookfield floating bridge, we expected a sinking sensation, but instead enjoyed a smooth ride deliciously close to the surface of the lake. On that sunny day in June, my partner, Dan, and I slowly passed by anglers casting their lines and teenagers lining up on the wooden railings to cannonball into the glistening water.
The 321-foot-long, single-lane bridge that carries Vermont Route 65 over Sunset Lake in central Vermont is one of only three floating bridges in the nation and the only one east of the Mississippi. It replaces the 37-year-old timber crossing that was closed in 2008 when thin Styrofoam-filled plastic barrel pontoons were leaking and the slimy green bridge was sinking from deterioration. Engineering geeks may be excited to know it is the world’s first fiber-reinforced composite floating bridge with timber deck and railings that conceal five double-pontoon rafts connected as one monolithic beam-like structure under the length of the bridge.
The modern bridge is the eighth version of the original floating log bridge built in 1820 after a resident fell through thin ice and drowned crossing the lake. The bridge has evolved in design from logs to wooden barrels, and later plastic barrel-pontoons, but has remained a focal point for the community. Despite improvements that have more than tripled the life expectancy of the bridge, some locals still complain they miss the fun of splashing through water on the sodden deck of the previous bridge.
The main street (aka Stone Road) of Pond Village is NOT paved. It is still gravel and the residents prefer it that way. Vermont State Highway (Route) 65 travels through part of the main street, across the floating bridge, over Interstate 89 and goes West to State Highway 12. State Highway 12 is paved. State Highway 65 is paved from State Highway 14 up to the edge of the main street and then becomes gravel for the rest of its distance to State Highway 12. We like the main street to be gravel because it fits the character of Pond Village, encourages motorists to observe the 25 MPH speed limit and makes it safer for pedestrians and bicyclists to traverse the main street.