The Lake Champlain Waterway – Ted Davis

Today it is possible to sail (meaning to travel on water) along the Hudson River (from New York City) all the way up into Canada to the St Lawrence River (at the town of Sorel-Tracy, Quebec). The waterway route extends from the Erie Canal (Mohawk & Hudson River confluence) at Cohoes, 9 miles north of Albany, NY up to the St. Lawrence River. This river valley was North America’s first inter-connected waterway system that shaped the nation-building activities of the United States and Canada. It provides access to over 225 miles of diverse historic, natural, cultural and recreational sites along the Hudson River, Champlain Canal, Lake Champlain, and the Chambly Canal/Richelieu River in Quebec. “H. Valentine, 2019, Maritime Executive”.

Map of Champlain Valley

Believe it or not, this interconnecting waterway (Champlain Valley) was once covered by mile high Glaciers. Before that, it was covered by an inland sea that existed at least 200 million years ago (Mya) when the supercontinent (Pangaea) split apart, and the Atlantic Ocean began to form. Imagine what this waterway was like at the time of the dinosaurs! Teeming with marine fishes, giant invertebrate amphipods, and huge marine reptiles like the Plesiosaur or the dolphin-like Ichthyosaur!

Later, after the reign of the dinosaur gave way to the mammals, and probably the monstrous Basilosaurus, the first of the whales hunted sharks and other marine mammals like seals.


Later as the ice ages came and went, River Dolphins were common like we see in the Amazon River and Beluga whales like up in the Arctic.

River Dolphin

Beluga Whale

Now-a-days (modern Holocene Epoch), the Champlain Waterway is mostly aquatic (fresh water) with partly salt, partly fresh water (brackish) found at the seaway entrances (NY Harbor & Gulf of St Lawrence). These waterway habitats are home to a wide variety of plants and animals that are important, and habitats include:

  • Brackish and freshwater/tidal wetlands that provide essential habitat for diamondback terrapins, fiddler crabs, rails and killifish, river otter, turtles, bald eagles and other raptors, marsh wrens and herons, crayfish and dragonflies and blackbirds
  • Shallows and submerged aquatic plant beds that support blue crabs, bait fish, ducks, osprey, striped bass and American shad
  • Natural shorelines that provide a vital transition zone between water and land and foraging grounds for sandpipers, land mammals and a host of fish.
  • River bottom needed by sturgeons, hogchokers, native mussels and oysters
  • Tributary streams accessible to river herring like shad, American eels, salmon and other animals that are declining throughout the Northeast

These habitats support extraordinary biological diversity and provide important benefits to humans, yet habitats have been diminished, damaged and disconnected by human patterns of development during the last 150 years. Please follow this MPSEC link  to learn more. “Lands & Water, New York State; Department of Environmental Conservation”.The Lake Champlain Lake Monster

The Lake Champlain Lake Monster

Champ, North America’s answer to the Loch Ness monster, has long been a legend around Lake Champlain. He (or she) has spawned Indian legends, a baseball team mascot, offers of reward money, paranormal investigations, keychains, mugs, T-shirts and even seafood patties on sesame-seed buns called ‘Champburgers.’ More than 300 sightings have been reported over the years and attracted the attention of serious people.

Could this be Champ?