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Lake Horicon & Lake Champlain, Part II

Lake Horicon and Lake Champlain was originally published in 1858 and written as a travelogue.  Quaint in its writing it does provide the reader of today with an insight to the state of development and commerce of those communities along its shores; and,  how this water base transit systems provided the means to deliver their economic products through this north-south “corridor of commerce” during the mid-nineteenth century between the great cities of Canada and New York.

As a Holiday Season special gift from us to our readers we are offering from our “Olde Post Office Book & Gift Shop” another book published in 1858 – “Home Sketches of Essex County – Ticonderoga” written by Flavius (Joseph) Cook.  An in depth review of our town’s earliest history to 1857.   Mentioned that you read this on the Ticonderoga Historical Society’s web page or our “Facebook” page and get it for the discounted price of $10.*

*No other discount apply

Burlington – Mr. Charles Lanman, in his Sketches of Adventure, says:  “Of all the towns I have seen, Burlington, in Vermont, its decidedly one of the most beautiful.  It stands on the shore of Lake Champlain, and from the water to its eastern extremity is a regular elevation which rises to the height of some three hundred feet.”  It is the most important town on Lake Champlain; is a port of entry, and by recent arrangements between our government and Great Britain, is made one of the two ports (Plattsburgh being the other,) on Lake Champlain, at which merchandise sent from England through the United States into Canada, is entered for inspection and exportation.  The principal streets running east and west are one mile in length and these are crossed nearly at right angles by others running north and south, cutting the whole village into regular squares.  The village contains about 7000 inhabitants, and is steadily advancing in wealth and population.  It is the seat of the University of Vermont, which is a flourishing institution, having a large and increasing Medical College occupying a separate building connected with it, a well selected library of about 8000 volumes, a good chemical and philosophical apparatus, and a respectable cabinet of natural history.  Besides the university buildings, the village contains eight Churches; a large Town Hall, which cost $30,000; a Custom House; a Public High School; a Female Seminary; four Banks; four Printing Offices – two daily and three weekly newspapers; seven Hotels and Taverns; about sixty Stores – four of which are Book-Stores.  There are three lines of Railroads, by each of which trains arrive and depart twice or more, daily, excepting Sundays.  During the continuance of navigation, there are regular lines of steamboats to Whitehall and Rouse’s Point, a Steam Ferry to Port Kent and Plattsburgh, besides numerous arrivals and departures of irregular boats, sloops, &c.  There are four extensive wharves with storehouses, and two extensive freight depots on the lake shore, with passenger depots near the lake, and one near the center of the village.  A Breakwater has been built in front of the wharves, for the protection of shipping.  Opposite to Burlington the width of the lake is 9 ¾ miles, and the soundings taken at eight different places along the line, vary from 50 to about 300 feet.

The buildings of the University of Vermont are delightfully situated at the eastern extremity of the village, at an elevation of 277 feet above the level of the lake.  The prospect from the dome of the principal edifice is, at some season of the year, one of unrivaled beauty, and well repays the toil of ascent.  Here is spread out, as upon a map before the eye, the busy village; the lake, stretching from south to north, with its bays and islands, its steamboats and other water craft; the Winooski river, dashing through dark and frightful chasms and then winding gently through the meadows at the north; and, more remote, the forests and farms and smiling villages; and, to complete the picture, varied outline of mountains, many of whose summits mingle with clouds.  Population of the town about 8000.


At the lake shore, adjoining the Vermont central Railroad wharves and freight depots about 15 to 20 acres of land has been made by extensive wharves and filling the lake from the adjoining banks.  A large building 400 feet long and four stories high filled with Machinery of various kinds driven by steam and fully occupied was burned about the first of April (1858).  Three large buildings are now (May) being erected on the same grounds for various mechanical purposes, and will be completed next month.  There are Iron Foundries, with steam saw and planning mills which are fully occupied in manufacturing lumber, for which this is the principal market between Troy and Montreal, from which much of Vermont, New Hampshire and Massachusetts are supplied with Pine lumber from Canada.

Winooski Village is situated at the Lower Falls in the Winooski River, and 2 miles from the steamboat landing in Burlington.  Here is abundant and excellent water power, which has, hitherto, been only partially improved.  At this place is on extensive Woolen Manufactory, a Cotton Manufactory, Flouring Mill, and several other manufactories and mills.  A large Block Manufactory, Satinet Manufactory, and several mills have been destroyed by fire, which have not yet been rebuilt.  Population about 2000.

From Burlington to Port Kent, (10 miles) the course is a little north of west.  Juniper Island and the Four Brothers lie at the left, and on the right, first Lone-rock or Sharpshin Point, near which is site of the Vermont Episcopal Institute (now in progress of erection), and a little north Appletree Point, and still farther and more remote, Colchester PointWinooski River enters the lake between the last two. Just before reaching Port Kent, a considerable Island is passed lying on the left, called Schuylers Island.  The French called it Isle au Chapon.  The point of the main land lying between this island and Port Kent, is called Point Trembleau.

Port Kent is a pleasant little village, which owes its origin to the late Elkanah Watson, Esq., and has grown up within a few years.  It has a convenient dock from which is shipped the greater part of the immense quantity of iron manufactured in this section of the country.  On the Ausable River, which runs through a region abounding in iron ore and empties into the lake a little north of this port, are the flourishing manufacturing villages of Ausable Forks, Clintonville and Keeseville. On this river are many interesting falls. Those at Birmingham, (2miles from Port Kent) and the Ausable Chasm below through which the river passes, are well worth the notice of the curious traveler.  From port Kent to the Ausable Forks, there is a plank road about 20 miles in length.


“Running the Rapids” of the Ausable Chasm

From Port Kent to Plattsburgh, the course of navigation of the regular passenger vessels is, usually, along the western shore of the lake.

Port Jackson, the only intermediate landing place, is nearly west of the south end of Valcour Island, noted for a severe naval conflict, on the 11th of October, 1776, between the American flotilla under Gen. Arnold, and the British under Capt. Prindle.  The battle was fought a little north of Port Jackson.  Five or six miles nearly east from Port Jackson, was the scene of the conflagration of the steamer Phoenix, on the morning of the 5th of September, 1819.  Previous to the settlement of Port Kent, the steamboats proceeded directly from Burlington to Plattsburgh, along the west shore of Grand Island, as a part of them do at present.  On the morning of the occurrence the Phoenix left Burlington about one o’clock, against a strong north wind – About 3 o’clock, while off nearly west of the south end of Grand Isle, the boat was discovered to be on fire, and all efforts to extinguish it were unavailing.  There were at this time, 44 persons on board, 31 of whom entered the small boats, and succeeded with difficulty, in reaching a small island about a mile to the windward, called Providence Island.  The remaining 143 were soon obliged to commit themselves to the water upon bits of plank and such other things as were within their reach.  The small boats retuned just after day-light and succeeded in saving 5 of those who had managed to keep themselves afloat.  The remaining 7 were drowned. The wreck drifted southward and lodged on a reef extending from Colchester Point.  This is the only accident worthy of notice which has occurred during nearly 50 years of steam navigation on this lake.


Colchester Reef Lighthouse Lake Champlain

Plattsburgh is flourishing village pleasantly situated on both sides of the river Saranac.  It has 5 churches and about 3000 inhabitants.  Fouquet’s Hotel, near the Landing and   Railroad Station, has been owned and occupied by father and son some fifty years.  It is a large, well arranged and well-furnished house – has a fine flower garden – is pleasantly situated on the shore of the bay and is not excelled by any House in the Valley of the Lake.  There are also other good public houses.  There are falls in the river here of about 40 feet, affording a large amount of water power. On these there are several manufacturing establishments, but they are only partially occupied.   Plattsburgh is connected by Railroad with Montreal and with the rouses’ Point and Ogdensburg road.  It is a military post of the United States; and a little south of the village, near the lake shore, the government has erected extensive stone Barracks, and a permanent Breakwate4r for the protection of the harbor.  During the last war with Great Britain, this place was the scene of an important engagement, both on land and water.

Plattsburgh & Montreal Railroad extends from this place to Caughnewaga, 9 miles above Montreal, on the south side of the river.  Here is the ancient village of the Caughnewaga Indians, where they still reside, having a church, &c.  Travelers by this route cross the river by steamboat, in a very picturesque place, just above the rapids, (where the river is never frozen,) landing at Lachine [thence by Railroad to Montreal.)

Battle of Plattsburgh - Sept. 1814

Battle of Plattsburgh – Sept. 1814

Battle of Plattsburgh – On the lst of September, 1814, Gen. (George) Prevost entered the United States at the head of 14,000 men, and advanced towards Plattsburgh, which was then garrisoned by only one brigade, commanded by Gen. Macomb.  Prevost’s advance was slow and cautious, and in the meantime every effort was made by Macomb to call in the neighboring militia.  On the 7th, Prevost appeared before Plattsburgh, and till the 11th awaited the arrival of the British flotilla, being employed in the meantime in erecting batteries.  The American flotilla, commanded by Commodore (Thomas) Macdonough, and consisting of the Saratoga of 26 guns the Eagle of 20 , the Ticonderoga of 17, the Preble of 7, and ten gun-boats carrying 16 guns, two sloops of 11 each, and 13 gun-boats, carrying 18 guns – with 1050 men, and commanded by Commodore (George) Downie.  The American ships were anchored in a line extending in a direction nearly north from Crab Island.  In the morning of the 11th of Sept, the British flotilla came around Cumberland Head, and about 9 o’clock anchored in a line parallel to the American, and about 300 yards distant.  In this situation, the whole force on both sides became engaged, and after a severe conflict of 2 hours and 20 minutes, the engagement was terminated by the surrender of the whole British flotilla, with the exception of a few gun-boats which effected their escape.  The British loss was 84 killed, among whom were Commodore Downie and two Lieutenants.  The American loss was 52 killed and 58 wounded; among the former were Lieutenants (Peter) Gamble (of the Saratoga) and (John) Stansbury (of the Ticonderoga).

The commencement of the naval action seemed to be the signal for a general assault by land.  The enemy opened their batteries upon the American works, and, at the same time attempted to cross the Saranac and gain their rear4.  The Americans, kept up a destructive fire from their forts, and met the enemy at every point with most determined bravery.  As soon as it was known that their fleet had surrendered, the enemy relinquished all their hopes, and began making arrangements for a retreat; and, before the next morning, they had retired so precipitately as to leave behind them their wounded, and large quantities of provisions and military stores.

The officers who fell on both sides, in these engagements, were all buried near together, in the cemetery at Plattsburgh, and the Clinton County Military Association celebrated the anniversary of the battle in 1843, by placing over them marble monuments with appropriate inscription.

Cumberland Head extends there miles into the lake on the north side of Plattsburgh or Cumberland Bay.  On this point is a light-house, and the farm presented to Com. Macdonough by the Legislature of Vermont.   It lies in full view of the scene of his memorable victory on the 11th of September, 1814.  On Charlevoix’s map of 1744, this point is called Cape Scounmounton. – Cumberland Head is connected by a ferry with Grand Island.

Lake Champlain Dock with Railroad Roundtable Ticonderoga

Grand Island or South Hero, is the largest island in the lake, and belongs to Vermont.  It has an excellent soil, and is connected with Cumberland Head on the west by a ferry, and with the main shore, on the east, by a bridge nearly 2 miles long, called the Sand-bar Bridge.

North Hero is another large island lying north of the above.  It constitutes a township of the same name, and belongs to Vermont.  The steamboats from Burlington and Plattsburgh to St. Albans, pass between these islands.

Isle La Motte also belongs to Vermont; contains 4620 acres, and constitutes a township of the same name.  Its rocks are lime from which are quarried a fine black and gray marble.

Alburgh, lying still farther north, is a township formed by a point of land extending southward, between the lake and Missisco Bay.  It is connected with Canada along the 45th parallel of latitude.  In this town is a medicinal spring which is a place of considerable resort for invalids.  In Highgate, lying east of the bay, is another medicinal spring of quite equal celebrity.

The Northern Vermont Railroad terminates on the west shore of Alburgh, opposite to the termination of the Ogdensburg Railroad at Rouse’s Point, and the two terminations are connected by a bridge.

Missisco Bay is a large body of water extending into Canada, on the east side of which is the village of Phillipsburgh.

Chazy Landing is sixteen miles north of Plattsburgh.

Rouse’s Point is 9 miles north of Chazy, and in the township of Champlain, and about 1 mile from the United States line.  Here is a convenient ste4amboat landing with a large and well conducted Hotel, and the connection of the Northern Vermont, the Champlain and St. Lawrence, and the Ogdensburg Railway.  Nearly opposite, on the west part of Alburgh, is Windmill Point, This point takes its name from a windmill built here by the French while they had possession the lake.

Fort Montgomery AKA - Fort Blunder

Fort Montgomery AKA – Fort Blunder

United States Line – This line was fixed in 1842, by treaty negotiated by Lord Ashburnham and Mr. Webster, on the old line formerly supposed to be the 45th parallel of latitude. Immediately after the close of the lst, war, the United States Government commenced building a fort on low point to the northward of Rouse’s Point landing, which should completely command the passage up the lake.  By the survey of this line in 1818, it was found that this point was north of the 45th parallel, and the work was consequently abandoned; but by the late treaty, the fort was secured to the United States, and the work has recently been resumed.  An opening though the woos, like a road, on the east side of the lake, and about 200 rods north of the fort, marks the place of the Line as now established.

Ash Island, lying three or four miles north of the Line, is sometimes regarded as the termination of the lake towards the north, and the commencement of the Richelieu (or Sorel) river, which forms its outlet.

La Colle, lying on the west side, was a British military post during the lst war with Great Britain, and is noted on account of an unsuccessful attack made by the Americans upon the enemy, sheltered in the stone mills at this place, on the 29th of March, 1814.

Isle Aux Noix is the frontier military post of the British.  It is strongly fortified and garrisoned, and completely commands the passage of the lake (or river).   The Americans took possession of this island in 1775, and retained it till they retreated from Canada, the next year.  It was, afterwards, the principal scene of negotiations between the British officers and the agents of the leading men in Vermont, by which a large British army was kept inactive during the last three years of the revolutionary war.

St. Johns is the termination of the steamboat navigation in this direction, being checked by the Chambly rapids.  The village of St. Johns contains about 2000 inhabitants.  It is a military post, and extensive barracks have been erected here since the late rebellion, which are pleasantly situated, and are occupied by a few British troops.  It was the scene of some military operations during the revolution.  It sustained a siege of six weeks, before it surrendered to Gen. Montgomery, in Nov. 1775.  St. Johns is a port of entry, with a custom house.

Canal Boat on the Chambly Canal William Higgins – Ticonderoga, NY

Chambly Canal is 12 miles long; connecting the navigable waters above with those below Chambly rapids, and extending from St. Johns, to Chambly.  There are 9 locks, 120 feet long and 24 feet wide, each with a lift of 10 feet – making 90 feet in the whole.  It was built by the British government, finished in 1843, and cost about $400,000.  This canal completed an uninterrupted water communication between Quebec and the city of New York.

Travelers from Lake Champlain to Montreal, formerly were carried to St. Johns, by steamboat, thence by railroad to Laprairie, 9 miles above Montreal, and by steamboat from Laprairie.  All the boats for passengers on Lake Champlain, now stop at Rouse’s Point.  From this place they travel by the Champlain and St. Lawrence Railroad, which passes St. Johns. And has its terminus opposite the city, where it is extended over the shallow portion of the river, so that the ferry is about a mile in length.

Montreal, (the largest city in Canada,) contains about 70,000 inhabitants, and is steadily increasing.  Being at the head of ship navigation on the St. Lawrence, and connected with the upper Lakes by the Lachine Canal and by the Grand Trunk Railroad; with the valley of the Ottawa by railroad; with Quebec by the St. Lawrence River and railroad; and with the “States” by railroad to Portland and railroad to Lake Champlain, its commanding positon insures a very large and increasing business. It retains much of the original style of building, which, with the modern buildings- cathedral, court-house, banks, wharves, &c.  Of massive stone-work, give it all the appearance of a European City, which features makes it highly interesting to an American.  The objects of interest in and about the city, are quite too numerous to particularize.  The city is well supplied with hotels, among which Coleman’s(a name familiar to every American traveler,) Montreal House, Custom House Square, near the Steamboat Landing, is one of the best, and is much frequented by American travelers for its convenience of location and American style.  This House has been much enlarged the last year by adding a large number of lodging rooms, and commands the finest view of the river from any House in the city.  The Hotels in Notre Dame, and St. James streets, Donnagana’s.  St. Lawrence, Ottowa, and others, are first class houses, where travelers have not cause to complain.  Between this city and Quebec is a well-conducted Railroad and regular line of steamboats.  Those who are always in a hurry, travel by the former; while those who wish to view the river scenery and have a quiet time, prefer the boats.


Port of Montreal

William Henry, (or Sorel,) is 45 miles below Montreal, situated at the junction of the outlet of Lake Champlain with the St. Lawrence, or rather with the upper end of Lake St. Peters, which is an expansion of that river, 25 miles long and 9 broad. On the way from Montreal to Wm. Henry, are passed the villages of Longueil, Vercheres, Varennes, and several others.

Port St. Francis is the principal landing place between Wm. Henry and Three Rivers.  It owes its existence chiefly to the efforts of the British American Land Company.  Passengers bound to the Eastern Townships are landed here, and proceed up the river St. Francis, by stage.

Three Rivers, (situated nearly midway between Montreal and Quebec,) is the largest town between those cities.  It lies at the junction of the river St. Maurice with the St. Lawrence.  In the mouth of the St. Maurice are two small islands, which divide the steam in three parts, and which appear from the St. Lawrence, like the mouths of three rivers, and hence the name.

Richelieu Rapids are half way from Three Rivers to Quebec.  The St. Lawrence is here about two miles wide with a rocky shore, and the rapids extend about 9 miles.  Steamboats pass these rapids without difficulty or danger, but other vessels can ascend them only by taking advantage the tide, or by being towed up by steamboats.

Sillery Cove, noted for the last battle between the English and French, which completed the conquest of Canada in 1759, and Wolfe’s Cove, where Wolfe landed and drew his cannon up the precipice, are passed just before reaching Quebec, as is also Cape Diamond, at the base of which the gallant Montgomery was killed, on the 31st December 1775.

Between Montreal and Quebec there are regular lines of steamboats, generally well-fitted with state rooms and cabins.  Travelers will find them at all times in good order, with intelligent and obliging captains, clerks and stewards that understand and perform their several duties.  The captains and pilots are men of experience; and in no part of the world have fewer accidents occurred to steamboats than on this river.  Other place on the American continent furnishes more objects of interest to the t traveler than Montreal and Quebec.

Citadel - Quebec

Citadel – Quebec

Quebec is the most interesting place on the continent for an American to visit.  Here may be seen the Citadel, 350 feet above the river, resembling the old castles of Europe in feudal times. With a town built and fortified in the manner of the most strongly fortified towns of Europe in the fifteenth century.  It was here that one earliest settlements in North American was commenced by Champaign in 1600s, and most of the stone-houses built during the first 150 years after its settlement, are still standing in the upper town, many of them bomb-proof.  For five miles before reaching Quebec, a succession of coves are passed, filled with all sorts of lumber, with vessels loading for Europe, and other places; and as the traveler approaches the city he passes Cape Diamond, rising about 350 feet from the water.  The city is divided into the upper and lower town, the former enclosed by a wall and five gates, and about 200 feet above the latter.  The lower town is much of it built on land gained by excavation and building wharves into the river.  It is entirely occupied for business; the merchants, bankers, &c., mostly residing in the upper town, or in the adjoining country.  Travelers will always find carriages on the arrival of Steamboats or Railway trains, to convey them by a winding road to the upper town.  The principal hotel is Russell’s Hotel, formerly the Albion, Palace Street, which has been kept many years and is still conducted by the brothers Russells (American).  Travelers for business or pleasure will find this a large, commodious and well conducted House; carriages at all times, permits for visiting the Citadel admitting visitors, descriptions of all places of interest to visitors, and every facility for visiting the city or adjoining country.  Fresh salmon in perfection are one of the Institutions of Quebec during the spring and summer.

The places of interest to be seen about Quebec are very numerous.  The interior of the citadel is freely shown to American travelers, for which permits can always be had; also descriptions of the most interesting places in the vicinity.

A regular line of steamboats now run to the Saguenay River, 140 miles below, stopping at intermediate places.  A line of Mail steamships to England, has also been established, which is very successfully completing with the lines from Atlantic ports.

The End ~~~

Horican at Baldwin Dock Lake George

Horican at Baldwin Dock Lake George

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12/1/16 wgd

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