November 28, 2005
Educators' Newsletter
In this issue


Bartley Journals Online

Captain Theodore D. Bartley, owner of three Lake Champlain canal boats, kept a fascinating day-to-day journal of his life from 1861 to 1889 on the canals and waterways of the Northeast. His journal entries range from dramatic tales of near sinkings during gales on Lake Champlain to descriptions of the lives of ordinary people during the late nineteenth century; he describes the Civil War ironclads, the construction of the Brooklyn Bridge, and the first electric lights and telephones. Theodore's great- grand- daughter-in- law Barbara Bartley has spent countless hours transcribing these journals. This lengthy unedited transcription is available in PDF format online. Other excerpts and information can be found on the Purple Mountain Press' website. The Bartley journals were edited by Russell Bellico and published in 2004 by Purple Mountain Press and LCMM, available for $22.50

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Probably a corruption of the word choke, a chock is a wooden wedge that stabilizes cargo in a ship’s hold and keeps it from shifting while the vessel is underway. The expression chock-full alludes to a ship’s hold that is filled to capacity.

From When a Loose Cannon Flogs a Dead Horse There's the Devil to Pay,
by Olivia A. Isil.
Available at LCMM, 802-475-2022.



Canalers Afloat

New Curriculum Brings Canal Era to the Classroom

Educators, ahoy! The revised edition of LCMM’s canal era curriculum is now available! Canalers Afloat: The Champlain Waterway’s Unique Maritime Community, 1819-1940 presents the history and archaeology of the canal era in a dynamic, standards- based curriculum for grades Pre-K – 8 that can be used to teach archaeology, art, writing, music, geography, and math skills.

The curriculum is a detailed, richly illustrated and user-friendly two-volume set. Each of the 15 units in the curriculum has been designed with the New York and Vermont standards in mind, and features separate activities suitable for Grades Pre-K – 4 and Grades 5 – 8. A dozen appendices put resources at your fingertips: chapter links to learning standards, grading rubric, history and maps of the Champlain Waterway, glossary of historical and nautical terms, biographies, a chronology of events and inventions from 1800- 1940, and more.

Historian Scott A. McLaughlin worked with a team of museum staff and educators from Vermont and New York to create the curriculum. A draft version was field-tested by teachers and their recommendations were integrated into the new edition together with McLaughlin’s latest research. Development and publication of the curriculum was made possible by a generous grant from the Barnes Foundation.

The curriculum can be used alone, or in conjunction with a class visit to LCMM’s replica 1862 canal schooner Lois McClure. To see the Table of Contents, click on the image above.

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Did You Know .... That a Champlain canal boat in 1823 could carry 90 tons (180,000 pounds) of cargo? These boats were built specifically to fit within the canal locks, which defined the boat's length, beam (or width), and draft (its area below the waterline). This in turn defined a boat's carrying capacity. See the loaded and unloaded canal boat in the above historic photograph. An overloaded vessel that had been traveling on the open waters of Lake Champlain or the Hudson River, could lighter off, or move cargo to another vessel, in order decrease its draft for travel through the locks.

In 1823, this new man-made waterway was an immediate success, opening up commercial activity to the entire region. Only a few years after its opening, the Champlain Canal had paid for itself. Its success drove New York State to enlarge the canal in 1862, thereby increasing the carrying capacity of the boats.

By 1877 the canal had enlarged again, allowing larger boats to travel through, able to carry 215 tons (430,000 pounds). That's the equivalent of more than five tractor trailer loads!

A boat's capacity was not just based upon weight, but also volume. A full load of marble would probably not fill a vessel's cargo hold, whereas a full load of apples would necessitate a deck load in addition to the load within the boat.

A canal boat captain's choice of cargo depended on all of these factors: the capacity and size of the vessel, the weight of the cargo, the ease of transporting it, and the clean-up afterwards (imagine how dirty a load of coal is!) These and many more elements of a canal captain's daily life are expanded upon in our new canal era curriculum. Work through the decisions of a canaler with your students!

Related Outreach:
Lake Sailor: Merchants and Mariners on Lake Champlain

After an introductory slide show of historical images describing life and business on Lake Champlain in the 19th century, teams of students form “crews” and “operate” their own canal boat on Lake Champlain, making decisions about where to travel and what cargo to carry determining their economic prosperity or bankruptcy. (1 hour 15 minutes; Grades 5+; Call for funding information.)

Phone: 802-475-2022