Chimney Point, Vermont
Along with the Crown Point peninsula across the narrows, the area played a significant role in the struggle between Great Britain and France for control of North America. Chimney Point was occupied by both the American and British armies during the American Revolutionary War.
Beginning in 1785, regular ferry service crossed the lake to and from Chimney Point. In 1929, the first Lake Champlain Bridge opened. Following the discovery of deterioration in the piers in 2009, that bridge was demolished and replaced by a new bridge, which opened in 2011.
Chimney Point is a Vermont State Historic Site, preserving a 1785 tavern and presenting the story of three cultures, Native American, French Colonial, and early-American.
The Chimney Point peninsula is bounded by Lake Champlain and Hospital Creek. At its narrowest, Lake Champlain is about .3 miles (0.48 km) across at Chimney Point. The Lake Champlain Bridge is one of only two bridges across the lake in its length of 125 miles (201 km).
The spot is a favorite with anglers. A boat launch at Chimney Point allows access to the lake.
Archeologists have found evidence of human habitation in the Chimney Point area for as long as 7,500 years. Native Americans camped, hunted, and fished at Chimney Point. Their tools show they adapted to a warming climate and moved with the seasons to hunt, fish, and gather food. They made spear throwers and stone spear points for hunting animals, and stone tools for cutting, scraping, and working wood and other stone.
In 1690, the British governor of New York sent Captain Jacobus de Warm from Albany with orders to watch the French and Indians from Canada on Lake Champlain and to “endeavor to despoil, plunder and do them all injury as enemies, according to the usages of war.” De Warm built a small stone defense at Chimney Point that he, 12 soldiers, and 20 Mohawks occupied for about a month.
In 1731, the French occupied the area, first building a stockade fort on the bluff at Pointe-à-la-Chevelure, today’s Chimney Point. Then in 1734 or 1735 construction began on stone Fort St. Frédéric on the west side of the lake. At first both sides were considered part of a single royal domaine with Louis XV as seigneur.
In 1743, Gilles Hocquart, Intendant of New France, was granted a seigneurie of approximately 115,000 acres (47,000 ha) on the east shore of the lake, much of today’s Addison County, Vermont. French settlement on Lake Champlain was both military and agricultural with farms on both sides of the lake. The population of settlers at Pointe-à-la-Chevelure peaked at the beginning of the French and Indian War (1754–1763) at approximately 150 with 21 houses on the east side of the lake and 19 on the west.
French and Indian War
The French settlement at Pointe-à-la-Chevelure was close to major fighting in the French and Indian War, which took place at the southern end of Lake George (Lac du Saint-Sacrement) and at Fort Ticonderoga (Carillon).
When Major Robert Rogers, commander of the provincial ranger forces, scouted Fort St. Frédéric in early May of 1756, he found settlements on the west side of the lake largely abandoned and was able to observe the fort from across the lake. The party slaughtered 23 head of cattle before returning to Fort William Henry on Lake George.
In the summer of 1759, as British Major General Jeffrey Amherst and his army of 12,000 men seized Ticonderoga, the French retreated north to Canada, blowing up Fort St. Frédéric and burning houses on both sides of the lake. A remaining chimney on the east shore gave the area its new English name, Chimney Point.
On the west side of the lake, the British built massive Fort Crown Point with forty-foot-high walls and a six-acre parade ground, but it was destroyed by fire in 1773. When a British engineer inspected the fort in 1774, he found it to be “an amazing useless mass of Earth only.”
In the mid-1780s, the main, two-story section of the Chimney Point tavern was likely constructed. In 1791, Thomas Jefferson and James Madison visited Chimney Point, and the tavern. In the late 19th century, the tavern was added on to and attracted visitors as a summer resort.
In 1966, the State of Vermont bought the Chimney Point property to protect it from private development. In 1971, it was listed in the National Register of Historic Places for its long and significant history. The state restored the building, and in 1991 reopened the historic tavern and summer resort building as a museum. Chimney Point is one of the oldest taverns in Vermont. It has one of the most intact early tap rooms, as well as an operating rural post office.
Chimney Point State Historic Park
The park had 2,962 visitors in 2009 during the 99 days it was open during the summer months.
From June 14 to October 11, 2:00-4:00 PM., the park hosts Sunday Afternoon Specials. These events include playing period games and hands-on activities, such as making ancient stone tools or throwing an atlatl, a prehistoric spear launcher used for hunting game.
The park hosts the annual Northeast Open Atlatl Championship. On the Friday before the Championship, a workshop is open to teach modern and traditional Native American techniques of atlatl and dart construction, flint knapping, hafting stone points, and cordage making.
- Vermont Division for Historic Preservation (2009). Lake Champlain Voyages of Discovery: Bringing History Home. State of Vermont.
- Lake Champlain Maritime Museum (2012). Spanning the Decades: The Lake Champlain Bridge Story. New York State Department of Transportation.
- Spanning the Decades: The Lake Champlain Bridge Story. pp. 49–59.
- "Chimney Point". Historic Sites State of Vermont: Chimney Point. State of Vermont. Retrieved July 29, 2014.
- Spanning the Decades. pp. 4–5.
- Lake Champlain Voyages of Discovery. pp. 8–10.
- Fischer, David Hackett (2008). Champlain's Dream. New York: Simon & Schuster. pp. 263–267.
- Lake Champlain Voyages of Discovery. p. 25.
- Lake Champlain Voyages of Discovery. pp. 26–28.
- "Lake Champlain Voyages of Discovery".
- Rogers, Robert (1765). Journals of Major Robert Rogers. London. pp. 16–17.
- Lake Champlain Voyages of Discovery. p. 38.
- Titus, Timothy DE. (1994). An Illustrated History of Crown Point. New York Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation. pp. 17–27.
- Chimney Point State Historic Site, State Historic Sites, Vermont
- "Vt. historic site closes for lake bridge work". Burlington, Vermont: Burlington Free Press. 15 June 2010. pp. 8B.
- Chimney Point State Historic Site - Atlatl Championship, http://www.historicsites.vermont.gov/chimneypoint/atlatl/index.htm
- Chimney Point State Historic Site
- The Crown Point Road Association
- End of the French Regime
- The Lake Champlain and Lake George Historical Site