Are you curious about Vermont’s largest lake, Lake Champlain? At Coldwell Banker Islands Realty, we breathe the Lake Champlain lifestyle and are here to share more information about the beautiful Lake Champlain region. Discover how the lake got its name, its battles, how many islands it contains, and other interesting facts.
Home to the oldest reef in the world, Lake Champlain is full of history. The Chazy Reef, a fossil reef in Isle La Motte, Vermont, spans over 1,567 acres and is over 480 million years old. This National Natural Landmark is viewable to the public at the Goodsell Ridge Fossil Preserve and the Fisk Quarry Reserve.
Lake Champlain was first discovered in 1609 by French explorer Samuel De Champlain, hence the name. Still, there are records of multiple names given by indigenous tribes, such as the Iroquois and Abenaki.
The lake was a vital part of many battles and wars throughout the next couple of hundred years. During the Revolutionary War, Lake Champlain played a crucial role in shipbuilding, colony movement, and naval battles. The Battle of Lake Champlain, also known as the Battle of Plattsburgh, took place during the War of 1812 and prevented the British from invading New York. This battle was quite significant as it stopped the last invasion of the northern states by the British.
Shipwrecks dating back to the 18th century can be found in Lake Champlain. You can even go diving to see some of them through the Vermont Underwater Historic Preserves.
Lake Champlain is about 120 miles long and 12 miles wide at its widest point. Even though the average depth is 64ft, the deepest point reaches down to 400 feet. There are 71 islands throughout Lake Champlain. These range from tiny remote islands to larger islands with towns and full-time residents. Three are state parks: Knight, Woods, and Burton Island. There are also vacation rental opportunities out on Butler Island. The three largest islands are towns that include: South Hero/Grand Isle, North Hero, and Isle La Motte. Approximately 200,000 people use Lake Champlain as their home’s water source.
Over 90 species of fish live in the waters of Lake Champlain. It’s considered a frontline fishery for two species: salmonid species (lake trout and salmon) and bass. Bassmaster magazine even named Lake Champlain the fourth-best lake in the region for fishing in 2021!
There are over 318 bird species that live near or around Lake Champlain! The state's second most productive waterfowl site is located right in the marshes around The Sandbar Causeway.
Another form of life is believed to live beneath the surface of Lake Champlain. The mythical lake monster, Champ, is a creature similar to the Loch Ness Monster that some believe is living in the depths of the waters. There are reports of Champ sightings as early as the 17th century.
Lake Champlain plays an essential role in travel for everyone. Two ferries travel year-round between New York and Vermont, making it easy to commute for recreational or work purposes.
In 2022, Burlington welcomed back a commuter rail service between Burlington and New York City. The Burlington Union Station is located right on Main Street. The Rutland-Canadian Railroad ended its use in 1962 and was developed into a public trail for bicyclists and pedestrians. The trail runs along the shores of Lake Champlain, offering a unique recreational experience.
You can easily travel to the Lake Champlain Islands by the causeway that connects the Vermont mainland to the island of South Hero. Multiple bridges connect the different island towns and to the mainland of Swanton and New York State.
You've heard of the five Great Lakes of North America, but did you know there used to be a sixth? On March 6th, 1998, President Clinton declared Lake Champlain the sixth Great Lake. Despite the bill being signed, the title for Lake Champlain didn’t last long. Many countries ended up disagreeing with the decision and wanted the status rescinded. So, only a couple weeks later, on March 24th, 1998, President Clinton did as the public wished, and Lake Champlain was no longer a Great Lake. Even though it’s not official anymore, the “Sixth Great Lake” nickname has stuck with the lake.
Lake Champlain is full of history, life, and adventure. If you want to learn more about life on Lake Champlain, our Realtors are here to help.