When engineers determined the old Lake Champlain Bridge was unsafe and needed to be replaced, it seemed like the regrettable end of a historic landmark. The project, though, has led to a major archaeological discovery.
Scientists have found what appears to be a nearly 300-year-old French fort. The fort’s discovery would be significant in its own right, but it would also represent the first physical evidence of a substantial French settlement known to have existed on the Vermont shore of Lake Champlain starting in the 1730s.
“It’s a hugely exciting find — one of the great and exciting finds of a lifetime really,” said Elsa Gilbertson, administrator for the Chimney Point State Historic Site, where the apparent fort was discovered.
“You would be hard pressed to find a more significant archaeological site in Vermont,” said John Crock, director of the University of Vermont’s Consulting Archaeology Program, which conducted the dig in cooperating with the Vermont Agency of Transportation and Division for Historic Preservation.