The old Lake Champlain Bridge is gone, but not forgotten. The New York State Department of Transportation has announced a commemoration program highlighting the original 1929 Lake Champlain Bridge, which was replaced by a new span last fall.
The old Lake Champlain Bridge is gone, but not forgotten.
The New York State Department of Transportation has announced a commemoration program highlighting the original 1929 Lake Champlain Bridge, which was replaced by a new span last fall.
The program now has two interpretive displays located in New York’s Lake Champlain Visitors Center and Vermont’s Chimney Point State Historic Site along with a website, www.dot.ny.gov/LCBCommemoration.
Additional displays will be installed in the region later this year.
“New York State and Vermont worked quickly to deliver a modern, new bridge over Lake Champlain, restoring a critically important connection for people and businesses on both sides of the border, as well as for long distance travelers and tourists,” NYSDOT Commissioner Joan McDonald said. “I am very pleased to once again work together with the state of Vermont to provide important historical information about a bridge that has played such an important role in the region’s growth and development.”
Vermont Transportation Secretary Brian Searles echoed those comments.
“We are pleased to co-host these commemorative installations,” he said. “The original Champlain Bridge is an important part of our shared history and like the new bridge, a symbol of the ongoing cooperation between New York and Vermont in maintaining the vitality of our region.”
The original structure, opened in 1929, was closed in October 2009 after NYSDOT engineers declared the span unsafe. NYSDOT worked with state and federal agencies, as well as Vermont and area residents, to replace the bridge with an updated structure. The new bridge opened to traffic in November 2011.
NYSDOT’s interpretive displays include exhibits of bridge artifacts and memorabilia, as well as sign panels that tell the story of the former Lake Champlain Bridge. The largest exhibit is located at the Lake Champlain Visitors Center, where a room devoted to the former bridge includes memorabilia from the building’s former use as a bridge superintendent’s residence and toll collection office from 1929 to 1987.
The early American tavern building at the Chimney Point State Historic Site in Vermont will contain displays of newly discovered artifacts collected from the site of a 1731 French fort after an old bridge pier was removed. Outdoor exhibits set to open later this year include the only bridge pier salvaged after demolition and an examination of 9,000 years of human habitation at Chimney Point.
New York State Department of Environmental Conservation Commissioner Joe Martens said the new exhibits help tell the history of the area.
“The Champlain Bridge exhibit adds a new dimension to the story of Crown Point not only as a location of important historic events, but also as an important regional tourism destination,” he said. “The new bridge fits nicely into the setting provided by the French and British forts, the Champlain Memorial Lighthouse and the historic Steamboat Pier.”
Three more displays will be installed in the area by summer’s end, including at Powerhouse Park and The Iron Center in Port Henry. NYSDOT will also construct a walking path along the New York State shore of Lake Champlain and around the Crown Point State Historic Site, which will feature additional historic informational displays.
“This bridge played a critical role for generations to the surrounding communities,” Moriah Supervisor Tom Scozzafava said. “It is proper that this bridge be remembered for future generations, and this commemoration will show the importance of this historical structure.”
The new website features historical reference information about the bridge, including in-depth oral histories from community members, business owners and those involved in maintaining the former bridge; short films about the bridge’s history; and a Historical American Engineering Record that includes architectural plans, photographs and drawings regarding the planning, design and construction of the former bridge. A documentary film and popular history book are still in development and will be added to the website this summer.
The commemoration, budgeted at $750,000, is part of the bridge replacement’s total cost of $67 million.