Town of Isle La Motte, Vermont
Isle LaMotte, the northernmost and most remote of the Champlain Islands, is 7 miles long by 2 miles wide, and lies close to where Lake Champlain empties into the Richelieu River. It is the place where Samuel de Champlain first landed, in 1609, on the lake that now bears his name. Isle LaMotte’s European settlement history goes back to the 17th century. A French fort was built in 1666 on the site that is now St. Anne’s Shrine. The island gets its name from the builder of the fort, Pierre de la Motte. As early as 1832 Fisk Quarry exported a beautiful dark limestone called black marble to cities in the south, and this fossil-laden rock can be found in the U.S. Capitol building and the National Gallery of Art. In the mid 1800’s orchards, vineyards and dairy farms flourished on the island, which was then connected to the mainland by ferry during the warmer months and by foot or wagon over the ice in winter. In 1878 the town was incorporated for the sole purpose of building a bridge to Alburgh, and the bridge was completed in 1882.
Today Isle LaMotte has a general store, two churches, a post office and library, elementary school and historical society. About 500 residents call the island home year-round. This number swells many times over in the summer months when the beauty of the island and access to the lake attract many vacationers, bikers and part-time residents. St. Anne’s Shrine brings in tourists from both VT and Canada, and the newly opened Goodsell Ridge Preserve is a mecca for scientists and others interested in the unique geology of the island.