Crossing Lake Champlain

I live in Vermont, however, my family lives in New York. In between the two lands lies this large body of water known as Lake Champlain. The lake is named after Samuel de Champlain, a French soldier and explorer who was the first to explore and map the lake in 1609. This lake makes travel between Vermont and New York a little difficult. A bridge connecting Alburgh, VT with Rouses Point, NY is located at the very top of the state, just a few miles from the Canadian border. At the bottom of the lake, 80 miles to the south, a bridge spans Chimney Point, VT with Crown Point, NY. Both bridges are free, however, if you don’t want to drive scores of miles out of your way to get from A to B there are four ferries that connect the two states.

The first three ferry crossings are part of the Lake Champlain Ferries company, a ferry line established in 1826. The ferry line is a fleet of ten ships (the oldest built in 1947) that cross Lake Champlain at three points on the lake. The longest crossing is between Burlington, VT and Port Kent, NY, crossing time is approximately one hour and the ticket price for embarked cars is (hold onto something) $30 one-way, plus an additional $8.00 for each additional passenger. Motorcycles, on the other hand, cost $10 one-way. The southernmost crossing connects Essex, NY with Charlotte, VT, travel time is 30 minutes and a one way ticket for cars is $10.75, motorcycles cost $7.00.

The northernmost crossing is the most heavily-trafficked, and is the only crossing open 24-hours a day, year-round. Even when the lake is frozen, this crossing employs an ice breaking ship and continues all day and all night, all year long. Terribly convenient! This crossing costs the same as the Essex-Charlotte crossing, but only takes 12-15 minutes. I spend well over a hundred dollars a year on this boat traveling between Grand Isle, VT and Plattsburgh, NY.

The fourth is a historic, cable-driven ferry connecting Shoreham, VT with Ticonderoga, NY. It’s a very small, unique ferry that operates independently of the Lake Champlain Ferries company. The Ticonderoga Ferry lives in the tracks that previous ferries have shared since 1759, and is the oldest cable ferry in the country.

I’ve lived on this lake the majority of my years, on either side and at various points. The ferry crossings have always been a normal part of my travels, yet I’ve never tired of riding these boats. The journey is peaceful and scenic, most of the time anyway. There are times when the waves will pitch and rock the boat pretty vigorously, and while this might be a little unnerving to new passengers no ferry in memory has ever sunk (though one crashed into the pilings at a ferry landing in 2014).