Surprising History: Lake Champlain Bridge

History is a funny thing. Start anywhere, anytime, and start researching. Sooner or later facts and people start popping up that you might have thought had nothing to do with the original subject, but yet there they are. And that’s when History really comes alive.

Lake Champlain Bridge, 2012
Lake Champlain Bridge, Memorial Day 2012

Since 1929 a bridge has spanned the lower end of Lake Champlain and connected Crown Point, New York, with Chimney Point, Vermont. The original bridge, known as the Champlain Bridge or Crown Point Bridge, was demolished because of safety concerns. Two years later the new improved Lake Champlain Bridge opened, and just recently the Lake Champlain Bridge Community and citizens from surrounding towns held a two day celebration, complete with an “Old Time Hometown Grand Parade”.

The Lake Champlain Bridge Community based the events of the re-opening celebration, held May 19th and 20th of this year, on those that occurred during the original opening celebration, March 26th, 1929. It’s at this point that History pops up and says “Hey, check this out!”

The Governor of New York in 1929 was none other than Franklin Delano Roosevelt, just four years before he became president. Both Governor Roosevelt and Vermont Governor John Weeks attended the celebration events. The two men shook hands and cut a ribbon for the official bridge opening. This was before FDR was in a wheelchair, and any pictures taken at the event show him standing.

But amazingly, History has given us more than photographs. A man by the name of Allen Beach was at there as well, and he filmed the event. The following video contains excerpts of the celebration, but it also contains rare footage of FDR standing and walking. Check it out at about the 50 second mark:

So what do we learn from this? Never to throw out old video footage? Maybe it’s just a reminder that History isn’t static; that a man known best for his wheelchair did in fact once walk; that what we think we know about History is often never complete.

Go See It!

The new Lake Champlain Bridge is open for business, 24 hours a day. It carries NY Route 185 and Vermont Route 17 over Lake Champlain between NY Routes 9N/22 and Vermont Route 125. Pedestrians and bicycles are also welcome. There are three ferries that also cross Lake Champlain connecting the two states, but this is the only bridge.

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