Photo: Chris Sanfino
Lake Champlain and the surrounding lands are home to a ton of history. From massive battles, slave smuggling, and the development of revolutionary transportation methods, there are myriad stories to tell.
The Lake Champlain shoreline is home to one of the oldest (or the oldest, depending on who you ask) log cabins in the US still at its original location. The home was built by a man named Samuel Adsit. Originally from Connecticut, Samuel served under Peter Van Ness in the US army during the Revolutionary War. Upon retiring, he wanted a place to live out his years on the lake. He selected a spot in Willsboro, NY and in 1778 constructed his home.
Once settled in, he and his wife set out to start a family. As the children came, so did the need for more space. Gradually Samuel added bedrooms, living rooms, and other rooms until the entire cabin had been built into a large farm house big enough to fit all of their 16 children. Looking at the lofty structure, one would never have known the cabin ever existed.
And that is how it stayed until 1927, when the property was purchased by Dr. Earl Van DerWerker. Dilapidated and broken from over 100 years of weathering and use, Van DerWerker began to raze the old farm house in 1929 with the intentions of builing his own, new summer home. As the machines tore through the old buildings, the workers uncovered the cabin which had been built into the house. Van DerWerker ordered the rest to be dismantled by hand and, piece by piece, they removed the rest of the house until just the cabin stood.
It was remarkably well preserved, undoubtedly due to the fact that it had not experienced any weathering since being built into the farm house. It instantly became a cultural icon for the area. The cabin changed hands until it was deeded to the town of Willsboro, NY, which carried out a $70,000 renovation project.
The cabin is currently a popular destination for people exploring the Lake Champlain region of Vermont and New York. Stocked with local artifacts and items from the Adsit family, a visit there offers a rare glimpse into pioneer life. Volunteers are on hand to give tours, tell stories, and answer questions. In addition to several other historical markers in the area, there is great hiking and boating nearby for those looking to make a day of it.
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