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In the late s, a trend of horse-powered ferries swept the lake, and a number of these innovative craft were put into service at medium-distance crossings. By , however, all of these vessels had been replaced with other watercraft types. The opening of the Chambly Canal around the rapids of the Richelieu River in also boosted the economy of the Champlain Valley.

The new waterway opened a direct passage to interior trade markets and allowed merchants to ship goods between the Great Lakes, the Eastern Seaboard, and the St. Lawrence Valley without trans-shipment. The idea of connecting Lake Champlain with the Atlantic Ocean by rail was first conceived in the s. In a railroad was completed that connected the Hudson and Champlain Valleys.

This railroad foreshadowed the dramatic effect railways would have on Lake Champlain's shipping and passenger service. The prospect of connecting the Champlain Valley to the Atlantic Ocean became reality in with the completion of a rail line from Boston to Burlington, Vermont.


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The railroad industry developed very quickly in the Northeast. The earliest railroads crossed upstate New York and Vermont on their way from Canadian and Great Lakes cities to the warm water ports on the Eastern Seaboard. The early railroad years seemed to create more business for the lake vessels, but it soon became clear that they would ultimately appropriate nearly all business. Once railroad spurs were constructed throughout the Champlain Valley and the reliability of trains increased, the price of shipping by rail dropped dramatically and seriously competed with lake commerce.

Railroads also offered a year-round transportation alternative, something that Lake Champlain could not provide.

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The railroads reduced the work of vessels on Lake Champlain to moving cheap and heavy freight and tourists. Hauling cheap Canadian timber for growing American cities proved to be a staple for lake shipping for the rest of the nineteenth century, and ferry companies still provided the fastest and easiest service around the Champlain Valley. Steamboats of all sizes and functions were built and operated on the lake during the mid-nineteenth century in attempts to speed transportation on the lake and to make it more economical.

These steamboats originally complemented the services of many of the sailing craft but eventually dominated the longer ferry crossings throughout the lake. One of the most negative effects on Lake Champlain commerce resulted from the construction of a rail line on the western shore of Lake Champlain. Many vessels operating on the lake had depended upon the transport of bulky cargoes of iron ore mined in the Adirondack Mountains. Once railroad tracks ran along the western shoreline, they were able to capture almost all of the iron ore traffic, simply as a matter of economics.

The new rail line also rendered the need for passenger steamers on Lake Champlain unnecessary.

Lake Champlain As centuries Pass by Allen P Beach Vermont New York history | eBay

Passenger steamers continued to operate on the lake until the middle of the twentieth century, but they were no longer an essential part of the Champlain Valley's transportation network. The s marked a rapid decline in all types of commercial sailing craft on Lake Champlain. With a few exceptions, the production of commercial sailing craft ceased in the s, and a substantial number of the existing canal sloops and schooners were dismasted and converted into standard towed canal boats.

An increasing number of steam tugs made towing a faster and more effective means of moving cargo around the lake. The expanding rail system also served a greater number of the northern lake towns, drawing away the freight that had previously supported the sailing craft. Lake Champlain commerce survived into the middle of the twentieth century by carrying bulky cargoes within the Champlain Valley and bringing fuel oil, kerosene, and gasoline to the largest lake towns and cities.

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In an effort to stimulate lake commerce and activity on the Champlain Canal, the State of New York decided to enlarge the lock size to accommodate larger vessels by The state wrongly assumed that enlarging the size of the vessels would reduce the cost of shipment, thus providing an incentive to use water transportation instead of railroads. The new lock dimensions, however, exceeded the practical size for a shallow-draft wooden vessel.

Dive into Phoenix II, an early 19th century Lake Champlain steamboat

Commercial wooden ships had largely become obsolete by the s, when wooden shipbuilding yielded to the construction of iron or steel vessels. The use of ferries also eventually declined, primarily as a result of bridge construction. By , bridges connected almost all of the Champlain Islands, and the roads around Lake Champlain had been vastly improved. The automobile, introduced to the region at the turn of the century, eventually replaced the horse and carriage and became the most popular way to transport goods and passengers throughout the Champlain Valley.

Even tourists abandoned the lake's excursion vessels and embraced the automobile as the easiest way to explore and move about the area. As the number of automobiles increased, the demand for better roads and bridges took precedence over the lake's commercial fleet. The Woodland Period is considered the most complex prehistoric period in the Champlain Valley. By this time, Native Americans in the region had developed a culture based on the selective borrowing of ideas and innovations from other people with whom they had come in contact over the past years.

The people of the Woodland Period were becoming more sedentary in their living habits, and established substantial settlements on the floodplains of major rivers, such as the Winooski and Otter Creek. The subsistence patterns of prehistoric Champlain Valley residents gradually changed from mobile hunting and fishing parties to a dependence upon horticulture and the gathering of a greater diversity and quantity of wild plant foods. Long-distance trade decreased dramatically, which suggests an apparent isolation of Champlain Valley residents at this time.

A Living Lake!

At the beginning of the Woodland Period, the Iroquois seem to have moved in and asserted their dominance over the Brewerton people living west of the Champlain Valley. By Middle Woodland times, Lake Champlain had become the boundary between two cultural groups, the Iroquois to the west and the Western Abenaki, another distinct group, to the east. Currently archaeologists do not understand when, where, or why the different groups moved into the Champlain Valley, since boundaries between the Champlain Valley's native groups are impossible to define with the current archaeological data.

Further analysis of the archaeological data collected throughout the valley must be completed in order to better understand each of these groups and how they utilized Lake Champlain and its natural resources. This person should have a strong sense of self and a great love of children and math. The ideal candidate has experience teaching middle school math and seeks a collaborative working environment. Position starts August Come join an innovative team of faculty who are working to develop new models of teaching that serve the students of the 21st-century.

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Lake Champlain: As Centuries Pass

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