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First "interstate" highway passed through here

Crown Pt. Military Road

On Tuesday evening, Aug. 17 at 7 pm, Black River Academy Museum (BRAM) will feature a slide-supported discussion on the Crown Point Road, literally, Vermont's first interstate highway constructed in 1759-60. Rebecca Tucker and Dennis Devereux will be the presenters.

More than 250 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, in 2010, it is possible to walk or drive a car on many remaining sections of this ancient road, unique in American history.

Refreshments will be served following the presentation. Admission is by donation.

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