The Memorial Day weekend brings the start of the 2014 season at the Chimney Point, Mount Independence, and Hubbardton Battlefield State Historic Sites. The sites open on Saturday, May 24, at 9:30 a.m. and starting at 8:00 a.m. is the annual Early Bird Nature Walk at Mount Independence.
These sites preserve and present Vermont’s significant history in their museums and on their historic grounds. There are also State Historic Sites on the New York State side of Lake Champlain, but they almost never issue announcements to the press.
The Chimney Point State Historic Site on Lake Champlain in Addison commands one of the most strategic on the Lake, important to human beings for over 9,000 years. The site presents the Native American, early French, and early American settlement of the area. The grounds have been restored after the bridge project, and include a short walking trail with interpretive signs and one of the historic piers from the 1929 Lake Champlain Bridge. The special exhibit is What Lies Beneath: 9,000 Years of History at Chimney Point, highlighting the archaeological findings from the 2009-2011 bridge and temporary ferry project. While you’re visiting, take a walk across the Lake Champlain Bridge, which has sidewalks on each side. The site is open Wednesdays through Sundays and Monday holidays, 9:30-5:00. Admission is $5.00 for adults and free for children under 15. 8149 VT Route 17W, Addison 802-759-2412
Orwell’s Mount Independence, a National Historic Landmark named after the Declaration of Independence, was built on Lake Champlain in 1776-77 to protect the American colonies against British invasion from the north. In the museum are state of the art exhibits and Revolutionary War artifacts, ranging from large items such as two huge logs from the Great Bridge across Lake Champlain and a cannon recovered from the lake to fish hooks and fish bones from the Revolution. This year’s special exhibit, “Things with Wings: Birds on the Mount,” features exciting photographs by bird expert Sue Wetmore. Six miles of scenic walking and hiking trails wind past archaeological sites. The award winning Baldwin Trail, with colorful interpretive signage, is suitable for outdoor wheelchairs and strollers. The annual Soldiers Atop the Mount encampment is September 6 and 7, and includes a Baldwin Trail Walkabout with a variety of activity stations. The site is open daily, 9:30 to 5:00. Admission is $5.00 for adults and free for children under 15. 497 Mount Independence Road, Orwell 802-948-2000
The Hubbardton Battlefield State Historic Site is the location of Vermont’s only Revolutionary War battle. It is considered one of the best preserved battlefields in America, retaining most of its original setting. The July 7, 1777, battle weekend, July 5 and 6, has been named a top ten Vermont summer event by the Vermont State Chamber of Commerce. The site is open Thursdays through Sundays and Monday holidays, from 9:30 to 5:00. Admission is $3.00 for adults and free for children under 15. 5696 Monument Hill Road, Hubbardton. 802-273-2282
Other Vermont State-owned Historic Sites opening on May 24 are the President Calvin Coolidge State Historic Site in Plymouth, Justin Smith Morrill Homestead in Strafford, and Old Constitution House in Windsor.
Photo: The Crown Point Bridge with Vermont beyond by John Warren.