Industrial Past of Colchester Causeway


“If you travel a mile north along the bike path, you’ll find a lake crossing with stunning views: a 3.5-mile causeway connecting Colchester Point to Allen’s Point in South Hero, Vermont. While thousands of bicyclists and walkers use this marble causeway for recreation, it has a very industrial past. The Rutland Railroad opened the Island Line in 1901, connecting the Vermont mainland to the Champlain Islands. At the time, this feat of engineering was hailed as the world’s longest railroad causeway. For half a century, the causeway railroad was Grande Isle County residents’ main link to Burlington and beyond. Passenger rail stopped in 1955 and the last freight train traveled the route in 1961. In 1980, people began planning to convert the route into a recreation trail.

Their work paid off. The Rails-To-Trails Conservancy inducted the Island Line Trail into its national trails. “Hall of Fame” in December 2010, recognizing the trail’s spectacular attributes and decades of collaborative work among towns, the State of Vermont, and trail advocates. Five months later, the causeway was heavily damaged by the waves of Lake Champlain, which was at

record-high levels due to flooding. Luckily, the disaster was eligible for FEMA relief funding, with the federal government paying for 80 percent of the repairs. Local organizations and towns united to cover the remaining 20 percent. The “Big Fix” was done by June 2013.

Almost 12,000 people used the Local Motion Bike Ferry in 2016! The ferry runs from Memorial Day to Columbus Day. Be sure to check the current schedule before you start your trip! Waves from the record-setting 2011 flood of Lake Champlain closed the causeway for two seasons.

Erected by:

Champlain Valley National Heritage Partnership


Marker is in Colchester, Vermont, in Chittenden County. Marker is on Colchester Point Road, 0.1 miles west of Buckingham Drive, on the right when traveling west. Marker is on the Island Line Trail.”-

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