Law Island

View of Law Island from the Causeway photo courtesy Lake Champlain Land Trust

Located in Colchester, VT, this 9-acre natural area features a scenic loop trail, primitive camping sites, and spectacular sunsets. The island is home to towering Limestone Cedar bluffs, emergent wetlands teeming with wildlife, and several rare plants. Conserved in 1994 by the Lake Champlain Land Trust and its partners, visitors to Law Island can enjoy the secluded island setting, expansive views of the Broad Lake and Adirondacks, excellent fishing, and great bird watching.

Directions


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Guides

Click here for a printable guide to Law Island, including driving directions.

 

History

Law Island is named for early Colchester statesman and farmer John Law, who purchased the island in 1787. The historical records do not show whether he undertook any activities on the island during his lifetime.

Ownership of the island during the early 1800s is unclear up until 1865, when land records show that Benjamin Law, likely a descendant of John Law, sold the island to Sarah and Isabella Shipman. Sarah Shipman sold the island in 1887 to Bernard Porter, who is reported to have allowed a neighbor to graze sheep on its 9 acres.

In 1894, a group of investors purchased the island and erected a clubhouse, cottage and several outbuildings. Ownership of the island was consolidated in the 1920s by E.S. Watkins, and remained in the Watkins family until 1973. Topographic maps from 1943 and 1953 show two structures on the island, one on the north shore and the other on the east shore (see Law Island Image Gallery to view maps).

The island changed hands several times between 1973 and 1994, when it was listed on the open real estate market. The Lake Champlain Land Trust moved swiftly, and with the help of its members and the Vermont Housing and Conservation Board, purchased the island in 1995. The Lake Champlain Land Trust retained a conservation agreement, also known as a conservation easement, before donating the land to the State of Vermont.

In 2007, an analysis of the island’s historic resources concluded that the camp outbuildings—a water tower, pump house, electrical system and road—were unique to such a small island site, but too far deteriorated to preserve. In 2012, the abandoned camp buildings were removed.  To view images of the camps before they were removed, see our Law Island Image Gallery.

Today, visitors to the island can easily locate the camp areas, as portions of their brick fireplaces remain. The island is managed by the Town of Colchester as a low-impact recreation site.

*Historic Information Sources:
1) The Vermont historical gazetteer: a magazine embracing a history of each town, civil, ecclesiastical, biographical and military. Vol 1. Edited by Abby Maria Hemenway. 1867.
2) “Documentation of Historic Resources on Law Island, Colchester, Chittenden County, VT” prepared by Devin A. Coleman – February 2007″

Partners

Law Island State Park was conserved by the Lake Champlain Land Trust thanks to funding from the Vermont Housing and Conservation Board and our supporters.  Law Island is now owned by the State of Vermont and managed by the Town of Colchester.