Lighthouses of the United States: Vermont

As its name suggests, the U.S. state of Vermont is located in the Green Mountains south of the Canadian border and northeast of New York. This is far from the ocean, but the state has half a dozen lighthouses nonetheless. These lighthouses are on the eastern side of Lake Champlain, which is part of an international waterway connecting the St. Lawrence and Hudson Rivers. The lake drains northward to the St. Lawrence through the Richelieu River, and it is connected to the Hudson by the Champlain Canal.

There are six more lighthouses on the west side of the lake in the state of New York. For almost 70 years none of the Lake Champlain lighthouses was active, but starting in 2002 the Coast Guard has reactivated several lighthouses in each state. Lighthouse Digest has a December 2002 article on the relighting effort.

At one time there were also three lighthouses on the Vermont side of Lake Memphremagog, but none of these towers have survived.

Navigational aids in the United States are operated by the U.S. Coast Guard, but ownership (and sometimes operation) of historic lighthouses has been transferred to local authorities and preservation organizations in many cases. Lighthouses on Lake Champlain are operated by the Coast Guard First District in Boston, Massachusetts.

ARLHS numbers are from the ARLHS World List of Lights. USCG numbers are from Vol. I of the USCG Light List.

General Sources
New England Lighthouses: A Virtual Guide - Vermont
Outstanding historical accounts and photos by Jeremy D'Entremont.
Vermont Lighthouses
Excellent photos and historical accounts posted by Kraig Anderson.
National Maritime Inventory - Vermont
Inventory of New York lighthouse data.
Coast Guard Lighthouses - Vermont
Historic photos and notes posted by the U.S. Coast Guard Historian's office.
Leuchttürme USA auf historischen Postkarten
Historic postcard images of U.S. lighthouses posted by Klaus Huelse.
Lake Memphremagog Lighthouses
Historic postcard images posted by Michel Forand.

Windmill Point Light
Windmill Point Light, Alburg, June 2008
Flickr Creative Commons photo by Jimmy Emerson

Chittenden County (Burlington Area) Lighthouses
**** Colchester Reef (1)
1871 (Albert Dow, designer). Inactive since 1933 (a decorative light is displayed). 35 ft (11 m) square cylindrical wood tower with lantern and gallery, mounted on a 2-story wood keeper's house. The original fog bell is mounted beside the tower. Jimmy Emerson's photo is at right, Anderson also has a good page for the lighthouse, Jim Millard has a fine photo, and Google has a street view and a satellite view. The designer, Albert Dow, was a Vermont native. Numerous lighthouses of his design were built, including Rose Island, Sabin Point, and Pomham Rocks in Rhode Island, Bridgeport Harbor and Penfield Reef in Connecticut, and Esopus Meadows, North Brother Island, North Dumpling, and Long Beach Bar in New York. The lighthouse was closed in 1933, and a battery-powered light was installed on a skeletal tower next to the building. The lighthouse was relocated in 1952 to the Shelburne Museum. The museum's web site includes a page on the lighthouse, and the Coast Guard has a small historic photo of the lighthouse at its original location. In September 2006 a light was lit in the lantern for the first time since 1933. In the spring of 2009, the museum excavated and repaired the foundations of the building. Located on US 7 about 7 miles (11 km) south of Burlington. Site open; lighthouse open daily (admission fee) mid May through October 31. Owner/site manager: Shelburne Museum. ARLHS USA-182.
Juniper Island (2)
1846 (station established 1826). Inactive since 1954. 25 ft (7.5 m) round cast iron tower with lantern and gallery. Tower painted white, lantern black. The original keeper's house burned in 1962. Wood fog bell house preserved. The oldest of the ten surviving Lake Champlain lighthouses, this is also the oldest surviving cast iron lighthouse in the U.S. Anderson has a fine page for the lighthouse, the Coast Guard has a historic photo of the light station, and the lighthouse is seen in a Google aerial view. The present owners completed rebuilding the 2-story brick keeper's house in summer 2003, and by 2010 they had restored and repainted the light tower; Lynn and Tony Querrey have a photo (almost halfway down the page). This lighthouse won't be reactivated, however, because trees nearby have grown tall enough to obscure its light. Located on Juniper Island, about 5 mi (8 km) west southwest of Burlington. Site and tower closed. Owner/site manager: private. ARLHS USA-410.
Colchester Reef Light
Colchester Reef Light, Shelburne, June 2008
Flickr Creative Commons photo by Jimmy Emerson
Juniper Island (4?)
2003 (station established 1826). Active; focal plane 125 ft (38 m); white flash every 4 s. Approx. 40 ft (12 m) square cylindrical skeletal tower. Anderson has a photo, Jim Millard has a view from the lake, and Google has an aerial view. Located a short distance southwest of the historic lighthouse. Site and tower closed. Owner/site manager: private. USCG 1-39710.
Burlington Breakwater South (1) (replica)
2003 (replica of 1857 lighthouse). Active. 26 ft (8 m) square pyramidal wood tower with a small square lantern. Lighthouse painted white. Anderson's page has additional photos, Lighthouse Digest has a photo by Shirin Pagels, and Google has an aerial view. Like the north light, this tower was completed in September 2003. Lighthouse Digest has D'Entremont's story on the reconstruction. The original tower was destroyed by a storm in 1876 and replaced by a larger tower; the Coast Guard has a historic photo of the second light. Located on the breakwater near Perkins Pier, just south of the ferry terminal. Accessible only by boat (the breakwater does not connect to the shore); there's a good view from ferries between Burlington and Port Kent, New York. Site open, tower closed. Owner/site manager: City of Burlington. ARLHS USA-1106; USCG 1-39680.
Burlington Breakwater North (2) (replica)
2003 (replica of 1890 lighthouse; station established 1857). Active; focal plane 35 ft (11 m); white flash every 2.5 s. 35 ft (11 m) square pyramidal wood tower with lantern and gallery. Fog horn (2 s blast every 15 s). Lighthouse painted white; lantern dome painted red. Rob Friesel's photo is at right, Anderson has a good page for the lighthouse, Lighthouse Digest has one of D'Entremont's photos of the replica, the Coast Guard has a historic photo of the original lighthouse, and Google has an aerial view. A keeper's house built for this station, but never occupied by a keeper, was relocated to Archibald Street onshore and is used as a private residence. The lighthouse, which replaced a 35 ft (11 m) skeletal tower, was completed in September 2003. Located on a short detached breakwater north of the ferry terminal in downtown Burlington. Accessible only by boat. Site open, tower closed. Owner/site manager: City of Burlington. ARLHS USA-1105; USCG 1-39615.
[Colchester Reef (3)]
1952 (station established 1871). Active; focal plane 51 ft (16 m); white flash every 4 s. Square skeletal tower mounted on the crib of the historic Colchester Reef lighthouse (see below). The tower carries diamond-shaped daymarks painted in a green and white checkerboard pattern. A closeup photo is available, Anderson has a photo, and Google has a satellite view. Also, the Coast Guard has a small historic photo of the original light station. The lighthouse was relocated in 1952 to the Shelburne Museum south of Burlington (see below). Located about 1500 yards (1370 m) off Colchester Point, north of Burlington; should be easily visible from shore. Owner/site manager: U.S. Coast Guard. ARLHS USA-182H; USCG 1-39540.

Burlington Breakwater North Light, October 2006
Flickr Creative Commons photo
by Rob Friesel

Grande Isle County (Northern Lake Champlain) Lighthouses
Isle La Motte (1)
1829 (inactive since 1856). 2-story stone house. A light was displayed from a second story window until a stone beacon was built in 1856. Site closed. Owner/site manager: private.
Isle La Motte (3)
1881 (station established 1829). Reactivated (inactive 1933-2002); focal plane 46 ft (14 m); white flash every 4 s. 25 ft (7.5 m) round cast iron tower with lantern and gallery; 300 mm lens. Painted red years ago, the tower has faded to a faint rose color; the lantern is more freshly painted red. Fog bell (inactive). A sibling of Ten Pound Island Light in Massachusetts. The original 1-1/2 story wood keeper's house is now a private residence. The light was moved to a nearby skeletal tower in 1933, but the Coast Guard returned the light to the lighthouse on 12 October 2002. Jimmy Emerson's photo is at right, Anderson has an excellent page with good photos, Marinas.com has aerial photos, and Google has a satellite view. Located on La Brecque Road at the northern end of Isle La Motte. The island is connected to the Vermont shore of the lake by a bridge off VT 129. Site and tower closed. Owner/site manager: private. ARLHS USA-405; USCG 1-39165.
Isle La Motte (4)
1933. Inactive since 2002. Approx. 40 ft (12 m) square skeletal tower with an enclosed equipment shelter in the base. Tower painted black, equipment shelter white. D'Entremont has a photo, and Google has a satellite view. In March 2014, the Coast Guard announced it would remove the skeletal tower, unless someone wants to take ownership of it. Located adjacent to the historic lighthouse. Site and tower closed.
Windmill Point
1858. Reactivated (inactive 1931-2002); focal plane 52 ft (16 m); white flash every 4 s. 40 ft (12 m) octagonal limestone tower with lantern and gallery, attached by a passageway to a 1-1/2 story granite keeper's house; 300 mm lens. Originally red, the lantern has faded to orange. Jimmy Emerson's photo is at the top of this page, Anderson's page also has nice photos, Huelse has a historic postcard view, the Coast Guard has a historic photo, and Google has a satellite view. The lighthouse, a sibling of the Point aux Roches Light in New York, marks the northern end of the the lake and the entrance to the Richelieu River. The light was moved to a skeletal tower in 1931, but with the cooperation of the owner the Coast Guard returned the light to the lighthouse on 7 August 2002. The skeletal tower remains. The light station is a private residence. Located at the end of Windmill Point Road, off US 2, opposite Rouses Point, New York. Site and tower closed. Owner/site manager: private. ARLHS USA-895; USCG 1-39130.
Isle La Motte Light
Isle La Motte Light, Isle La Motte, June 2008
Creative Commons photo by Jimmy Emerson
Windmill Point (2)
1931. Inactive since 2002 and largely demolished in 2013. Approx. 60 ft (18 m) square skeletal tower with an enclosed equipment shelter in the base. Tower painted black, equipment shelter white. Anderson has a photo, and Google has a satellite view. In November 2013 a contractor for the Coast Guard demolished most of the tower; property owner Rob Clark slavaged the base and mounted the upper portion on it to create a miniature version of the original. Located adjacent to the historic lighthouse. Site and tower closed.

Information available on lost lighthouses:

  • Maxfield Point (1879-?), Lake Memphremagog. Forand has a historic postcard view. ARLHS USA-1039.
  • Newport Wharf (1879-?), Lake Memphremagog. ARLHS USA-1040.
  • Whipple Point (Newport Stake) (1879-?), Lake Memphremagog. Forand has a postcard view of the original lighthouse, and another historic photo that shows that lighthouse collapsing into the lake in 1906. There is still a light at this location, off the west side of the lake north of Newport; Google has a satellite view. It is the only USCG-maintained light on the lake. ARLHS USA-425; USCG 1-40100.

Notable faux lighthouses:

  • Newport (2011), Lake Memphremagog. This lighthouse is not intended as a navigational aid; it serves as the ticket booth for tours of the lake on the excursion boat Newport Belle. A closeup and another photo is available, and Google has a street view and a satellite view.

Adjoining pages: North: Southern Québec | West: Upstate New York

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Posted 2001. Checked and revised April 16, 2014. Lighthouses: 10. Site copyright 2014 Russ Rowlett and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.