Lake Champlain Transportation Company
|Founded||1826; incorporated 1976|
|Headquarters||Burlington, Vermont, USA|
|Key people||Raymond C. Pecor, Chairman; Trey Pecor, President; Henry T. Sorrell, Vice President; Dominique Pecor, Treasurer; Heather Stewart, Operations Manager|
|Products||Ferry service, Sightseeing cruises|
The Lake Champlain Transportation Company (LCTC or just LCT) provides car and passenger ferry service at three points on Lake Champlain in the United States. From 1976 to 2003, it was owned by Burlington, Vermont, businessman Raymond C. Pecor, Jr. who is Chairman of the company's board. In 2003, he sold the company to his son, Raymond Pecor III.
Lake Champlain is the sixth-largest lake in the United States, reaching a maximum width of 12 miles (19 km) and depths of more than 300 feet (91 m). As such, there is no bridging of the "broad lake" north of Crown Point, New York, and south of the Rouses Point-Alburg-Swanton crossing near the Canada border, though bridging of the lake near Plattsburgh has been proposed. The ferry service allows convenient transport across the lake between New York and Vermont. Approximately one million passengers cross the lake by ferry each year.
Service was originally provided at three points, listed from south to north:
- Charlotte, VT to Essex, NY
- Burlington, VT to Port Kent, NY
- Grand Isle, VT to Plattsburgh, NY at Cumberland Head
Most runs employ at least two double-ended diesel ferries, making the crossings in opposite directions. All ferries are capable of carrying large trucks as well as cars, bicycles, and foot passengers and are of a roll-on, roll-off design (although they can operate single-ended in the event of an engine failure). Credit cards are not accepted on some routes. Under the terms of the Maritime Transportation Security Act, vehicles and luggage brought on board some LCT vessels may be subject to search. Most runs are considered quite scenic.
During the summer, the company also provides dinner cruises and charters from Burlington as well as special runs that allow the watching of the Independence Day fireworks display at the Burlington waterfront.
The Charlotte–Essex ferry is run year-round, but may not operate if there is heavy icing on the lake. This became a year-round route in 1998 and has operated year-round all but two winters since.
This route abruptly shut down for six weeks in February 2009 when its ice-breaking vessels were redeployed elsewhere. According to the company website, the plan for the winter of 2010–2011 is for this run to have single ferry service, delivered alternately by the Governor Aiken and the Adirondack. At present, the company has no plans for use of an ice-breaking ferry on the Charlotte-Essex run in the winter of 2010–2011; this is anticipated to result in a winter closure. This route is depended on by many commuters to get to medical appointments, work, and school.
The Burlington–Port Kent ferry crosses the maximum width of the lake and does not operate in the winter. This crossing takes approximately one hour.
Park-and-ride service is available on both ends. Snack/ice cream/gift shop vending available.
The Grand Isle–Plattsburgh ferry is an ice-breaking route and provides 24-hour service year-round. The crossing on this route takes approximately 12 minutes. The company is expected to reconstruct the ferry slip on the New York side of this run and expand it for additional capacity using monies from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009. In 2001, the company spoke out against a proposed plan to build a bridge that would replace this route.
Crown Point–Chimney Point
In addition, a temporary ferry operated by the company, for free at the expense of the states of New York and Vermont at a cost to the states of about $10 per car, temporarily operated from Crown Point, New York, to Chimney Point, Vermont. This 20 minute crossing operated 24-hours per day due to the removal of the Champlain Bridge due to structural problems and the construction of a new span.
The ferries used by the LCTC
Ferries used by the Lake Champlain Transportation Company, including six vessels that can run in ice:
- The Adirondack (the oldest, in-service, double-ended ferryboat of all time, built 1913, named after the Adirondack Mountains)
- The Champlain (built 1930; also doubles as a charter cruise boat for large groups under the brand "Lake Champlain Cruises" )
- The Evans Wadhams Wolcott (built 1988 to run in ice; the "EWW", pronounced "E, double-U, double-U" and named after Lewis P. Evans, Jr., Richard H. Wadhams and James G. Wolcott, the founders of the modern company)
- The Governor George D. Aiken (built 1975; named after the former governor of Vermont and U.S. Senator)
- The Grand Isle (built 1953; was overhauled in the 1995 and extended by 40 feet; this vessel now runs in ice; named after the Vermont town but running on the Charlotte-Essex crossing)
- The Northern Lights (built 2002 to resemble the steamer Ticonderoga; used for public scenic and charter cruises under the brand "Lake Champlain Cruises.")
- The Plattsburgh (built 1984 to run in the ice; named after Plattsburgh, New York)
- The Valcour (built 1947 from WWII surplus; named after Valcour Island, site of a military battle; this vessel was the last ferry to be built on Lake Champlain and was constructed at the historic Shelburne Shipyard)
- The Vermont (built 1992 to run in ice)
- The Cumberland (built 2000 to run in ice; out of service for maintenance as of November 2010; named for Cumberland Head, the specific location of the Plattsburgh ferry slip)
- The Raymond C. Pecor Jr.,(built 2010) named for Raymond Pecor who ran the company from 1976 to 2004, father of Trey Pecor (aka Raymond Pecor III), the company's current president. (Raymond Pecor is also the owner of the Vermont Lake Monsters, a minor league baseball team headquartered in Burlington.)
Under an approximately $600,000 grant from National Clean Diesel Funding Assistance Program, a United States Environmental Protection Agency program partly funded by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, ferries in this fleet are being overhauled to reduce emissions.
The Burlington Bay Horse Ferry shipwreck discovered in 1983 in Lake Champlain is an example of a turntable team boat. "Horse powered ferries like the one sunk in the Bay of Burlington, Vermont, had reached their heyday in the 1830's and 40's. Eventually, in the 1850's, the steam boat took over and the days of horse powered ferries quickly came to an end."
Ice-breaking on Lake Champlain
During the winter, Lake Champlain sometimes ices over, making ferry service on the long Burlington-Port Kent route impractical. The Grand Isle-Cumberland Head route is short enough to maintain an open channel, and the distance to the Rouses Point bridge makes it practical for substantial motor traffic to use the ferry, justifying the difficulty of keeping the ferry service operating. The ferries used on this run are of the ice-breaking type; their hulls and propellers are reinforced to allow the boats to operate through thin or broken ice. By operating continuously, the ferries maintain an open channel throughout the winter ice season.
In the past, the ferries did not operate around the clock, but in winter time, a few runs were made through the night to prevent the ice from freezing solidly. Now, scheduled runs continue throughout the night.
Lake Champlain Transportation is the largest contributor to the Pecor Family Foundation, contributing over $250,000 in the tax years 2006-2008. The foundation makes large contributions to such charities as the American Cancer Society and United Way, and to educational institutions such as the University of Vermont and Champlain College.
- Two Centuries of Tradition, LCT website.
- Corporation Information, Vermont Secretary of State.
- Uncommon Carrier: Trey Pecor had big shoes to fill, and it looks like a perfect fit by Julia Lynam, Business People-Vermont, 2004.
- University of Vermont Honorary Degree Recipients: Raymond C. Pecor Jr.
- Businessweek Executive Profile: Raymond C. Pecor Jr.
- Forbes Profile: Raymond C. Pecor
- New ferry named for Shelburne resident, Shelburne News, Tue, Nov 9th 2010.
- Span gets Schumer’s attention by Joe LoTemplio, Plattsburgh Press Republican, April 10, 2001.
- WHAT'S DOING IN; Lake Champlain by Judith Yarnall, The New York Times, June 2, 2002.
- Lake Champlain Ferries, a review from Frommers, The New York Times.
- Random ferry searches constitutional, 2nd Circuit rules, Allbusiness.com, December 18, 2006. Describes a civil rights suit in which LCT was a defendant.
- WHAT'S DOING AROUND: Lake Champlain, by Marialisa Calta, The New York Times, September 20, 1989.
- The Job That Comes and Goes: In the pilothouse with Lake Champlain's ferry captains by Tom Gresham, Adirondack Life, July/August 2007.
- Residents lobby for Essex Ferry this winter by Lohr McKinstry, Press Republican, November 10, 2010. "The company had an icebreaker ferry at Essex but moved it to the Crown Point–Addison, Vt., run when temporary ferry service began there in January. That ferry is running free, paid for by the states, until a new bridge is built at Crown Point. Because that run had no icebreaker, the Essex Ferry stopped for about two months last winter because of conditions between Essex and Charlotte, Vt."
- Critics say ferry closure would cause "ordeal" in Champlain Valley, by Brian Mann, North Country Public Radio, November 11, 2010.
- Essex Neighbors Fear Ice Will Close Ferry: Commuters Say Ferry Service Needs A Solution, WPTX, October 22, 2010.
- Winter ferry closures worry Essex, N.Y.-Charlotte riders by Matt Sudkoski, Burlington Free Press, October 25, 2010. "Stewart said she can't predict if or for how long the ferry between Charlotte and Essex might close this winter due to ice."
- Commuters fight for year-round ferry, WCAX, November 10, 2010. "Now officials from LCT were invited to attend a public meeting on the issue at the Essex, N.Y., firehouse Wednesday night, but they did not show up. That meeting was standing-room only as elected officials from both sides of the lake listened to the concerns of commuters. As for the state stepping in to help commuters, state transportation officials told WCAX News that they gave the contract to LCT, so it's up to LCT to decide where they place their ferries."
- Essex-Charlotte ferry reopens by Lohr MckInstry, Plattsburgh Press Republican, March 22, 2010.
- Residents urge LCT to keep Essex ferry running by Jim Carroll, Valley News, November 17, 2010.
- Essex on Lake Champlain, by David C. Hislop, Jr., p. 35.
- Finding Renewal in a Waterfront Renaissance, by Marialisa Calta, The New York Times, September 30, 2007.
- Department of Transportation Transportation Secretary Announces $60 Million in Economic Recovery Funds to Build and Improve Ferry Docks and Facilities, "Lake Champlain Transportation Company (LCT Co.) Ferry, Construction of additional ferry slip to provide additional capacity, $2,500,000".
- Pro Publica Highway Stimulus Database: New York, "PLATTSBURGH:LAKE CHAMPLAIN TRANSPORTATION COMPANY FERRY SLIP ON LAKE CHAMPLAIN. PE FOR FERRY SLIP RECONSTRUCTION (SCOPING & 1-6). (Federal ID: 7805281) . . . $500,000"
- Span gets Schumer’s attention by Joe LoTemplio, Plattsburgh Press Republican, April 10, 2001. Opposition to a bridge naturally comes from the Lake Champlain Transportation Co., which operates ferry crossings between New York and Vermont. Company spokesman David Schemerhorn said he believes the ferry boats can more than adequately serve transportation needs across the lake. "I think people probably think a bridge would be free and always there, but building a bridge would be no easy feat,’’ Schemerhorn said. About 807,000 vehicles used the ferry between Cumberland Head and Grand Isle, Vt., last year, an all-time high.
- Bridge is costly, but ferry is more by Nick Reisman, Poststar.com, May 18, 2010.
- Temporary Lake Champlain ferry service begins, Boston.com, February 1, 2010.
- Essex County, NY Board of Supervisors Minutes, February 1, 2010.
- New York State Dept. of Transportation.
- History of the ferries owned by the Lake Champlain Transportation Company 1948 – 2005
- HISTORIC SHIPS TO VISIT - LISTED BY TYPE OF EMPLOYMENT , nps.gov.
- Photo of the Grand Isle running in ice.
- Grand Isle running on ice; photo on LCT website.
- Lake Champlain Dinner Cruises by Maryellen Cicione, Travel Tips, USA Today.
- Lake Champlain Transportation adds ferry by Matt Sudkowski, Burlington Free Press, November 10, 2010.
- LCT takes delivery of new ferry for northern crossing, Vermont Business Magazine, Nov 8 2010.
- Recovery Act: National Clean Diesel Funding Assistance Program, EPA.gov.
- Grants - Award Status: NORTHEAST STATES FOR COORDINATED AIR USE MANAGEMENT INC.... Sub-Award 2241-LCT - LAKE CHAMPLAIN TRANSPORTATION COMPANY, July 11 - September 30, 2010
- "Educator's Newsletter". Lake Champlain Maritime Museum. 2006-08-17. Retrieved 2014-04-17.
- "Shipwrecks of Lake Champlain: Burlington Bay Horse Ferry". Lake Champlain Maritime Museum. Retrieved 2014-04-17.
- Crisman, Kevin James (1998). When horses walked on water: horse-powered ferries in nineteenth-century America. Washington: Smithsonian Institution Press. ISBN 1560988436.
- Viegas, Jennifer (2010-08-24). "When Horses Walked on Water to Transport Humans". Discovery News. Retrieved 2014-04-17.
- Guide Star: Pecor Family Foundation, Burlington, VT, IRS 990 Forms. (registration required)
- Lake Champlain Ferryboats, ISBN 0-9623772-0-1
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