The historian Ralph Nading Hill proclaimed Lake Champlain “the most historic body of water in the western hemisphere: a silver dagger from Canada to the heartland of the American colonies that forged the destiny of France and England in America, and the United States.”
For thousands of years, Lake Champlain offered a faster, and often safer, means of travel than the dense forests alongside it. Abundant wildlife and edible plants sustained semi-nomadic people and passing travelers. Eventually this long narrow lake, bounded by Canada to the north, the Adirondack Mountains to the west and the Green Mountains to the east, became the northern gateway of European settlement into New York and New England. As a corridor for explorers and settlers, the Champlain Valley connected the Dutch and English settlements in New York City, Albany, and Schenectady to the St. Lawrence River, Canada and the Atlantic. As the scene of many battles to control the “Wilderness Empire,” this 120-mile-long lake shaped the fate of two great nations.
Today, the border country plays a central role in trade with our neighbors to the north, and offers a delightful place to explore our shared history. This guidebook links stories to places so readers can find just the right spot to help them imagine the events that shaped the landscape they see before them.