Willsboro Bay State Boat Launch

The Willsboro Bay State Boat Launch is located on Lake Champlain’s Willsboro Bay about three miles north of the hamlet of Willsboro. 

Managed by the State Department of Environment and Conservation, the launch features a hard surface ramp with parking for 100 cars and trailers.  There is also designated wheelchair accessible parking, accessible privy, and pump-out facilities.

See "Don't Miss This When Visiting" below for explanation of the view of the bluffs on the opposite shore and the railroad that runs along them.

Location

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Nearby
Latitude: 44.400583 Longitude: -73.390302 Elevation: 108 ft

Don't Miss This When Visiting

Building the Railroad Line Along Willsboro Bay:  A Remarkable Feat of Engineering

From here, look straight across to the opposite shore of Willsboro Bay, defined by the high bluffs that extend north along the bay for several miles.  Along these bluffs is the main north-south railroad line that links New York City and Albany with Plattsburgh and Montreal. 

Construction of the last section of this rail line, along the western shore of Lake Champlain between Whitehall and Plattsburgh, occurred between 1873 and November 1875. Chartered as the New York & Canada Railroad, this part of the line formed part of the Delaware & Hudson Railroad system.

The section of line along the cliffs above Willsboro Bay, known as the “Red Rocks” stretch, proved to be the most challenging part to build.  It involved blasting away the cliff face to create a narrow shelf on which to place the track. 

Delaware & Hudson historian Jim Shaughnessy best describes how work crews accomplished this:  “. . . the drillers had to be let down 100 feet on ropes from the top of the ledge to prepare the blasts.  When the charges were fired, tons of rock would cascade another hundred feet down into the black depths of Willsboro Bay.  A narrow shelf was carved out for the track and involved a 606-foot tunnel, several high bridges and many deep rock cuts.  Despite the difficulties encountered, this section is one of the most beautiful and thrilling bits of railroad in the Northeast.”  (Quoted from Jim Shaughnessy, Delaware & Hudson:  The History of an Important Railroad Whose Antecedent Was a Canal Network to Transport Coal  (Berkeley, California: Howell-North Books, 1967), 147.  See also pages 134, 146, 148, 149, and 156 for historic photos of trains on the Red Rocks stretch.

Rules And Regulations

The publication titled, New York State Boat Launching Sites: A Directory of State Access and Launching Areas (PDF, 2.96 MB) by the New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation can be accessed from the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation website, http://www.dec.ny.gov/index.html (From the NYSDEC Home Page, http://www.dec.ny.gov/index.html, click on "Outdoor Activities," then click "Boating." On this page is a link to it). Updated recently, the New York State Boat Launching Sites Directory, as it is often called, contains boat launch and retrieval information, some simple boat launching guidelines, information on aquatic invasive species, and a listing of boating access and launching areas available to the public in New York State. If interested in obtaining a hard copy of this publication, send an email to fwfish@gw.dec.state.ny.us and include your name, mailing address and publication you are requesting.

Identify And Describe The Management Organization

New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (NYSDEC), Region 5 Office.

Additional Notes

To get there, take Point Road (Co. Road 27) until you reach Boat Launch Lane. Driving north on Point Road (toward Willsboro Point), the Boat Launch Lane turnoff is on your left just after you pass the point where Farrell Road intersects Point Road. Driving south on Point Road (away from Willsboro Point), turn right onto Boat House Lane just before the point where Farrell Road intersects Point Road.

For information on the Willsboro Bay State Boat Launch, please go to the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation website, http://www.dec.ny.gov/index.html.  Once there, click "Outdoor Activities," then click "Boating, and then click either "Boat Launches" or "Accessible Boat Launches Photo Gallery."  If you click "Boat Launches", it brings up a list of publicly available boat launch sites by county.  For Willsboro Bay and other Essex County boat launch sites, click on "Boat Launch Sites for Essex County."  If you click "Accessible Boat Launches Photo Gallery," it brings up a photo of the Willsboro Bay Boat Launch and includes some general information about this boat launch and its features. 

Fees

no

Tours Are Offered

no

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