Home

The Gray Barn

The Property

History of Westport

History of Furnace Pt


Looking north, up Main Street, into the
village of Westport around 1900.

Westport's modern history begins in 1764 when William Gilliland surveyed an area in the southern part of the town, which resulted in his receiving a grant of 2,300 acres, which he called Bessboro after his daughter Elizabeth.

A tenant, Raymond, settled on Bessboro, near Camp Dudley, before the Revolution, and built a saw mill which supplied boards and ash for oars to Benedict Arnold.  The first permanent settlement took place in 1785, when Major Hezekiah Barber settled at Barber's Point, where his family still farms.

In 1771, a patent was granted to Philip Skene, covering 2,400 acres north of Bessboro up to the middle of the present village.  This came into the hands of a group of developers, including Platts and Rogers and their friends and relatives., soon after the Revolution.  The first survey was in 1800, when John Halstead was building his house and a tavern at the southwest corner of Washington and Main Streets

.

From 1800 to 1850, the town grew fast, and by 1850 it had a population of 2.352.  Many of the forests had been cut, and turned into logs, lumber, charcoal, and potash.  They fields that were left produced large quantities of farm products, including cattle and sheep, wool and leather, grain, potatoes, and apples.

Iron was also important to the economy.  There were many small mines and furnaces, mostly along the Bouquet and Black rivers.  Larger furnaces were built after 1850, the Sisco Furnace at Jacksonville, just north of the village, the Norway Furnace near the Yacht Club dock, and the Payne forge at Wadhams.  These produced substantial amounts of pig-iron for several years, but by 18885 they had all gone out of business.

Transportation was vital to Westport; Lake Champlain was the first way to move people and commodities.  Ferries ran from Rock Harbor to Basin Harbor and from Barber's Point to Arnold's Bay by 1790.  Steam boats came early to the lake.  The second steam boat built was launched on Lake Champlain in 1808.  It was followed by barges and schooners and other vessels.  A canal to the Hudson River was completed by 1823, connecting Westport with Albany and New York City, and to western New York by way of the Erie Canal.

The Delaware & Hudson Railroad came through Westport in 1876.  By 1916, paved roads arrived, and in the late 1960's the Adirondack Northway (Interstate 87) provided easy access to Montreal, Albany, and points beyond.

The Adirondack summer visitor began to arrive in the 1880's in increasing numbers.  The Westport Inn (1888 to 1966) was the largest accommodation in Westport, although there were many other hotels and boarding houses which welcomed visitors.

Westport was part of the town of Crown Point until 1798, when it became part of Elizabethtown, including what was then called Northwest bay.  Westport became a separate town in 1815.  The Village of Westport was incorporated in 1907.

History of Westport, On Lake Champlain

Also, History of Furnace Point



The Westport Inn,
shown from the lakeside.




Steamboat "Vermont" at the Westport Dock
in the early 1900's.





1907 at the Agricultural Hall,
present day Essex County Fairgrounds.





Jim Braman's Market about 1910.
The building is now Ernie's Market.

 

 

 

 

The Adirondack summer visitor began to arrive in the 1880's in increasing numbers.

The Westport Inn (1888 to 1966) was the largest accommodation in Westport, although there were many other hotels and boarding houses which welcomed visitors.


The Gray Barn on Lake Champlain

59 Furnace Point Lane, Westport, New York 12993