The Black River Bridge, built in 1881, serves Coventry Road where the road follows the stream. Also known as the Coventry Bridge or Lower Bridge, it spans the Black River at a bend near a swampy shore, just over the Irasburg town line. Beaver work only a few feet from passers-by. In the springtime, ducks land in the wet fields off to the north.
The eighty-six-foot bridge is clean and well kept. It is one of three Paddleford truss spans surviving in Vermont and is the only one supporting regular daily traffic. This bridge and the Lord's Creek Bridge near the Village of Irasburg were built by John D. Colton of Irasburg. A third Paddleford structure, built in 1869 by unknown craftsmen, is located in Lyndonville.
The bridge stands high on original stone abutments now cased and capped in concrete. The interior is well lighted with full-length venting. The siding on the south side stops short twenty-two inches from the eaves, while the siding on the north side leaves an open port eight feet high the length of the truss. The deck is not reinforced, and the floor system remains as the builder designed it. The town periodically renews the nicely rounded and scrolled portals, but to little avail trucks passing through quickly demolish the work. The Agency of Transportation recommends that the bridge be closed to all trucks, bypassed, or rehabilitated to take all traffic.
To find the Black River Bridge, leave Route 14/Route 5 on the west-bound local road just south of where the two highways separate. Follow the local road southward to a large white frame church fronted by a civil war monument. Drive to the right of the church and you will come to the bridge. Cross the bridge and continue on, taking the right- hand forks as you come to them. You will come around to the white frame church again by way of Heermansmith Farm Road.
To go on to Irasburg and the Lords Creek Bridge, leave Coventry on Route 14 south 4.2 miles to Route 58. Turn left on Route 58 and drive 1.6 miles through Irasburg to Old Dump Road. Drive north 0.6 miles to the bridge.
Tour 6 - An Historical Note
The Town of Irasburg was granted to Ira Allen by the Vermont General Assembly in February, 1781. This Ira Allen was the son of Ira Allen, famous land speculator, and the nephew of Ethan. A certain number of proprietors were needed to form a new township--probably sixty-two men in all. According to historian E. P. Colon, when the Allens wanted a new township granted, they collected a few genuine names towards the required number, then created the rest by inventing people from distant places. The Allens paid the state the first grantee dues and afterward "bought up" the claims of the fictional people.
Ira Allen resided in Irasburg from 1814 until his death in 1866.