Back to Irasburg's New Bridge
Irasburg's Covered Bridge Lost to Arson*
Saturday night, November 1, 1997, Vermonters lost an irreplaceable treasure; vandals
destroyed the state's last working Paddleford truss covered bridge.
The Black River Bridge, built in 1881, served Coventry Road
just south of Coventry Village. Also known as the Coventry Bridge or Lower Bridge, it spanned
the Black River at a bend near a swampy shore, crossing the Irasburg town line.
The eighty-six-foot span was one of three Paddleford truss
bridges surviving in Vermont and the only one supporting regular daily traffic. This bridge and the
Lord's Creek Bridge off Dump Road (now Covered Bridge Road) north of the Village of Irasburg
are believed to have been built by John D. Colton of Irasburg. A third Paddleford structure, the
Sanborn Bridge, built in 1869 by unknown craftsmen, is located in Lyndonville.
The Black River Bridge stood high on original stone
abutments later cased and capped in concrete. The interior was well lighted with full-length
venting. The town periodically renewed the nicely rounded and scrolled portals, but to little avail;
trucks passing through quickly demolished the work.
When the Vermont Agency of Transportation inspected all of
the state's covered bridges in the early 1990's the inspectors recommended that the bridge be
closed to all trucks, bypassed, or rehabilitated to take all traffic. The cost was estimated then to be
between $34,000 and $340,000 depending upon which option was selected. The town's portion of
the cost of a new concrete bridge would have been approximately $30,000 with the state funding
The Lord's Creek Bridge, also built in 1881, spanned Lord's Creek until it was replaced in the
late 1950s. The old bridge was acquired by the LaBonds and moved to the family farm where it
crosses the Black River. Still known as the Lord's Creek Bridge, it provides access to the farmer's
fields. Unfortunately, the forty-eight-foot bridge is in very poor condition. The siding and gable
end sheathing is stripped off, and some of the bracing on the south side is pulled loose. In this
open-sided condition, the structure is ideal for studying the mechanics of Peter Paddleford's
*As published by The Mountain Villager, 11/3/97, by Joe Nelson, MV Correspondent.
Lyndonville's Sanborn Bridge now spans the West Branch of
the Passumpsic River a few yards west of Route 5 near the junction of Route 114, moved there in
1960 by covered bridge restorer Milton Graton. Owned by the motel beside it and no longer
serving as a highway bridge, it has housed a series of businesses.
The Town of Irasburg has posted a $2000 reward for
information leading to the apprehension of the vandals. When the selectmen called a meeting to
discuss replacing the Orne, the towns people overwhelmingly asked for a new covered
6/27/98 - The Burlington Free Press
"Pair arrested in bridge arson; prank felled Irasburg Landmark" Two 21- year-olds, Adam
Brunelle of Brownington and Samuel Willson of Barton, have been charged with second-degree
arson in the Halloween night blaze that destroyed the Irasburg Covered Bridge.
3/11/99 - The Burlington Free Press
St.Johnsbury - Adam Brunelle, 21, of Browington, and Samuel Willson, 21, of Barton,
were convicted of burning the Irasburg covered bridge on Halloween night, 1997, and were
sentenced January 26 in Vermont District Court to pay $23,000, Irasburg's share of the $434,000
cost of rebuilding the bridge. The state will pay the rest. The two men were also sentenced to
probation and 60 days of community work in Irasburg. They have been ordered to meet with
Irasburg residents and write apologies to newspapers.
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Joe Nelson, P.O Box 267, Jericho, VT 05465-0267,email@example.com
Text this page Copyright © 1999, Joseph C. Nelson
Drawing this page Copyright ©, 1999, Joseph C. Nelson
Photographs this page Copyright ©, 1999, Joseph C. Nelson
This file revised April 9, 2000 (10:21AM)