BURTON ISLAND STATE PARK
Burton Island is a 253-acre island off the southwestern tip of St. Albans Point in Lake Champlain's "inland sea." An 1874 Lake Champlain navigation chart refers to it as Potter's Island, though C. C. Burton owned a farm on the mainland in the 1840s and the island was used for pasture. A descendant, Sydney Burton owned the island through the early 1900s and leased it to tenant farmers who typically kept livestock such as cows, pigs, and chickens on the land while raising staple crops like beans and peas. Today, walking the island trails, you'll find old fence lines and stone piles, rusted farm implements, and the foundation of an old barn - all remnants of the island's agricultural past.
The Burtons sold the island to Randall Dimon, who built the cottage on the island's eastern point. The Dimon's continued to summer in the cottage for years after selling the island to the state of Vermont in 1960. Original state plans envisioned a causeway from the mainland to bring cars to an island campground. Fortunately, the unique appeal of island isolation was appreciated before construction began. The state instead built a small marina to accommodate the boats of campers who, in the years before there was ferry service, had to get themselves to the island. As recreational boating became popular, the small marina became a popular stopover for people cruising the lake. The type of park user had changed, and boats had become larger. The marina was expanded with services added to meet these user needs. The campground has remained popular amongst clienteles who enjoy the seclusion of an island experience away from cars and traffic.
There were some early logistical problems posed by the lack of a nearby mainland access point. Burton Island was a long boat ride from the state dock at the head of St. Albans Bay. With that in mind, Kill Kare, a former boys camp on the tip of St. Albans Point, was purchased by the state in 1967 and became Kill Kare State Park. Support facilities at Kill Kare include parking space, a boat ramp, and a breakwater to protect the dock for the state ferry, which carries non-boating visitors to the island. The big three-story building at Kill Kare was a summer resort hotel, built in the 1870s and renovated in 1982. It now includes modern rest room and changing facilities for day visitors to Kill Kare. Reproductions of historic photographs on display in the public lobby show what the area looked like 150 years ago.
There are 17 tent sites and 26 lean-to sites plus 15 boat moorings and a 100-slip marina with dockside electricity, fuel service, and a marine holding-tank pumpout facility. This, with ferry service to the island (no vehicles) from Kill Kare, makes Burton Island one of the most unique parks in Vermont. Rest rooms have running water and hot showers ($). There are 3 miles of shoreline, hiking trails, a nature center/museum, park store and food service, rowboat and canoe rentals, and places to swim and picnic.