The Crown Point Road Association

History of the Crown Point Road

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The Route of the Historic Military Road

A vital military supply link between Fort No. 4 at Charlestown, New Hampshire and the Fort at Crown Point on Lake Champlain, the trace of The Crown Point Road is shown at left as an overlay on a modern map of Vermont showing present highways and villages.

How is the route of an ancient military road which has been lost in forest and field for over 250 years traced? Click here.

  Searching for an Ancient Road

The Crown Point Road
1759 - 2014

Vermont's First Interstate Highway is over 250 Years Old!

More than Two Hundred Fifty years ago, in 1759, the British government surveyed, constructed, and paid for Vermont's first interstate highway. Named the Crown Point Road, it was built during the French and Indian War following England's defeat of French forces at Forts Carrilon and St. Frederic on Lake Champlain.

Commanding General Jeffrey Amherst, wishing to continue the campaign into Canada, was in desperate need of fresh troops and supplies.

Because the established supply route from the Atlantic ports by way of Albany and Lake George was long and difficult, Amherst needed a more direct route.

For centuries past, Native Americans had followed the waterways leading from Canada to the coast. One of the most-traveled routes connected Lake Champlain and the Connecticut River following Otter Creek and the Black River.  By a stroke of fortune this footpath led from Amherst�s strategic position at Crown Point, New York directly to an important military post, Fort No. 4 on the Connecticut River.

The General ordered his engineers to devise a plan to improve the route, and Captain John Stark, commanding Rogers Rangers, then cut and marked the road. The road construction was primitive but served its purpose for the remainder of the French and Indian War.

During the American Revolution, Colonial Militias, schooled by the British during the previous war, turned the tables on them and utilized the road to their own advantage, contributing to the ultimate British defeat.

With the arrival of peace, perhaps the greatest contribution of the Crown Point Road to Vermont history was as a conduit for the great influx of settlers coming to the (then) New Hampshire Grants to establish towns and homesteads.

Today, it is possible to walk or drive a car on many remaining sections of this ancient road, unique in American history.
 


The Road Builders

General Jeffrey Amherst

When General Jeffrey Amherst decided to build his magnificent stone fort at Crown Point on the site of the ruins of the French Fort St. Frederic, he needed supplies, munitions and manpower in a hurry. This was especially in preparation for the invasion of Canada but also for the construction of the fort which he saw as essential to the defense of the British colonies and as an encouragement to the development of the wilderness.

Since the supply route then currently in use - by way of the Hudson River and Lake George with numerous portages - was slow and cumbersome Amherst decided to utilize a well-traveled Indian trail leading from Lake Champlain across Vermont (the New Hampshire Grants then) to the Connecticut River where there was a settlement at Charlestown NH and direct connections to the Atlantic seacoast.

Captain John StarkAround the eighth of August 1759, Captain John Stark and 200 members of Rogers Rangers set out from Crown Point to cut and mark a road to Fort No. 4 at Charlestown NH. Stark, already well acquainted with the culture of the Indians, was familiar with their trails which often led from Canada to the Connecticut River following smaller streams through the wilderness. The Crown Point Road would essentially follow a path laid down by the Indians along the Otter Creek and Black River.

Stark and his men returned to Crown Point on September 8 or 9 after roughing out a road. On October 27, 1759, the road building resumed under Major John Hawks and a crew of 250. After suffering severe hardships such as hunger, sickness and desertion these men arrived at No. 4 on November 16.

Lieutenant John Small of the British 42nd Regiment of Foot, the Black Watch, sought to modify and improve the route of the military road. Early in the winter of 1759 he traveled the road and explored alternate routes with a group of provincials. He reported to General Amherst in December of that year that "a way suitable for carriages" had been found. His recommendations for improvement of the easterly route of the road were accepted by Amherst who responded by ordering the road "to be cutt over anew, according to a sketch which Lt. Small is bearer of ...". 
A Short Biography of Lt. John SmallClick Here for a Short Biography of Lt. John Small

In 1760, a New Hampshire regiment of some 800 men under Col. John Goffe was ordered to Crown Point to take part in the invasion of Canada. While on their way they had orders to improve the road. The men worked on the road until arriving at the Black River Ponds at which time they were ordered to abandon the work and hurry to Crown Point.

Over time the road was improved in some sections, re-routed in others and sometimes abandoned by disuse but the route constructed by these stalwarts during the French and Indian War also served the country and Vermont well during the American Revolution and afterwards during times of settlement.
 


Origins of the Crown Point Road Markers

By Martin J. Howe

I n the latter part of the last century [1800's] several markers were placed by individuals to mark the route of the road. These supplemented the original milestones set by the builders of the road. Only two of these crude markers [No.s 18 and 22], both in Weathersfield, now remain.

The Daughters of the American Revolution performed a valuable service in the period 1909-1914 when they were instrumental in placing a number of granite markers in many towns along the route of the Crown Point Road. At about the same time, additional markers of the same size and material were erected by several of the towns along the road. These markers were placed on traveled highways at points where the highways intersected the Crown Point Road or at points as near as possible to the Crown Point Road. On many of these markers an arrow engraved on top indicates the general direction of the Crown Point Road. These arrows are not reliable in all cases as several of the markers have been moved from their original positions because of road construction. In later years the Crown Point Road Association has erected numerous markers along the old route. The markers are maintained by CPRA members with assistance from adjoining landowners and veterans organizations.

Archives

Archives at the Middlebury College Library

During the years of its existence the Crown Point Road Association has amassed a considerable archive of historical information, early and pertinent maps, and many other articles of interest relating to the Crown Point Road. Since the Association has no central permanent location, arrangements have been made with the Middlebury College Library to be the repository for our archives as a part of their Vermont Collection. Librarian Hans Raum is in charge of our material and he has made recent progress for indexing the Association archives. Click on the link above to review the indexed archives and follow the contact information listed in order to make arrangements for further study of the cataloged materials. A great resource for further research.

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