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Westport, New York
Essex County Fairgrounds in Westport, with Lake Champlain and Vermont in the background
Essex County Fairgrounds in Westport, with Lake Champlain and Vermont in the background
"A gateway to the Adirondack Mountains"
Location in Essex County and the state of New York
Location in Essex County and the state of New York
Country United States
State New York
County Essex
 • Type Town Council
 • Town Supervisor Daniel W. Connell (D)
 • Town Council
 • Total 66.8 sq mi (173.0 km2)
 • Land 58.2 sq mi (150.7 km2)
 • Water 8.6 sq mi (22.4 km2)
226 ft (69 m)
 • Total 1,312
 • Density 23/sq mi (8.7/km2)
Time zone UTC-5 (Eastern (EST))
 • Summer (DST) UTC-4 (EDT)
ZIP code
Area code(s) 518
FIPS code 36-80775
GNIS feature ID 0979625

Westport is a town in Essex County, New York, United States overlooking Lake Champlain. The population was 1,312 at the 2010 census.

The town is on the eastern border of the county and is 41 miles (66 km) south of Plattsburgh and 103 miles (166 km) south of Montreal. Westport is inside the Adirondack Park.

Westport is the birthplace of the Adirondack chair.

The Essex County Fair is held in the town. The Essex County Fairgrounds was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 2005.


Early history

In 1642, Jesuit missionary Isaac Jogues was tortured by Iroquois at Coles Bay. He survived and was eventually saved by merchants from New Amsterdam.

The town was founded by William Gilliland in 1764 who surveyed an area in the southern part of the town and was granted 2,300 acres (9.3 km2); he also established the neighboring towns of Elizabethtown, named for his wife, and Willsboro. Gilliland originally called his patent "Bessboro" after his little daughter. The original settlement, which may have supplied wood to Benedict Arnold's troops, was completely destroyed during the American Revolutionary War in connection with British General John Burgoyne's march from Canada to Saratoga. The first permanent settlement was in 1785.


The town of Westport was established in 1815 from part of the town of Elizabethtown. The community of Westport in the center of town incorporated as a village in 1907. The community abandoned its status as an incorporated village on December 31, 1992.

Westport the resort

By the mid-nineteenth century, Westport was a fashionable resort town. Its social scene was regularly reported on in The New York Times and by the Boston press. Like many other East Coast resorts, its popularity gradually declined, starting in the 1930s, as first automobiles and then airplanes made possible a wider selection of vacation sites. Since the 1950s, however, Westport's lakeshore property has steadily increased in value. Although once most of the "summer people" stayed for weeks, now distinctions are not as clear: there are "year-round summer people" whose livelihood stems from outside Westport, weekenders whose principal residence is fairly close by (for example, Albany, which is two hours distant by car), and commuters to workplaces as distant as Plattsburgh, New York, or Middlebury, Vermont.

Westport is home to Camp Dudley, YMCA, the oldest summer camp in continuous operation in the United States, founded in 1885 by Sumner F. Dudley, who moved to Westport in 1891. Meadowmount, the summer school for string players founded by Ivan Galamian, is 8 miles (13 km) northwest of the center of town, in the town of Lewis. Westport is known as the ice fishing capital of Essex County.

Westport is home one of the only two professional theatres in the Adirondacks proper, the second being Pendragon Theatre in Saranac Lake. The Depot Theatre was founded in 1979, and operates out of the historic Amtrak railway station. The 136-seat, air-conditioned theatre hosts plays and musicals on its main stage during the summer months, as well as an annual gala.

The Camp Dudley Road Historic District, Champlain II Shipwreck, Essex County Fairgrounds, First Congregational and Presbyterian Society Church of Westport, Lake View Grange No. 970, and Vergennes canal boat are listed on the National Register of Historic Places.


Painted Lady B&B, Westport, NY
The Victorian Lady bed and breakfast, one of many historic houses in Westport

According to the United States Census Bureau, the town has a total area of 66.8 square miles (173.0 km2), of which 58.2 square miles (150.7 km2) is land and 8.6 square miles (22.4 km2), or 12.93%, is water.

The east town line is formed by Lake Champlain and the border of Vermont. The town is inside the Adirondack Park.

New York State Route 9N, New York State Route 22, and County Route 44 are north-south highways in Westport. NY-9N and NY-22 become conjoined in Westport village. Interstate 87, the Northway, passes across the northwest part of Westport, with access from Exit 31 (NY-9N).


Several sites on the Lake Champlain Birding Trail are located in Westport:

  • Coon Mountain Preserve (administered by The Nature Conservancy)
  • Webb Royce Swamp
  • Westport Boat Launch


Historical population
Census Pop.
1820 1,095
1830 1,513 38.2%
1840 1,932 27.7%
1850 2,352 21.7%
1860 1,981 −15.8%
1870 1,577 −20.4%
1880 1,737 10.1%
1890 1,864 7.3%
1900 1,727 −7.3%
1910 1,867 8.1%
1920 1,492 −20.1%
1930 1,534 2.8%
1940 1,657 8.0%
1950 1,597 −3.6%
1960 1,565 −2.0%
1970 1,453 −7.2%
1980 1,439 −1.0%
1990 1,446 0.5%
2000 1,362 −5.8%
2010 1,312 −3.7%
Est. 2014 1,306 −0.5%
U.S. Decennial Census
Westport Library, Westport, NY
Westport Library, built 1887

As of the census of 2000, there were 1,362 people, 593 households, and 381 families residing in the town. (Note that since the census excludes summer residents, the figures in this section are for year-round residents only.) The population density was 23.3 people per square mile (9.0/km²). There were 887 housing units at an average density of 15.2 per square mile (5.9/km²). The racial makeup of the town was 97.65% White, 0.15% African American, 0.29% Native American, 0.73% Asian, 0.15% from other races, and 1.03% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 1.03% of the population.

There were 593 households out of which 25.1% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 55.3% were married couples living together, 6.2% had a female householder with no husband present, and 35.6% were non-families. 29.3% of all households were made up of individuals and 12.8% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.30 and the average family size was 2.83.

In the town, the population was spread out with 22.1% under the age of 18, 3.7% from 18 to 24, 24.5% from 25 to 44, 29.2% from 45 to 64, and 20.4% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 45 years. For every 100 females there were 96.0 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 91.2 males.

The median income for a household in the town was $40,000, and the median income for a family was $49,917. Males had a median income of $31,042 versus $26,550 for females. The per capita income for the town was $22,063. About 5.2% of families and 7.7% of the population were below the poverty line, including 8.0% of those under age 18 and 5.0% of those age 65 or over.

Public transport

D&H Railroad Depot, Westport, New York
Westport train station, home to the Depot Theatre
See also: Westport (Amtrak station)

Amtrak, the national passenger rail system, provides service to Westport, operating its Adirondack daily in both directions between Montreal and New York City. A bus connection is available from Westport to Lake Placid. The Amtrak station also houses the Depot Theatre.

Notable accidents/incidents

On August 28, 2006, at approximately 6:45 p.m. local time, a Greyhound bus traveling from New York City to Montreal overturned on the Adirondack Northway in Westport after suffering a blown tire, killing five and injuring 48.

Access to medical care

Westport is in a rural area in the Adirondack Park, and so most of its access to medical care is via the ferry operated by Lake Champlain Transportation Company. The nearest emergency room is Elizabethtown Community Hospital, a 25-bed rural hospital 9 miles (14 km) to the west, with eight doctors on its active medical staff. About 30 miles (48 km) by car to the northeast in Burlington, accessible via ferry, is the emergency room of Fletcher Allen Hospital, a large, full-service hospital affiliated with the University of Vermont. During times when the ferry from Essex is not running, the nearest full-service emergency room is at CVPH Medical Center, in Plattsburgh, 41 miles (66 km) north of Westport. Slightly closer, though a slower drive over rural roads, is Porter Hospital in Middlebury, Vermont, accessible via the bridge at Crown Point.

Elizabethtown Community Hospital operates a small satellite clinic in Westport.

Communities and locations in Westport

Inhabited locations

  • Wadhams (formerly "Wadhams Mills" and "The Falls") – a hamlet just north of Westport on NY Route 22 at the junction of County Roads 8 and 10. Wadhams has its own free public library, volunteer fire department, and a hydroelectric dam on the Boquet River. All of these can be seen while standing on the bridge next to the Wadhams Free Library. Wadhams is best known locally for its farmers' market and Dogwood Bread Co. (formerly called Merrick's). The farmers' market takes place in front of the bakery. Wadhams is also known for its annual Strawberry Festival.
  • Westport – The hamlet of Westport, formerly a village between 1907 and 1992. The community is located on the shore of Lake Champlain on NY-9N at the junction of NY-22.

Geographical locations

  • Barber Point – A projection into Lake Champlain south of Bluff Point.
  • Black River – A stream forming part of the west town line.
  • Bluff Point – A projection into Lake Champlain south of Westport village.
  • Cole's Bay – A small bay of Lake Champlain, south of Northwest Bay.
  • Furnace Point – A projection into North West Bay, north of Westport village.
  • Hoisington Brook – A stream entering Lake Champlain at Westport village.
  • Moore Point – A projection into Lake Champlain south of Barber Point.
  • Nichols Pond – A small lake near the west town line.
  • North West Bay – A bay of Lake Champlain by Westport village.
  • Split Rock Mountain – An elevation at the boundary between Westport and the town of Essex, known for its rattlesnake population.
  • Stacy Brook – A stream entering Lake Champlain at Cole's Bay.

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