Location: Addison, Vermont
Webpage: Vermont State Park
General Description: Chimney Point on Lake Champlain is one of the earliest and most intensely settled sites in the Champlain Valley, therefore it was also one of the most strategic. This State Historic Site is at the foot of the bridge crossing the narrowest point on Lake Champlain over to Crown Point Peninsula. Archeological excavations of the site required prior to replacement of the original bridge in 2011 uncovered a wealth of artifacts from its long history. This history goes back as far as 7,500 years with Paleo-Indians regularly camped, hunted, and fished the inland sea following retreat of the glaciers in the last ice age. As the temperatures rose and the ground rebound, the inland sea was gradually replaced by the fresh water lake known today as Lake Champlain. From 7000-1000 years ago the predominant culture is called the Archaic period where Indians used stone spear points and atlatl spear throwers. From 1000 BC to 1600 AD, the native culture is called the Woodland period and is exemplified by the decorative pottery and extensive trade networks. French interests in the area began in 1609 when Samuel de Champlain explored this region and over the next 100 years French fur trappers and traders interacted with the native population. By 1690, the British colonies were beginning to encroach on this area and tensions began to build. In 1731, the French decided to firmly establish their presence and control the lake route from the British colonies to Canada by building a wooden fort on top of the bluff of what is today Chimney Point. It was only 100 by 100 feet in size with chambers for commandant, chaplain, and guards, a kitchen, bakery, and storehouse. However, this location only lasted three years, when in 1734 the French built a much larger stone fortress across the lake on Crown Point in what is now New York. The museum has a great series of exhibits and a short film about this rich history with examples of the many artifacts that have been recovered for each period in its history. This building was originally an inn at the place where ferries would take travelers across the lake. Part of the museum is the restored tavern from some time after the Revolutionary War.
1) Except for the museum, there is not much to see at this state park. The museum, however, is certainly worth the time. We were fortunate to visit on a state holiday (Bennington Battle Day) and there was no cost to visit the museum. They have a nice video about the history of the site which is well worth the time.
2) The exhibits about each of the time periods from the earliest native Americans to the Revolutionary War are very well done and they have a number of artifacts for each time period.
3) They have restored the tavern, as this was originally a small inn, to its condition following the Revolutionary War and has some interesting features. I especially liked the decorations carved into the bar.
4) One of the rooms on the second floor is devoted to the history of clock making in Vermont. I was not aware there was such a long tradition of making clocks and watches in the state. Very interesting.