Chimney Point, Vermont
Chimney Point is an unincorporated community in the town of Addison in Addison County, Vermont, United States. It lies across Lake Champlain from Crown Point, New York. French settlers established the community of Hocquart near here in 1730. This first European settlement in Vermont grew to a considerable size before its inhabitants were driven out by English colonists. The community has been designated as the Chimney Point State Historic Site.
In 1749 Chimney Point was visited by Pehr Kalm, a noted Swedish-Finnish naturalist, who wrote:
- "I found quite a settlement, a stone wind-mill and fort in one, with five or six small cannon mounted; the whole enclosed by embankments. Within the enclosure was a neat church, and through the settlement well cultivated gardens, with some good fruit, as apples, plums, currants, etc...these settlements were extended north on the lake some four miles; the remains of old cellars and gardens still to be seen show a more thickly settled street than occupies it now."
Chimney Point on Lake Champlain in Vermont is one of the earliest, mostly intensely settled, and most strategic sites in the Champlain Valley. Archeological research has revealed evidence of human habitation going back as far as 7,500 years. At Chimney Point State Historic Park, exhibits and special events present the story of the three early cultures in the Chimney Point area — prehistoric and historic Native American, French colonial, and early American after the Revolutionary War.
Beginning nearly 7,500 years ago, Native Americans regularly camped, hunted, and fished in the Chimney Point area. During what is called the Archaic period (7,000 - 1,000 B.C.), temperatures rose after the glaciers melted and caused the vegetation and types of animals to change significantly. Tools left behind by the first inhabitants show they adapted to the changing 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 1609, Frenchman Samuel de Champlain became the first known European to explore this region and the lake that was later named for him; he traveled at least as far south as the Chimney Point area. French colonists began to settle in what became Canada. In 1690, the British governor of New York sent Captain Jacobus de Warm from Albany to watch the French on Lake Champlain. At what would later be called Chimney Point, de Warm built a small stone defense that he, 12 English, and 20 Mohawk occupied for about a month.
During the early 1700s, the French and English, with associated Native American allies, competed across northern New England and New York. They were also struggling to control the lucrative fur trade with Native American nations. It was a period of extensive raiding across the loosely defined borders, and both sides took captives to be ransomed, for instance, during Queen Anne's War. Allied with the French were the Mohawk of the Iroquois and the Abenaki. The English had shifting alliances with southern tribes of Pequot and Lenape.
In 1731, the French decided to firmly establish their presence on Lake Champlain and block the lake route from the British colonies to Canada by building a fort at the strategic narrows between Chimney Point and Crown Point, New York. The French called this area Pointe à la Chevelure or Crown Point. (Crown referring to the top of a person's head rather than to the monarchy). Their Fort St. Frédéric was a wooden stockade of posts, a fort de pieux, on top of the bluff at Chimney Point. About 100 feet (30 m) by 100 feet (30 m) in size, it had chambers for the commandant, chaplain, and the guard, and a kitchen, bakery, and storehouse. Twenty soldiers garrisoned it the first winter, and it could hold up to thirty men. This was the first permanent French settlement in the Champlain valley.
The struggle between France and Britain for control in the New World intensified during the French and Indian War (1754-1763), the North American front of the Seven Years War in Europe. In the summer of 1759, as British Major General Jeffrey Amherst and his army closed in, the French retreated northward to Canada, blowing up Fort St. Frédéric and burning their houses. All that remained of the houses were the chimneys; the English named it Chimney Point.
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.
Chimney Point is located at geographical coordinates 44° 2′ 10″ North, 73° 25′ 5″ West (44.035980, -73.418159).
- Chimney Point State Historic Site, State Historic Sites, Vermont
- John Demos, The Unredeemed Captive: A Family Story from Early America, New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1994
- "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