Celebrate Vermont History

Landmark anniversaries are approaching for Lake Champlain and the Hudson River. The year 2009 will mark the 400th anniversary of when French explorer Samuel de Champlain sailed the lake that bears his name. It also was in 1609 when English explorer Henry Hudson led a Dutch East India Company expedition up the waterway named for him. The 200th anniversary of Robert Fulton's first use of commercial steam navigation, which happened on the Hudson, also will occur in 2009. A commission to coordinate the anniversary celebrations would be created under legislation introduced by senators from Vermont and New York. Vermont Senators Sanders and Leahy and New York Senators Clinton and Schumer sponsored the Hudson-Fulton-Champlain Quadricentennial Commemoration Commission Act of 2007. Congressman Peter Welch is a cosponsor of the legislation in the House, along with every member from the New York delegation. "Lake Champlain has played a huge part in Vermont history," Sanders said. "The 400th anniversary gives us the chance to celebrate the past and renew our commitment to protect the lake for future generations." The legislation would empower the Secretary of the Interior to create a Commemoration Commission to plan, develop, and execute programs and activities appropriate for the anniversaries. This would include nationwide and international involvement in the festivity planning, support for marketing of commemorative stamps and coins, and funding for scholarly research on the voyage of Champlain. Lake Champlain, initially called "Bitawbagok" by the Abenaki, was renamed by Champlain when he first traveled the waterway in 1609. The 300th anniversary, celebrated in 1909, included mock naval battles and fireworks in lakeside communities. In 1959, the people of Vermont and New York again came together to celebrate the rich history and natural beauty of their national treasures. As we approach the 400th anniversary, there is the potential for an unforgettable celebration for Vermonters, New Yorkers, and visitors alike. Vermont and New York already have set up state commissions for the celebrations surrounding the anniversaries. To learn more about Vermont's commission, please visit www.celebratechamplain.org and for more about New York's commission, click on www.exploreny400.com.