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Guest Contributors...                            James G. Bailey

Many people contributed their time and money in this two-year campaign; their reward is a feeling of achievement in reversing a twenty-year-old blunder.  The local media, particularly the Press-Republican, were extremely helpful.  The late Barney Fowler kept the embers alive in the Albany Times-Union, close to the feet that needed warming.  Ultimate responsibility for the outcome, of course, rested with Commissioner Lehman and his deputy, Ivan Vamos.
   State plans have yet to be formulated for Crab island, other than the arrangement for D. E. C. to provide daily surveillance via their Valcour Island boat patrol.  With the record of vandalism, it is unlikely any significant structures will be built there.  Paths around the island, perhaps a restoration of those shown on the 1909 map, will be made, with picnic sites, but with no overnight camping allowed, says D. E. C. Dodging the poison ivy will continue to be a required skill of visitors down the centuries.
   The granite obelisk needs repointing, in addition to having its four plaques cleaned and

remounted.  Signs to note the natural and historic features--e.g., the invalids' battery at the north tip--could be erected at a modest cost.  But the most important need is for 0. P. R. H. P. to send its archaeologist to pinpoint the burial trenches, and then to fence in and clearly mark the area.  Veterans' groups would be willing to help with the marking.
   The fact there is no marker anywhere on the island reading "Here are buried American and British sailors killed in the naval battle of Sept. 11, 1814 just off this island" is what let the federal surplus sale happen a generation ago.  Without such a marker, who can predict there won't be, a century from now, a state surplus sale?

 

James Bailey is the Plattsburgh City Historian and a trustee of the Clinton County Historical Association.  He has had careers as public school teacher and Essex County Historian.

A previously unpublished, hand-drawn map of Crab Island shows the proposed paths, flagstaff, caretaker's cottage and sewer line, but no monument.
The map is undated.  Courtesy of the Civil Engineering Office, PAFB.  

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Other Crab Island related links on America's Historic Lakes:

The Secrets of Crab Island by James P. Millard

The Battle of Plattsburgh- The War of 1812 on Lake Champlain

Dr. James Mann's account of the Battle of Plattsburgh

Return of killed and wounded on board the United States squadron on Lake Champlain, in the engagement with the British fleet, on the 11th of September, 1814 - official listing of American losses from the naval engagement.

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