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The gunboat Philadelphia salvage team.
The gunboat Philadelphia's salvage team:
from left to right, J. Rupert Schalk, William Lilja,
and Lorenzo Hagglund.
Photo courtesy the Smithsonian Institution.

Shipwrecks of Lake Champlain

Lake Champlain has been a water highway for hundreds of years, with thousands of vessels plying her waters. Many have sunk due to a variety of factors, including warfare and weather and neglect. Lake Champlain's cold, dark, fresh waters are the ideal preservative environment, giving Lake Champlain an extraordinary collection of intact shipwrecks. Lake Champlain Maritime Museum has been studying these shipwrecks for more than 30 years. These pages are a sampling of stories and images from the more than 300 historic shipwrecks on the bottom of Lake Champlain.

Shipwreck Tours!

See a shipwreck - without getting wet! The museum offers this exciting on-water program, Shipwrecks! An excursion boat takes participants out on the lake to the site of a historic shipwreck. There, the operator deploys a Remotely Operated Vehicle (ROV) like those used by nautical archaeologists. Participants view the ROV as it explores the details of the site, instantly relaying images to an on-board monitor. Read more about Shipwreck Tours!


Dive Lake Champlain: Underwater Historic Preserves

The states of New York and Vermont have established the Lake Champlain Historic Preserve System to provide access for divers to some of the Lake's historic shipwrecks. Get information about depths, dive conditions, and other essential diving information.

History of Lake Champlain

A brief outline of the history of the Champlain Valley, focused on the maritime aspects of Lake Champlain, from the first occupation of the region by Native Americans; the Military Period which included the Colonial Wars, the American Revolution, and the War of 1812; a nineteenth century Commercial Era, and a twentieth-century Recreational Use of Lake Champlain.



Nautical Archaeology Field School

Nautical Archaeology Field School on Lake Champlain

A field school experience is a critical component for any student pursuing a career path in nautical archeology. The Lake Champlain Maritime Museum is hosting a rigorous program that offers a mix of both academic instruction and hands-on underwater archaeological research.  The diving sessions will teach practical underwater skills using both traditional documentation techniques and cutting-edge technology, while the classroom component will provide students with an opportunity to train in GIS, study CRM practices, and learn about local history and artifact conservation methods.
Read more about our Field School.



Do you have relatives in this area that were involved in the 19th century commerical boating? See our listing of canalers, shipwrights, and boat names. If you have additional information, we'd love to include it. Email us at or call (802) 475-2022.


Webcast of the Shipwrecked Sarah Ellen - November 5, 2009
Join us for a FREE online broadcast
from the 1860 shipwrecked schooner Sarah Ellen.
Now viewable HERE.