|Point Au Roche, NY|
Description: With the signing of Senate Bill Number 927 by President Clinton on March 5th, 1998, some people believe Lake Champlain officially became the sixth great lake in the United States. A line item entered in the bill by Senator Patrick Leahy of Vermont, defined Lake Champlain as one of the great lakes, allowing federal grants to be awarded for research focused on Lake Champlain. Looking at size alone, one might question the merit of such an appellation, for Lake Champlain in terms of surface area is 6% the size of Lake Ontario and only 1.4% the size of Lake Superior. One must concede, however, in terms of historical and commercial importance, Lake Champlain truly is a great lake.
Vessels traveling near the northern end of Lake Champlain must veer to the east at La Roche Reef, just south of Isle La Motte, to avoid shoals. In 1852, Congress appropriated $5,000 for a lighthouse to mark the navigational hazard. 10.4 acres on the New York shore near La Roche Reef were purchased from Nathan Perry for $440 to serve as the site for the Point Au Roche Lighthouse, which was activated in 1858, the same year as its two sister lights at Windmill Point and Crown Point.
The Point Au Roche Lighthouse consisted of an octagonal blue limestone block tower connected to a wooden Cape Cod cottage. One distinguishing characteristic of the three sister towers is the use of trapezoidal panes in their lantern rooms. A sixth-order Fresnel lens produced a fixed white light from atop the 50-foot Point Au Roche tower. With a focal plane of 54 feet above the surface of the lake, the light was visible for thirteen miles.
During the 1930s, the Lighthouse Board automated all the lights of Lake Champlain that were still active. At every lighthouse except Point Au Roche, an automated beacon was placed on a skeletal tower near the now-inactive lighthouse. The automated light at Point Au Roche remained in the tower, but all the lighthouse property, save a 50-foot square lot surrounding the tower, was sold for $2100 in 1934. The keeper’s cottage was also included in the deal, and the new owner, G.C. Oliver, moved the dwelling just north of the tower, where it became a private residence.
Over time, the lake shoreline in front of the tower has eroded away and the masonry of the tower has begun to deteriorate. In fact, a large section of the cornice just beneath the lantern room has fallen from the tower. In 1989, it was determined that the tower was no longer safe, and the light was moved to a buoy on La Roche Reef.
Photo Gallery: 1
Located on Lake Champlain near Point Au Roche State Park, roughly eight miles north of
Plattsburgh. The tower is owned by the Coast Guard, while the dwelling and surrounding property are privately owned. Grounds/dwelling/tower closed.
The tower is owned by the Coast Guard, while the dwelling and surrounding property are privately owned. Grounds/dwelling/tower closed.
Pictures on this page copyright Kraig Anderson, Roger Harwood, used by permission.