Lighthouses

The Adirondack Coast has plenty of history for you to explore, including six lighthouses along Lake Champlain.  The lighthouses tell the stories of those who lived and worked near to protect those on the waters of Lake Champlain.

Please note: some are not available for public access because they reside on private, residential property, which often used to be the light keeper’s quarters. However, all can be seen from the waters.

Barber’s Point Lighthouse

Work on the lighthouse, a two-story structure with a Mansard roof and an integrated tower, continued through the end of 1872, and the light made its debut at the opening of navigation on Lake Champlain in 1873. The lower story of Barber’s Point Lighthouse is faced with blue limestone blocks and originally had a brown-shingled roof. A fifth-order Fresnel lens, with a focal plane of eighty-three feet above the lake, beamed a fixed white light, which was visible for 14 ¾ miles. Barber’s Point Lighthouse is a twin to Lake Champlain’s Bluff Point Lighthouse, which was also funded in 1870 but didn’t commence operation until 1874.

The lighthouse is privately owned. Grounds, dwelling and tower are all closed to the public.

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Bluff Point Lighthouse

Placed in service in 1874, the Bluff Point Lighthouse - also known as the Valcour Island Light - was one of the last lighthouses to be manned on the lake. It guided ships through the narrow passageway between the island and the New York shore for almost 60 years. Its fifth-order Fresnel lens was seen each evening from 1874 until 1930 when a steel tower was erected just south of the structure. In 2004 the lighthouse was reactivated when the light was removed from the steel tower and re-installed in the lighthouse.

The lighthouse is owned by New York State Parks and managed by Clinton County Historical Association. Grounds are open, dwelling and tower are open to the public in season.

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Crown Point Lighthouse

Best of Sightseeing - In 1853, Henry B. Smith, collector of customs at Plattsburgh stated the need for a lighthouse at Crown Point. His reasoning was that those used to navigating Lake Champlain felt a light to guide vessels through the narrow channel between Crown Point and Chimney Point was needed more than at any other point on the lake. Construction began in 1858. Crown Point Lighthouse originally consisted of a fifty-five-foot-tall octagonal limestone tower connected to a wooden, Cape-Cod-style cottage.

Looking for a way to honor the man who discovered Lake Champlain, a committee was established to plan a tri-centennial event beginning on July 4, 1909. Inspired by a suggestion published in a local newspaper, which proposed that a local lighthouse be converted in his honor, Crown Point Lighthouse was eventually chosen to become a memorial to Samuel de Champlain.

Completed in time for the celebration, the memorial is one of the most unique and decorative lighthouses in the country. Surrounded by eight  columns, and topped with an ornate cornice, parapet and lantern room, the memorial surrounds the original interior brick and spiral staircase. A bronze sculpture, depicting Champlain, a Huron Indian and French soldier, was designed by Carl Heber.

Famous French sculptor, Auguste Rodin, also donated a bronze bust. Gearing up for another celebration, the site began a restoration project in 2004 for the 400 year anniversary of Champlain's discovery.

The lighthouse is owned by the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation. Grounds open, tower open to the public in season.

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Cumberland Head Lighthouse

Cumberland Head Lighthouse, lighted with 11 lamps and as many bright reflectors, was built to guide mariners into the harbor at Plattsburgh.

The Lighthouse Board requested funds in 1866 for the complete reconstruction of the tower and keeper’s quarter’s at Cumberland Head, as the previous poorly constructed lighthouse was too short to be seen from the north. Congress provided $18,000 in March of 1867 for rebuilding the lighthouse in a better location, and later that year, the original tower was taken apart and the raw materials were carried to a nearby location.

Blue limestone blocks were hauled from a quarry on Isle la Motte across the frozen surface of Lake Champlain to be used in the construction of the new lighthouse. When the new lighthouse was complete, the light station consisted of a fifty-foot tower attached to a two-story home. The light was showcased for the first time in November of 1868 at a level of seventy-five feet above Lake Champlain.

The lighthouse is privately owned. Grounds, dwelling and tower are closed to the public.

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Point au Roche Lighthouse

In 1852, the federal government purchased 10.4 acres on the New York shore of Lake Champlain near Point Au Roche for $440 to serve as the site for a lighthouse. It wasn’t activated until the opening of navigation in 1859. A temporary beacon light was exhibited from Point au Roche from 1856 until the lighthouse commenced operation.

Point au Roche Lighthouse consisted of an octagonal blue limestone tower connected to a wooden cottage, and like its sister lights, had trapezoidal panes in its lantern room. A sixth-order Fresnel lens was used to produce a fixed white light that could be seen for thirteen miles, from its focal plane of fifty-four feet above the surface of the lake.

The tower itself is owned by the Coast Guard, while the dwelling and surrounding property are privately owned. Grounds, dwelling and tower are all closed to the public.

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Split Rock Lighthouse

In 1837, Congress made $5,000 available for the construction of a lighthouse at “Split Rock Point”. Lake Champlain’s second lighthouse, it cast its beam for the first time in 1838, shortly after Cumberland Head Lighthouse, using eleven lamps and fourteen-inch reflectors. The stone tower was originally thirty feet tall, but on the bluff it had a focal plane of 110 feet above Lake Champlain.

The original tower was replaced in 1867 by a thirty-nine-foot, octagonal tower constructed of blue limestone extracted from a quarry on nearby Willsboro Point. A storeroom was built at the base of the new tower, and a wooden passageway was constructed to connect the tower to the dwelling, which was thoroughly repaired and repainted.

The lighthouse is privately owned. Grounds, dwelling and tower are closed to the public.

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