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Peacetime: Maritime history and commerce
"The Phoenix was launched... and began regular trips...between Whitehall and St. Johns, under the command of Captain Sherman. The boat was 146 feet long, 27 feet wide, 9 1/4 feet deep, and was run by an engine of 45 horsepower. A canvas awning was stretched over the main deck. Below there were cabins for ladies and gentlemen, handsomely furnished, and in the charge of Sion E. Howard, later a prominent business man of Burlington, as steward. The boat was also provided with a small state room, a sitting room, a smoking room, a barber shop, a kitchen and a pantry, a captain's office and a baggage room. The deck was not fitted up for the use of passengers. The fare for the trip from Whitehall to St. Johns, including meals, was $10." 1
June 28, 1815
"...a steamer called the Champlain was built under the direction of Capt. George Brush, who commanded the vessel. The engine and boilers of the old Vermont were used and the boat was able to make about four miles an hour. About a year later the engine of the Phoenix was transferred to the Champlain, which increased her speed to six miles an hour, a new engine being installed in the Phoenix which gave her a speed of eight miles an hour." 2
May 7, 1816
September 21, 1816
November 1, 1816
April 15, 1817
made two trips a week between Whitehall and St. Johns, but early in the
season she was burned to the water's edge while lying at her dock in
"...a new steamboat
built at Vergennes by Captain Sherman, Amos W. Barnum, of Vergennes, Guy
Catlin, of Burlington, and Teunis Van Vechten, of Albany. The engine and
boilers of the
were used. Capt. Daniel Davis commanded her for about two years, and for
a time the Congress was the only steamboat on the lake." 4
Alarmed at the US insistence upon building fortifications at the northern end of Lake Champlain, the Crown begins work on Fort Lennox at Isle aux Noix just down the Richelieu River.
"During the winter of 1819-20 the Champlain Steamboat Company built another boat called the Phoenix, the engine built for the first Phoenix being used. Capt. Jehaziel Sherman commanded and it was claimed that the new Phoenix was the fastest steamboat in the world. The Congress and the Phoenix made three trips a week between Whitehall and St. Johns, the fare one way being $6. As the Otter Creek was closed by ice early in the season, it was determined... to remove the shipyards of the Champlain Steamboat Company from Vergennes to Shelburne harbor, where several acres of land were purchased, and wharves, shops, ways, storehouses, and mills were built." 6
"...a charter was granted to Charles McNeil, of Charlotte, and H. H. Ross, of Essex, N.Y., for a ferry between those towns, the distance being about three miles. At first the ferry was operated by means of an endless cable, six horses furnishing the motive power." 7
The Canal Boat Era begins
October 8, 1823
March 29, 1825
Four-wheel pleasure carriage on springs, drawn by two horses, including driver- $2.00
The Champlain Transportation Company is established in Burlington. The company, now known as the Lake Champlain Transportation Company continues in operation today.
May 11, 1826
July 26, 1828
March 19, 1830
Construction begins on the Chambly Canal. This important waterway will allow navigation around the infamous rapids at Chambly on the Richelieu River. Work is suspended in 1835, resumed in 1840, and finally completed in 1843. The canal is completed much to the consternation of British and Canadian military planners, who fear the canal would significantly aid any invasion attempt from the United States. The opening of the canal dramatically increases the importance of Fort Lennox to the south.9
The North country, and Lake Champlain region in particular, is hit hard with a recurrence of the dreaded Cholera.
February 22, 1833
Major Hartman Bache, Topographical Engineers, surveys the harbors of Plattsburgh, Burlington, and Port Kent on Lake Champlain. His report will be instrumental in the future construction of breakwaters at these locations.10
"...in 1836, a move was made to fortify both Stony and Windmill Points; the fort on Stony Point to include the higher land known as Steele's Garden. Accordingly, in that year, the U.S. Engineer, Captain Canfield, examined and surveyed the two points named with such design."10
July 4, 1836
August 2, 1836
February 20, 1838
The first lighthouse at Split Rock in Essex, New York is constructed.
The US Army Corps of Engineers begins construction of the Plattsburgh, NY breakwater.13
August 23, 1839
Plans are drawn up by Army Engineer Montgomery C. Meigs for a new fort to be constructed at Stony Point, just south of Rouses Point on Lake Champlain. This fort would be dramatically different from the old work built to the north.
"Owing to the delay in the shipment of dairy products and other goods, due in part to trans-shipments at Whitehall and Troy, Messrs. Follett and Bradley, of Burlington... established the Merchants' line of high grade canal boats, sloop rigged, and able to stand high seas. At Whitehall the rigging of these boats was taken out to enable them to pass through the canal, and they were towed down the Hudson to New York. Three or four days were saved by shippers by this line. A large patronage was secured and twenty or more boats were employed." 14
"...Charles Dickens, while making his American tour, passed through Lake Champlain...his praise of Captain Sherman and the steamboat Burlington was expressed in a wealth of superlatives. In his "American Notes" the famous novelist said: "There is one American boat — the vessel which carried us on Lake Champlain from St. Johns to Whitehall— which I praise very highly, but no more than it deserves, when I say that it is superior even to that on which we went from Queenston to Toronto or to that on which we travelled from the latter place to Kingston, or I have no doubt I may add, to any other place in the world. This steamboat, which is called the Burlington, is a perfectly exquisite achievement of neatness, elegance, and order. The decks are drawing rooms; the cabins are boudoirs, choicely furnished and adorned with prints, pictures, and musical instruments; every nook and corner of the vessel is a perfect curiosity of graceful comfort and beautiful contrivance. Captain Sherman, her commander, to whose ingenuity and excellent taste these results are solely attributable, has bravely and worthily distinguished himself on more than one trying occasion; not least among them in having the moral courage to carry British troops at a time (during the Canadian rebellion) when no other conveyance was open to them. He and his vessel are held in universal respect, both by his own countrymen and ours; and no man ever enjoyed the popular esteem , who, in his sphere of action, won and wore it better than this gentleman...By means of this floating palace we were soon in the United States again, and called that evening at Burlington, a pretty town, where we lay an hour or son. We reached Whitehall, where we were to disembark, at six next morning; and might have done so earlier, but that these steamboats lie by for some hours in the night, in consequence of the lake becoming very narrow at that part of the journey, and difficult of navigation in the dark. Its width is so contracted at one point, indeed, that they are obliged to warp round by means of a rope." 15
August 9, 1842
March 22, 1843
The Chambly Canal is completed. This 12-mile canal with a series of 9 locks effectively bypasses the infamous Chambly rapids, long an obstacle to navigation between the St. Lawrence and the Hudson Rivers along the Richelieu/Lake Champlain corridor.
"'Brig.-general Wool, U.S. Army,—The Hero of
Beekmantown as well as Queenstown—"His laurels are green, though his locks
February 19, 1844
The first 850 feet of the Plattsburgh, NY breakwater has been constructed.16
November 28, 1847
June 6, 1848
August 10, 1849
The Arrival of the Railroads
December 15, 1855
July 17, 1857
New lighthouses are constructed on Lake Champlain at Windmill Point and Isle La Motte, Vermont and Point Au Roche, and Crown Point, New York.18
December 5, 1859
1 Walter Hill Crockett, A HISTORY OF LAKE CHAMPLAIN- THE RECORD OF THREE CENTURIES, 1609-1909. (Burlington, Vermont: Hobart J. Shanley & Co.1909) 263
2 Ibid., 264
3 Ibid., 264
4 Ibid., 264
5 This is incorrect, although it is a very common mistake. The first fort at Island Point, later determined to have been constructed on Canadian soil, was not named Fort Montgomery. Work on Fort Montgomery, shown in the photo, was not begun until 1844, two years after the Webster-Ashburton Treaty moved the border north, effectively placing Island Point back in the United States. [jpm]
6 Walter Hill Crockett, A HISTORY OF LAKE CHAMPLAIN- THE RECORD OF THREE CENTURIES, 1609-1909. (Burlington, Vermont: Hobart J. Shanley & Co.1909) 264-265
7 Ibid., 268
9 André Charbonneau, The Fortifications of Île Aux Noix. (Parks Canada. 1994) 256-258
10 New York District, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Plattsburgh Breakwater, City of Plattsburgh, New York. <http://www.nan.usace.army.mil/business/prjlinks/culture/plattsbg/index.htm> (Accessed Dec. 30, 2005)
11 Daniel T. Taylor, The Shores of Champlain. 1979. Champlain, NY: Moorsfield Press. Originally appeared in the Champlain Counselor . Reprinted c. 1937 in the North Countryman.
12 New York District, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Plattsburgh Breakwater, City of Plattsburgh, New York. <http://www.nan.usace.army.mil/business/prjlinks/culture/plattsbg/index.htm> (Accessed Dec. 30, 2005)
14 Walter Hill Crockett, A HISTORY OF LAKE CHAMPLAIN- THE RECORD OF THREE CENTURIES, 1609-1909. (Burlington, Vermont: Hobart J. Shanley & Co.1909) 267-268
15 Ibid. 271-272
16 New York District, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Plattsburgh Breakwater, City of Plattsburgh, New York. <http://www.nan.usace.army.mil/business/prjlinks/culture/plattsbg/index.htm> (Accessed Dec. 30, 2005)
17 New York District, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Burlington Breakwater - City of Burlington, Vermont. <http://www.nan.usace.army.mil/project/vermont/burweb/> (Accessed Dec. 30, 2005)
10 George Clifford, Lake Champlain Lighthouses. Plattsburgh, New York: Clinton County Historical Association. 2002)
** THREE CENTURIES IN THE CHAMPLAIN VALLEY: A COLLECTION OF HISTORICAL FACTS AND INCIDENTS- TERCENTENARY EDITION. 1909: Compiled and Edited by Mrs. George Fuller Tuttle. Saranac Chapter, D.A.R. Plattsburgh, NY.
Steamboat illustrations: Warwick Stevens Carpenter. The Summer Paradise in History. Albany: General Passenger Department, The Delaware and Hudson Company. 1914. Courtesy of John and Barbara Gallagher.
This is the conclusion of Part VII (b): 1814 AND BEYOND...
Peace and Prosperity 1815- 1859
The TIMELINE continues HERE
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