The Burlington Breakwater South Lighthouse was originally constructed in 1857. The need for a lighthouse on Lake Champlain came after many events took place. One major event was the forty-six-mile-long Champlain Canal being completed in 1823. This canal connected Lake Champlain to the Hudson River and the market in New York City. Twenty years later, Quebec built the twelve-mile-long Chambly Canal, which avoided the Richelieu River rapids and made it possible for low-cost Canadian lumber to be transported from the St. Lawrence River to Lake Champlain. These two canals helped Burlington’s port expand, and by 1873, it had risen to become the third-largest lumber port in the nation.
Due to the rise in marine traffic and changes in the natural flow of water around Burlington, a breakwater was constructed. The original Burlington Breakwater was constructed in 1854 and was 1,000 feet long. In 1867, about 1,500 feet were added to the north of the original breakwater and a 360-foot breakwater was constructed by itself even further north. A gap of about 200 feet can be found between the 2,500 foot breakwater and the 360 foot breakwater. Lighthouses were needed to guide mariners between and around the breakwaters and safely into Burlington Harbor.
The first Burlington Breakwater South Lighthouse was cheaply made of wood and placed on the southernmost point of the breakwater in 1857. Burlington Breakwater North Light was placed on the northern end. Over the years, the southern lighthouse has faced many setbacks. In 1876, the lighthouse was destroyed after being knocked over during a storm. A basic steel tower lighthouse replaced the wooden lighthouse, but it lacked character. In 2003, a replica of the south lighthouse was constructed on the breakwater. The lighthouse replica has become one of Burlington’s most iconic structures in the present day.
- Originally constructed: 1857
- Current tower constructed: 2003
- First lit: 2003
- Construction: Wooden
- Tower shape: Pyramid
- Height: 26 feet
- Focal height: 26 feet
- Markings: White
- Characteristic: Flashing white light
- Range: 7 nautical miles
- Status: Active
- Address: Burlington Breakwater
- Town: Burlington
- State: Vermont
- GPS: Lat 44.4699963 Lng -73.2260023
- Parking notes: There are many great places to view Burlington Breakwater South Light. Some of the best spots are Roundhouse Park and also Perkins Pier.
- Parking directions: HERE
- Location directions: HERE
Mark Katz –
Quiet evening in Burlington, looking out at the Adirondacks