The Bluff Point Lighthouse on Valcour Island was built in 1874 to guide boats between the west side of the island and the shore. It was the last one to be built on Lake Champlain and was in operation until 1930 when the original light was removed and a steel tower was erected next to the lighthouse to hold a new light. The first lighthouse keeper was Civil War veteran William Herwerth. He died in 1881 and his wife Mary ran the lighthouse for the next 21 years. The lighthouse once included a kitchen, living room, pantry, keeper’s room, 4 bedrooms on the second floor, a spiral staircase, and a ladder giving access to the light at the top.
The property was eventually sold with the last owner being the Adolph Raboff family. In 1986, as Valcour Island was being cleared by the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (NYSDEC) of camps, homes and farms with the fields being returned to nature, the Raboff family argued that the lighthouse should be saved and negotiated a conservation easement with the DEC which gave the Clinton County Historical Association the perpetual right to maintain and restore the lighthouse. A CCHA lighthouse committee was formed and began the slow process of repairing and restoring the inside of the building. CCHA then opened the Lighthouse to the public on Sundays throughout the summer.
In 2004 the Coastguard and NYSDEC removed the light from the steel tower and installed the new functioning Aid to Navigation back in the Lighthouse. With increased visitation by the public, the CCHA volunteers prepared a number of exhibits telling the story of the Lighthouse and Valcour Island, turning the Lighthouse into a museum and interpretive center open Sundays from 1 pm to 3 pm throughout the summer and free to any visitors to the island.
In 2015, NYSDEC, in conjunction with Rabideau Construction Company, began a major restoration/replacement of the 1874 roof and the outside structure of the lighthouse removing damage from over 100 years of deterioration. As a result of using modern materials and techniques, the building became far more weather tight then when it was built. Again, the CCHA Lighthouse Committee volunteers repaired the interior of the Lighthouse and refurbished the exhibits.
The Bluff Point Lighthouse at Valcour Island is a popular destination for 100’s of tourists each year. The United States Lighthouse Society designed a stamp for the lighthouse which Society members collect when visiting. Access to the island is by boat only. Once a summer CCHA arranges a full day of transportation with the lighthouse fully staffed with tour guides. Watch for this under Events.