Touring the Colchester Reef Lighthouse

Follow us to Vermont to explore the Colchester Reef Light on Colchester Point, Lake Champlain! The United States Lighthouse Serviced decided a lighthouse was needed on Colchester Point in 1869 in order to guide ships through the treacherous “Middle Bunch Reef,” an area that included the Hogback Reef, Colchester Shoals, and Colchester Reef.

Several lighthouses during the 19th Century approved in the New England area were built using identical construction plans. The Colchester Reef Light, Sabin Point, Rose Island and Pomham Rocks were all apart of this group. The lighthouse was designed by architect Albert R. Dow during a nationwide design competition.  The lighthouse on Colchester Point was built in response to the areas growing lumber industry. Several shipments were sent from Canada to Vermont using Lake Champlain’s waterways increasing need for the lighthouse.

In order to withstand the area’s difficult weather the lighthouse was built with a 25 square foot stone foundation, as well as support beams, a tin roof, and slate. The lighthouse’s durability was also enforced with iron rods placed throughout the entire building. Dow’s design was finally complete in 1871, and shortly after using a 6th order Fresnel Lens.

Despite Dow’s durable design efforts, the lighthouse was decommissioned in 1933 due to structural damage from area storms. The United States Lighthouse service auctioned off the lighthouse in 1952, and sold it to Mr. and Mrs. Bessette for just $50.00. The Bessette’s planned to use the timber from the lighthouse in the construction of their new home. A local historian sueded the family to resell the lighthouse to a museum for $1,300 plus the timber supply for their new home. The lighthouse was then moved to the area’s local museum, where it still stands today.

If you have visited the area before, share your photos and experiences with us on our EdgeWater Boat’s Facebook page!