Ongoing Exhibits - on display all season
Rudder from the Steamboat Champlain II
After the sudden grounding of steamboat Champlain II on the shores of New York in 1875 (read more about the sinking of Champlain II), much of the wreck was stripped due to the ease of access. The massive 10 foot x 8 foot rudder was salvaged and became for many years the centerpiece of the Rudder Club in Essex, NY. Recently donated to Lake Champlain Maritime Museum by Bob and Pat Burley, the rudder is now on permanent exhibition at the Museum. The Museum offers on-water shipwreck tours to the site of Champlain II, where you can view the shipwreck in real time via ROV, the Remote Operated Vehicle used by nautical archaeologists during their fieldwork on Lake Champlain.
Hazelett Watercraft Center
The centerpiece of this exhibit is the 35 foot long, 1902 ice yacht Storm King, given to the museum by William (Bill) and Dawn Hazelett. Storm King towers above a two-story array of dugout and bark canoes, kayaks, rowing skiffs, and sail boats from the LCMM collection, and digital displays of vintage postcards and film footage of ice boats in action. “We can’t find enough words to thank Bill and Dawn Hazelett and their family for their generosity,” commented LCMM director Art Cohn. “The Hazelett Watercraft Center fulfills a long-cherished vision of a facility at the Maritime Museum that celebrates the lake’s legacy of wooden watercraft and their makers, and the sport of iceboating.”
This new building features highlights of LCMM’s extraordinary collection of over 90 small boats made and used on Lake Champlain. The exhibit celebrates the unique style and craftsmanship of Lake Champlain’s watercraft and honors the boat builders who created them. Over the centuries thousands of hand-crafted wooden boats on the lake served a myriad of purposes: hunting, fishing, transportation of goods and people, as well as recreation and leisure. These boats continue to inspire the people who design and create boats, canoes and kayaks of both traditional and innovative materials.
Outboard Motors: The First Hundred Years
More than 50 vintage outboard motors, donated to LCMM in 2010 by the late Raymond R. Unsworth, inspired a new exhibition at LCMM. Outboard Motors - The First Hundred Years was dedicated in July 2011.
Lake Champlain was a major force in Ray Unsworth's life. From childhood he owned, built and refurbished a variety of boats. During the summer he explored, fished and raced, winning trophies for both power and sail races. During the winter he enjoyed ice boating. Many of these motors were used by the Unsworth family … and then joined one of Ray's many, varied collections. Born in Burlington, Vermont on January 7, 1919, Ray graduated from Burlington High School in 1936 and Middlebury College, Class of 1941. In June 1944 he married Norma Winberg. He served as a Lieutenant in the U.S. Coast Guard during World War II, commanding an anti-submarine ship stationed in Key West, Florida. He then was on the crew of a Navy troop ship, bringing American troops from France for the planned invasion of Japan. The year Ray was born his father built a "camp" on the shore of Lake Champlain in Shelburne, Vermont, and until 2009, with the exception of the war years, Ray spent at least part of every summer at camp. The camp is now owned by his children, whom he taught to love the lake.
Nautical Archaeology Center
Lake Champlain's cold dark waters contain more than 300 historic shipwrecks, making it one of the most historic bodies of water in North America. In this exhibit, nautical archaeologists decipher the stories of some of the most unusual and dramatic shipwrecks in the lake: a horse-powered ferry; Vermont I, the world’s second successful experiment in steam navigation; the tragic fire that sank the steamboat Phoenix in 1819; and the heroic rescue when the 1862 canal schooner General Butler ran aground on the Burlington Breakwater in a winter storm. These exhibits contain artifacts recovered from the shipwrecks, hands-on explanations, as well as information about our changing diving technology.
Be sure to visit with LCMM conservators as they work on artifacts recovered from Lake Champlain and elsewhere in our state-of-the-art Conservation Laboratory. This is also where we feature the exhibit Lake Champlain Invasion, highlighting the natural biodiversity of Lake Champlain, and the non-native species that now call it home. Click to download the two-panel exhibit (pdf):
The Key to Liberty: The Revolutionary War in the Champlain Valley
Visit the exhibit Key to Liberty to read eyewitness accounts of the 1776 Battle of Valcour Island, and learn the fate of the fleet that dared to confront the British Royal Navy on Lake Champlain.
Entering the gallery, visitors find a 9 ft.-long scale model of a gunboat from the 1776 fleet on Lake Champlain. Ship models, interactive learning stations, videos, artifacts, and historical maps and images tell the story of Benedict Arnold’s 1776 naval fleet on Lake Champlain, and the fate of the historic shipwrecks of that fleet including the last surviving gunboat discovered in 1997.
A 15-minute video Key to Liberty, based on eyewitness accounts, brings to life the crucial moments of the Battle of Valcour Island. Another video documentary A Tale of Three Gunboats presents the raising of the 1776 gunboat Philadelphia from Lake Champlain in 1935, the construction and launching of the replica gunboat Philadelphia II in 1989–1991, and the 1997 discovery of the last missing gunboat Spitfire from Benedict Arnold’s fleet. Purchase these two videos for only $12.
Life Aboard A Canal Boat
For 150 years, canal boats transformed communities, commerce, and culture in the northeastern United States, until they were supplanted by railroads, trucking, and airplanes. Maritime archaeology fieldwork and research, and the construction and operation of replica canal schooner Lois McClure have allowed LCMM to recapture many details of life in the canal era (ca. 1820-1940). Enjoy a “virtual tour” of schooner Lois McClure, and the latest archaeological findings from historic shipwrecks. Some three hundred artifacts recovered from the Sloop Island Canal Boat provide a glimpse of daily life on board a canal boat. Peer through a window into the past, through the remarkably complete contents of the cabin where family and crew lived.
Bridging Lake Champlain: Where Have all the Ferries Gone?
When the Champlain Bridge opened on August 26, 1929, over 40,000 people gathered to celebrate the dawn of a new era for the region—and created the Champlain Valley’s first traffic jam! Watch video from the grand opening celebration. For centuries, the lake had served as a highway for north-south travel and a link between communities on the eastern and western shores. But in the early twentieth century, people traveling by car and train saw the lake as a 120-mile long barrier, and wanted a bridge they could cross in any weather and at any time. The bridge meant the end of a long tradition of ferries across the lake, and changes in the towns that had flourished at the ferry landings.
In December 2009, the Champlain Bridge was determined to be unsafe, and after 80 years in operation, it was demolished. An interim ferry service was instated in February 2010 by the Lake Champlain Transportation Company as the new bridge was under construction, managed by the NY Department of Transportation, funded by federal and state (NY & VT) allocations, and contracted to Flatiron Construction Corporation.
The new Champlain Bridge opened for traffic on November 9, 2011, once again connecting Chimney Point, VT and Crown Point, NY. It features wider lanes to accomodate pedestraian and bike traffic. Read more about the bridge's engineering and design on NYS DOT's Lake Champlain Bridge Project.
This exhibition uses rare archival film, artifacts and historic photographs to revisit this momentous change in the Champlain Valley, including original film footage of the opening day parade, signal lights from the bridge, and treasured photographs and memorabilia from family members and regional archives.
Contact of Cultures, 1609
On display in LCMM’s historic 1818 Stone Schoolhouse, this exhibit reflects the maritime skills and traditions of the region’s Native people and the pivotal expedition of Samuel de Champlain in 1609. Lake Champlain’s first navigators are represented by a dugout canoe, full sized and miniature birch bark canoes, and some of the tools used to make them, an array of canoe paddles, as well as traditional fishing net, hooks, and sinkers. Then meet Samuel de Champlain, whose explorations (including the 1609 expedition to Lake Champlain) and personal diplomacy helped shape the world of today. Discover the skillful and tenacious man behind the myth, and some of the region’s Native American people revealed in Champlain’s writings and drawings.
Abenaki historian Frederick M. Wiseman, Ph. D. worked with his students and with a professional armorer to provide replicas of the armor, helmets, and other equipment used on the Champlain expedition. El-nu Abenaki Chief Roger Longtoe and Vera Longtoe created replicas of fishing lures, hooks, sinkers, and net used by Native people in the seventeenth century. Live demonstrations are presented at LCMM each year at the Native American Encampment.
Replica 1776 Gunboat Philadelphia II
Step aboard the 54 ft. long Philadelphia II, a full-sized replica of a gunboat from the American fleet that confronted the British Royal Navy on Lake Champlain in 1776. The original Philadelphia, which sank on the first day of the Battle of Valcour Island, was raised from the lake in 1935 and is now at the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D. C. This replica, constructed by LCMM staff and volunteers between 1989–91, is moored at the museum’s North Harbor, offering visitors a hands-on encounter with the eighteenth century maritime experience. Read more about Philadelphia II.
Schooner Lois McClure
The schooner Lois McClure is a full-scale replica of an 1862-class sailing canal boat, constructed in Burlington, Vermont. Although she is a fully functional replica, we do not offer boating tours; she is strictly a dockside experience. This full-scale working replica is modeled after two shipwrecks sunk in Burlington Harbor: read the accounts of the working life and sinking of schooners General Butler and OJ Walker.
Maritime Machines features interactive stations all around the museum that give visitors an opportunity to experience first-hand the ways that people have combined and refined simple machines—over the centuries—to make maritime tasks easier.
Steam to Gasoline
The year after Robert Fulton operated the world’s first successful steamboat on the Hudson River, the Winans brothers launched the first steamboat on Lake Champlain, Vermont. The lake’s 29 large steamboats ferries and launches served the lake’s waterfront communities and captured the public imagination. Other exhibits in this building feature the lighthouses of Lake Champlain, the 1929 Champlain Bridge, and powerboats, including a fully-restored 1954 Chris Craft Runabout.
Rinehart Blacksmith Arts Center
The Rinehart Blacksmith Arts Center includes facilities for group courses and workshops as well as one-on-one instruction. Four fully equipped work stations are available for student use, thanks in large part to donations of tools and time from local and regional blacksmiths outfitting our student shop. Special thanks to Warren Rinehart for his inspiration and generosity in founding the center, Judson Yaggy for manufacture of many tools used to equip the work stations, and to Mike Bishop for donation of a blower. Read more about LCMM's Blacksmithing Opportunities & Events.