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Commemorating the Bridge

Lake Champlain Bridge Logo

This website is a portal to an extraordinary amount of information on the 1929 Lake Champlain Bridge. Extensive records were kept on the design, construction and operation of the bridge.  The opening day ceremony in August 1929 drew a crowd of 40,000 people and was well documented.  In fact, all aspects of the history of the bridge were well recorded in numerous newspaper stories and photographs.

After the bridge was demolished, a commemoration program to preserve the memory of the bridge was developed using various formats and media. All commemoration materials are available through this the website. The following sections provide a brief summary and link to each of these materials.

Resource Guide

Cover of the Historic Resource GuideThis 65-page Resource Guide summarizes the location and content of historic source material, such as bridge reports, letters, engineering drawings, photographs, postcards, newspaper stories, brochures, and artifacts found at 16 key locations in both New York and Vermont. These locations include state archives, local, state and university libraries, government agencies, and museums. There are also numerous photographs and documents in private collections.

 

 


Thumbnails of 22 people who were interviewed for the oral history of the bridge

Oral histories

Twenty-two individuals with a connection to the 1929 Lake Champlain Bridge were interviewed to record some of their memories of the bridge. All of these oral history interviews are available on video and in text format. Among the interviewees are people who attended the 1929 opening day celebration, toll collectors, business people, local residents, historic preservationists, and engineers.


Interpretive displays

A series of interpretive exhibits of bridge artifacts, memorabilia, panels and signs that tell the Lake Champlain Bridge story have been developed for five sites – three very close to the bridge and two Port Henry, NY locations that are within sight of the bridge. Exhibits will be installed soon at these sites:

Photo of Lake Champlain Visitor Center New York

Lake Champlain Visitors Center (the Toll House)
814 Bridge Road
Crown Point, NY
Visitors Center: The largest Lake Champlain Bridge exhibit is located here. Open year round, an entire room is devoted to the bridge exhibit and includes memorabilia from the building’s former use as a bridge superintendent’s residence and toll collection office during the toll era. Since 1993, it serves as the Lake Champlain Visitors Center, staffed by the Lake Placid/Essex County Visitors Bureau. 

Photo of Chimney Point State Historic Site Vermont

Chimney Point State Historic Site
8149 VT Route 17W
Addison, VT
Chimney Point: This site has displays indoors in the early American tavern building and on its grounds. During removal of the 1929 Lake Champlain Bridge, remains and artifacts from the 1731 French fort were discovered – a valuable archeological find.  Outdoor exhibits trace the 9,000 years of human habitation at Chimney Point and include the only salvaged bridge pier.

Photo of Crown Point State Historic Site New York

Crown Point State Historic Site
21 Grandview Drive
Crown Point, NY
Crown Point State Historic Site: A pathway with interpretive signs about the 1929 Lake Champlain Bridge runs beside the stone remains of Fort St. Frédéric and passes under the bridge, next to the lake’s shoreline, to the Crown Point Campground.

Photos of Crown Point Lighthouse New York

Crown Point Public Campground
784 Bridge Road
Crown Point, NY  

Crown Point Public Campground: Several interpretive displays about the 1929 Lake Champlain Bridge are situated along a pathway, beside the lake’s shoreline, leading to the Crown Point State Historic Site.

Photos of Iron Center Museum New York

The Iron Center
16 Park Place
Port Henry, NY
The Iron Center: One of the few pieces of salvaged steel from the 1929 Lake Champlain Bridge is featured on the grounds of the Iron Center. Iron tailings, a by-product from the nearby iron mines, were used in the concrete piers of the 1929 Lake Champlain Bridge.

Photo of Pier 3 and Lake Champlain with bridge New York

Port Henry Public Dock
Powerhouse Park
Port Henry, NY
Port Henry Dock: The view of the 1929 Lake Champlain Bridge from Port Henry, especially at night, was a familiar and treasured part of the landscape. The darkness of the lake horizon once the bridge was demolished was brightened by the hope of a new bridge, whose arch was built in a marina behind the Port Henry dock, floated across the lake, and lifted to the new bridge in August 2009. This site offers stunning views.

 


Film shorts

Six short films focusing on various aspects of the life of the Lake Champlain Bridge were developed for exhibit media players. Topics depicted are:

  1. The History of the Crossing  – The connection between Chimney Point  and Crown Point has been important for Native Americans for 9,000 years,  was strategic militarily for the French and English, and remains a vital transportation link in modern times. View the video
  2. Construction of the 1929 Lake Champlain Bridge – The 1929 bridge took only 15 months to build, without the aid of computer drafting and sophisticated construction equipment available today. How did they do it, especially working through harsh Adirondack winter weather? View the video.
  3. A Design Inspired by its Landscape – The Lake Champlain Bridge was the first of its kind, serving as a prototype for bridge building in the United States. View the Video
  4. The Lake Champlain Bridge: A Toll Tale – A story of toll collection, told through the voices of those who collected people’s money, gave out travel advice and befriended the people who used the bridge daily. View the video.
  5. A Unifying Force – The bridge has knit the region together since the 1920s. Historians recall collaboration to build it. Fast forward to 2009: how was it possible to build a new bridge and restore the crossing in just two years? View the Video
  6. The Magic of the Bridge – Why was this bridge so special? Many who knew the bridge speak about how it fit perfectly in the region’s landscape and how it held a place in people’s hearts. View the video.

Documentary

A documentary film, More Than Steel: The Lake Champlain Bridge Story, tells the story of the 1929 Lake Champlain Bridge through the voices of people closely connected to it...historic preservationists, engineers and the public officials charged with responding to the loss of this key transportation link. It documents the history of the bridge, its construction, engineering significance, and its use.

The film has footage from the 1929 Opening Day ceremony and features people who remember attending as children. It captures why the Lake Champlain Bridge was so special and what it meant to the region.


Popular history book

A richly illustrated book, Spanning the Decades: The Lake Champlain Bridge Story, has been written to tell the story of the historic Lake Champlain Bridge from the importance of the Lake Champlain crossing throughout history, the building of the 1929 bridge, and its impact on the region and influence on bridge design, to the loss of the iconic structure and the building of a new Lake Champlain Bridge.

This colorful publication is filled with photographs, maps, architectural drawings, newspaper accounts, and personal stories that bring the bridge story to life for all audiences.


Historic American Engineering Record

An Historic American Engineering Record (HAER) on the 1929 Lake Champlain Bridge was developed and will reside in the United States Library of Congress as a lasting description of this historic structure. Download report and appendices below.

This report includes information on the planning, design and construction of the bridge, including architectural plans, photographs and drawings. The HAER has numerous photographs of the 1929 Opening Day ceremony, describes its operation by the Lake Champlain Bridge Commission, and why it was an historically significant structure.

Complete HAER report and appendices

HAER report only (no appendices)

Appendix 1. Historic Images of the Lake Champlain Bridge

Appendix 2. 2009-2010 Digital Photographs of the Lake Champlain Bridge

Appendix 3. 2009 Inspection Photographs by the New York State Dept. of Transportation

Appendix 4. Fay, Spofford and Thorndike, Engineers, Contract and Information Drawings

Engineering and Mapping plates (not included in complete HAER report)

Historic American Engineering Record (HAER) Large Format Photographic Documentation