Visiting Rouses Point, New York: With Its Marina Facilities on Lake Champlain
Its militarily strategic waters scrutinized by President James Monroe and Secretary of State Daniel Webster
[This article deals principally with some geographical and historical features of the village of Rouses Point, on Lake Champlain. For information about the services of the marinas cited, contact should be made directly with their respective managements.]
The village of Rouses Point, in New York's Clinton County, is in a unique location. To the north, immediately adjacent to Rouses Point is the municipality of Lacolle, Quebec, Canada, over the 45th Parallel. To the east, across Lake Champlain, in the State of Vermont, is the village of Alburgh. Thus in multiple ways Rouses Point is at a geographical extremity.
As such, historically it has been defined by the waters of Lake Champlain., being the final berth on the west bank of the Lake prior to its waters passing into Canada and the Richelieu River.
A number of marinas are in service at Rouses Point; these include Gaines Marina (1) and Barcombs Marina (2), both of which supply various services to the boating community.
Interestingly, the world's second commercial steamboat was launched on Lake Champlain, with Rouses Point said to have been its first port of call.
Thus already two centuries ago, Rouses Point was a busy locality; US President James Monroe is reputed to have spent the night in 1818 at the house of Edward Thurber (3).
A note on the name of the village is also interesting: the person commemorated in the name was not — as it would at first appear — one Rouse, but rather, Jacques Roux, from French Canada, whose support for the American Patriots in the War of Independence led him to fight alongside them. Thus, 'Rouses' is really an Anglicized version of the perhaps orthographically more awkward 'Roux's'.
During the War of 1812, fortifications were built at what was believed to be the border between the United States and Lower Canada; and inspection of these fortifications were made by President James Monroe in 1817. However, further calculation found that the site of these fortifications which dated from the War of 1812 were slightly over the border in Lower Canada. Thus, after US Secretary of State Daniel Webster, serving in the Administration of US President John Tyler, signed the Webster-Ashburton Treaty in 1842, the adjustment of the border between the United States and British North America was settled so that a further fort was built at what was known as Island Point.
While scarcely believable now, in the 1840s it was believed that New York was vulnerable to attack from British North America, and so what was already a nationwide series of defensive forts known as the Third System (4) was extended to Island Point, close to the village of Rouses Point, on the site of the fortifications dating from the War of 1812. Thus, from 1846 onwards, what became known as Fort Montgomery (after American General Richard Montgomery who served in the American War of Independence) was built up in to a strongly fortified military complex with a moat.
The expected attack did indeed come from nearby British North America — but on the other side of Lake Champlain at St. Albans, Vermont, in October 1864, when Confederate forces based on British territory attempted to seize the town.
Fort Montgomery (5) was sold by the United States government in 1926, as the threat of water-borne attack had long receded. It passed into private hands, and has in recent years been the subject of negotiations involving the Preservation League of New York State. While not open to the public, some of the substantial remains of the Fort are visible from the Rouses Point Bridge / Korean War Veterans Memorial Bridge to the south.
Thus it may be seen that the military significance of the waters around Rouses Point has waned, but waters still strongly define the locality.
Another significant historical note is that the US Border Inspection Station at Rouses Point, New York — at the Rouses Point–Lacolle 223 Border Crossing — a Georgian Revival building by Lewis A. Simon and James A. Wetmore, dating from 1913, was added in 2014 to the US National Register of Historic Places.
April 13, 2019
(1) See also: https://www.gainesmarina.com/
(2) See also: http://www.barcombsmarina.com/
(3) Edward Thurber's residence at Rouses Point was recorded as being a frame house, built by the owner.
(4) Among these Third System forts were included Fort Sumter, Charleston, South Carolina — famous in the American Civil War — and Fort Alcatraz, California — later renowned as a high security prison.
(5) See also: http://www.historiclakes.org/explore/Montgomery.html
Some sourcing: Wikipedia.
Also worth seeing
Various localities in the surrounding Clinton County, New York, may be good bases to explore Adirondack Park.
Malone, New York (distance: 50.1 miles / 80.6 kilometres); here, US Vice President William Wheeler (cited by John F. Kennedy in 'Profiles in Courage', 1956), a historic resident of Malone, is commemorated; there is also some significant ecclesiastical architecture.
In Alburgh, Vermont (distance: 7.3 miles / 11.7 kilometres) the Welcome Center on Route 2 has some interesting historical plaques relating to Samuel de Champlain, the beginnings of the state of Vermont and a Cold War missile site.
At Fairfield, Vermont (distance: 35.5 miles / 57.1 kilometres) is commemorated the President Arthur State Historic Site, where Chester A. Arthur was born in 1829.
Montreal, Quebec, Canada (distance: 46.3 miles / 74.5 kilometres). The architectural and cultural attractions of Montreal are too numerous to mention here, but of special note, among many others, are the domed Bonsecours Market (Marché Bonsecours), dating from 1847, which was a venue used to house the Parliament of United Canada, prior to Confederation. The Notre-Dame Basilica (Basilique Notre-Dame de Montréal ) was built mainly between 1824 and 1829; many Montrealers attend annual performances of Handel's 'Messiah' there. The Olympic Stadium (Stade Olympique) in the Hochelaga-Maisonneuve district, used for the 1976 Olympics, has the world's tallest inclined tower, at 175 metres.
How to get there:
Plattsburgh International Airport (distance to Rouses Point : 30.5 miles / 49.1 kilometres), where car rental is available, is served by a variety of airlines, including US Air, which flies to Boston, with many North American connections. I-87 and I-89 extend to the US- Canada border on the New York and Vermont sides of Lake Champlain respectively. Please check with the airline or your travel agent for up to date information. You are advised to refer to appropriate consular sources for any special border crossing arrangements which may apply to citizens of certain nationalities.
MJFenn is an independent travel writer based in Ontario, Canada.
Other of my hubpages may also be of interest
- Visiting the Korean Veterans' Memorial Bridge, Alburgh, Vermont: Scenic and Historic Area of Multipl
The Korean Veterans' Memorial Bridge crosses Lake Champlain, and is dedicated to those who served in a pivotal conflict several decades ago that is now sometimes forgotten.
- Visiting Malone, New York: Remembering U.S. Vice President William A. Wheeler
At Malone, New York, the State of New York's Education Department erected an historical panel at the former residence of United States Vice President William Wheeler, who served in the Hayes Administration from 1877 until 1881, and later cited by Joh