Lake Champlain Maritime Museum Logo; Click to return to our Home Page.

Burlington Bay Horse Ferry

Part of the Lake Champlain Underwater Historic Preserve System , freely available to any certified SCUBA diver. Please Register Annually to dive this system.

Click here to register for drive charters to Underwater Historic Preserves with Waterfront Diving Center, Burlington, VT.

Plan drawing of Horse Ferry
Burlington Bay Horse Ferry.

The very fragile horse-powered ferry in Burlington Bay is the only archaeologically studied example of a turntable "team-boat," a once common North American vessel type. Animal powered vessels were introduced into North America in 1814. They became a popular form of transportation for short-distance river and lake crossing, until the middle of the 19th century, when they were surpassed by the increasing use of steam power.

Lake Champlain's long, narrow shape created the need for many ferry crossings between Vermont and New York, crossings that were ideally suited to horse ferries. The use of horse ferries on the Lake appears to have peaked in the 1830s and 1840s.

The Burlington Bay Horse Ferry was discovered in the fall of 1983 during a side-scan sonar survey. The identity and date of construction have not yet been determined. Continued study of this unique vessel may provide more clues to her name and date of sinking.

A working 1/2-size model of this vessel’s horse-power system is located at the Lake Champlain Maritime Museum. More information about this wreck can be found in the 1998 publication When Horse Walked on Water, by Kevin Crisman. Read more about this fascinating wreck, (follow the links from the Virtual Museum of Nautical Archaeology, to Lake Champlain Projects), from the Institute of Nautical Archaeology.

Features of Interest

Diving Information



Please Register Annually to dive the Lake Champlain Underwater Historic Preserve system.