September 23, 2017 – Crown Point, NY
Map: Web map
Location: 742 Bridge Road, Crown Point, NY 12928
Champlain Memorial Lighthouse in Crown Point, NY, near the Vermont border, is one of the most historic lighthouses in Upstate New York. It’s also been called “one of the most unusual lighthouses of its kind in the world.”
On July 4, 1609, Samuel de Champlain discovered the lake on which his name would be bestowed. In 1858, Crown Point Lighthouse was built on the site originally occupied by a windmill that was built by the French in 1737. In the early 1900s, while planning a week-long celebration to commemorate the tricentennial of Champlain’s discovery of the lake, commissions from New York and Vermont sought to erect a memorial to the French explorer. A suggestion in a local newspaper’s Letters to the Editor, was to convert an existing lighthouse into a memorial. Crown Point Lighthouse was chosen as the site and the conversion of the lighthouse into a memorial was completed in 1912.
Using a style popular in Samuel de Champlain’s time, the limestone exterior of the lighthouse was replaced with eight Doric columns resting upon a conical base made of Fox Island granite imported from Maine.
An ornate cornice, parapet, and lantern room were also added to complete the memorial.
Parts of the foundation, the interior brick, and the cylindrical shaft holding the spiral staircase are from the original tower, and the space between the old and new towers was filled with concrete.
On the side of the memorial facing the water is a sculpture, crafted by American Carl Heber, depicting Champlain flanked by a crouching Huron Indian and a French soldier.
This sculpture stands above the prow of a canoe that was built into the base of the memorial.
The French donated “La France,” a bronze bust by Auguste Rodin with an inscription commemorating Champlain’s exploration of the lake, to be incorporated in the monument.
The official dedication of the completed 55 ft. tall monument, presided over by President William H. Taft, was held on July 5, 1912.
The lighthouse is easily accessible from the NY State Campground at Crown Point Historic Site. It is open to the public and a visit to the top is highly recommended.
The memorial served as an active lighthouse for only fourteen years and in 1926, its light was extinguished. The tower is marked on navigational charts, but does not currently serve as an aid to navigation.
The lighthouse is located on the grounds of the Crown Point Campground. The entire reservation, including all 49 acres of the campground, are listed in the National Register of Historic Places and have been designated by the United States Secretary of the Interior as a National Historic Landmark.