45th Parallel Towns: Alburgh, Vermont

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Alburgh, Vermont

A 45th Parallel Town

45th Parallel Town sign Alburgh, Vermont

Alburgh, Vermont
A 45th Parallel Town
Photo by Mary Fortin

Alburgh, Vermont is the only 45th Parallel Town located in Vermont’s Grand Isle County, and is the western-most of Vermont’s 45th parallel towns.

Alburgh offers the only land route (via bridges) between New York and Vermont north of Crown Point, New York and Addison, Vermont. Unlike the other four towns in the county (Isle La Motte, North Hero, Grand Isle and South Hero) which are on islands, Alburgh is a peninsula projecting southward from Canada into Lake Champlain. Like the other four towns, it has a considerably higher percentage of lakeshore property than other towns on the Lake, making it popular for summer homes and camps.

What’s in a Name?

Ira Allen and 64 associates are named on the charter, but it was Allen who paid the fees and it was always considered “his” town, so it is reasonable to accept that the name is a contraction of Allenburgh or Allensburgh.

The name was changed to Alburg in 1891 on recommendation of the United States Board on Geographic Names, which for the sake of standardization, determined that all municipal names ending in ”-burgh” were to be changed to ‘-burg”. Other Vermont towns affected were Enosburgh, Ferrisburgh and Irasburg. In 2006, a majority of Alburgh voters approved changing the spelling of the town’s name back to Alburgh.

Pronunciation?

Most residents pronounce the “Al” as in Allen,” and this is the generally accepted pronunciation, although there are some who pronounce it as in “ball”.

History

In 1734, much of the land had been granted by the French in Canada. After the British victory in the French and Indian War, those titles were passed to Henry Caldwell and later to his son. This later led to disputes between the Republic of Vermont, the United States and Canada over the rights of various claimants. Ownership was eventually confirmed to the settlers who were actually in possession of the land.

Later in 1781, when it was chartered, Ira Allen was one of the commissioners appointed to negotiate the boundary between the Republic of Vermont and State of New York. It was agreed that Alburgh would be part of Vermont, but disputes continued.

Alburgh was an important rail hub until the early 1960’s providing connections between northern New York State, Vermont and the rest of New England, and Canada. With the ending of the railroad era, Alburgh has become primarily an agricultural and vacation home community.

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Alburgh Dunes State Park

Alburgh Dunes State Park

Alburgh Dunes State Park

This 625-acre property became a state park in 1996. It is named for the sand dunes near its’ natural sand beach. This beach is one of the longest beaches on Lake Champlain.

The beach and dunes make up a barrier island, geologically similar to formations commonly found along ocean shorelines. The sand here has come from a layer of glacial till, the soil that was left when the last glacier melted.This sand settles out in a pocket between the rocky “Point of Tongue” to the east and “Coon Point” to the west, forming the beach. Southerly winds blow the sand back from shore to form dunes. This forms a barrier between the lakeshore and the wetland behind, and an island because the beach and dunes, however slowly, continue to migrate into and over the wetland.

The wetland behind the beach includes the largest black spruce bog in Grand Isle County. Black spruce swamps and bogs are more typical of colder, northern climates than of the Champlain Valley, which is Vermont’s warmest area. Core samples from the bog reveal peat to depths of more than 26 feet.

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Alburgh, Vermont Masonic Lodge

Alburgh, Vermont Masonic Lodge

http://www.alburghvt.org    Office Hours: Monday – Friday 9 AM-5 PM

 (802) 796-3468                 email: townofalburgh@fairpoint.net

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