Lake Champlain is a natural freshwater lake in North America along the borders of New York and Vermont and partially across the United States-Canada border in the province of Quebec. The lake was named for the French explorer Samuel de Champlain, who discovered it in 1609.
A region of large freshwater lakes[change | edit source]
Lake Champlain is one of a large number of large lakes spread in an arc from Labrador through the northern United States and into the Northwest Territories of Canada. Although it is much smaller than the Great Lakes of Ontario, Erie, Huron, Superior, or Michigan, Lake Champlain is a large body of fresh water. Approximately 1269 km² (490 square miles) in area, the lake is about 201 km (125 miles) long, and 23 km (14 miles) across at its widest point. The maximum depth is about 400 feet. It contains about 80 islands, including an the entire country of Grand Isle County in Vermont.
Colonial America and the Revolutionary War[change | edit source]
In the colonial times, Lake Champlain gave an easily blocked water (or, in winter, ice) passage between the Saint Lawrence and the Hudson Valleys. Boats and sledges were usually preferable to the unpaved and frequently mud-bound roads of the time. The northern tip of the lake at Saint-Jean-sur-Richelieu, Quebec (St. John in colonial times) is a short distance from Montreal. The southern tip at Whitehall (Skenesborough in colonial times) is a short distance from Saratoga, Glens Falls, and Albany, New York.
Forts at Ticonderoga and Crown Point (Fort St. Frederic) controlled passage of the lake in colonial times. Important battles were fought at Ticonderoga in 1758 and 1777. A important naval battle was fought in 1776 at Valcour Island: in the Battle of Valcour Island, Benedict Arnold delayed British ships enough to prevent the fall of these forts until the following year, allowing the Continental Army to grow stronger and allowing the later victory at Saratoga.