This week Vermont Historical Society executive director Steve Perkins takes us to the sandbar at This Place in History.
The historical marker in the middle of the sandbar tells the story of Samuel de Champlain and his first stops at the Champlain Islands in 1609.
“These islands have a great history.” explained Perkins. “We know them as South Hero, Grand Isle, North Hero…you hear that name. ‘Hero.’ How did it get those names of hero? Well, the islands were granted to heroes of the American Revolution. More specifically, some heroes of the Green Mountain Boys.”
Perkins introduced us to Ron Phelps, whose family has been on the Champlain Islands for generations.
Phelps tells the story of how residents of the area built up the sandbar rock by rock in order to make it passable. His grandfather, Benajah Phelps raised a family in the toll house on the sandbar bridge.
“There was an arm that came off the porch and down across the road.” Phelps said. “There was a sign there that said how much the tolls were. So much for swine, so much for horses. He’d collect that toll then he’d raise the arm up and let the people go by.”
The state took over the sandbar in 1907.
Watch the video for Phelps’ story about a bear riding a boat into the islands.
Check out all of our At This Place in History features on the ‘Related Headlines’ section of this page and get a map of Vermont historical markers here.