Visiting the Korean Veterans' Memorial Bridge, Alburgh, Vermont: Scenic and Historic Area of Multiple Boundaries
Spanning an expanse of water between the Green Mountains and the Adirondacks
While the Korean Veterans' Memorial Bridge carries Route 2, linking Vermont and the New York state line on Lake Champlain (1), the majority of waters which the Bridge spans is located in the State of Vermont. Indeed, a commemorative monument on the bridge, near the Vermont shore, was erected by Vermont veterans of the war being commemorated.
The wording on this simple, grey stone monument reads as follows:
Korean Veterans' Memorial Bridge
Korean War 1950-1953
"They were called and they served"
'All Vermont veterans'.
Around the memorial area is an extensive parking lot, accessible only from the bridge itself, from which may be obtained scenic views of Lake Champlain and its Vermont shore.
The immediate area around the Bridge is one which is characterized by boundaries and a sense of historic transition. On the eastern, Vermont shore of the Bridge is Alburgh, forming part of Grand Isle County, Vermont, which in more ways than one is interesting geographically. Grand Isle County is not contiguous with the remainder of the State of Vermont: it is linked to it, and to the New York shore of Lake Champlain, by either bridges or ferries. Indeed, a peninsula within the northern part of the County, in which Alburgh is located, known as the Alburgh Tongue, is contiguous with Canada, rather than to any territory of the United States. (When I realized this state of affairs, my mind went to the geographic situation of Point Roberts, in Washington State, which is actually connected by land to British Columbia, Canada, rather to than any United States territory. A few other, similar geographic 'anomalies' also exist along the vast United States - Canada border.
On the New York side of the Bridge lies Clinton County.
Thus within a very few kilometres of the Bridge are two US States and a Canadian province, intersected north-south by the natural barrier of Lake Champlain and east-west by the US - Canada border. One can thus see how easily, long — before the existence of this and other bridges — the island and peninsula features within Lake Champlain contributed to Vermonters' independent-mindedness. The flat expanses of these features make for a natural contrast between Vermont's Green Mountains and New York's Adirondacks.
On a day when I took the photographs, the waters of Lake Champlain were as proverbially calm as a millpond, and the grey reflections of the sky and the shore were seen in the waters. It is almost surreal to think that the historic and human concepts of criss-crossing county, state/province and international boundaries form an abstract complement to the blurred, natural images formed by the reflections in the lake.
April 30, 2012
(1) Named for French explorer Samuel de Champlain (1575-1635).
Also worth seeing
In Alburgh, Vermont, itself, 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: 49.3 kilometres) is commemorated the President Arthur State Historic Site, where Chester A. Arthur was born in 1829.
Rouses Point , New York (distance: 8.4 kilometres from the Downtown part of Alburgh) is a scenically located village with a marina, situated close to the Korean Veterans' Memorial Bridge and the Canadian border (Montreal , Quebec, is 77.5 kilometres north of Rouses Point).
How to get there:
Plattsburgh International Airport (distance to Alburgh : 60.5 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.