Lake Sloop (Wreck QQQ)

Wreck QQQ lies in a shallow river, less than a mile from Lake Champlain. The wreck was known of before the 2002 inspection. In 1986, Merritt Carpenter reported the wreck “near the head of navigation.” Merritt believed it was a vessel used to transport iron ore from bog iron deposits to a furnace on Malletts Bay. In 1998, A.R. Evans of Essex Junction, Vermont reported having seen the wreck of a large sailing vessel with a centerboard in in this location many years earlier. Mr. Curtis, the former property owner of the land adjacent the wreck, first saw the wreck in the early 1970s while trapping on the land. He reported the wreck to staff at the University of Vermont. Researchers from the University apparently inspected the wreck site and took soundings to determine the length. The date of this survey and the researchers who undertook it are currently unknown. The wreck was reputed to be a portable saw mill, and the soundings revealed a length of 50 to 60ft (15.2 to 18.3m).

Preliminary plan view of Wreck QQQ, not to scale. Drawn by Adam Kane, inked by Adam Loven).

The remains of the Wreck QQQ were relocated and examined in October 2002. Visibility during this inspection was less than 2ft (.61m) and much of the vessel’s hull was buried. Both of these factors making documentation difficult, therefore researchers focused on determining the nature of the vessel, rather than documenting the structure.

Although most of the hull was buried, portions, especially toward the stern, seem to have been scoured out by the creek. The vessel’s overall preserved length was 65ft (19.8m), a measurement taken from the end of the keel in the stern to the termination of the exposed remains in the bow. The bow lies in shallow water, (about 2ft [.6m] deep in October 2002) therefore the preservation of that portion of the hull was poor. No feature resembling a stem was located. The actual length of the hull was estimated to be upwards of 70ft (21.3m). Because the hull was buried, an accurate beam could not be established.

The hull’s most prominent feature was the bottom of a centerboard trunk. This structure formed a watertight box inside the hull for raising and lowering the still extant centerboard. The trunk was constructed of two parallel walls of edge-fastened planks with stanchions at each end. The preserved part of the centerboard trunk projects approximately 2ft (.6m) above the bottom of the hull. Both forward and aft of the trunk, the vessel’s wide flat keelson was visible. No mast step was observed on the keelson, however, sediment obscured most of its length. Ceiling was noted port and starboard of the trunk. A number of futtocks along the port side of the hull were exposed above the mud. They were single futtocks with planking on the exterior and ceiling on their interior. All of the fasteners observed on the vessel were wrought iron rosehead nails.

The shape of the hull was very difficult for researchers to determine during the brief inspection. The turn of the bilge in the center of the hull seems to have had a hard chine. Unlike canal boats, however, the chine does not seem to be constructed using a chine log, but with standing knees. The shape of the hull in both the bow and stern appeared to be molded.

Given the dynamic conditions in which Wreck QQQ was deposited, its preservation is good. An estimated 40 to 50 per cent of the hull is extant. Based on the evidence collected during the evaluation of this site, the vessel appears to be an early nineteenth century commercial sailing vessel. Its construction suggests that it was not a canal boat. The details of Wreck QQQ’s construction and a more exact date await a comprehensive examination. The unique nature and shallow depth of the vessel, combined with the accessibility of the wreck site, make it an ideal candidate for detailed investigation. 

Statement of Significance

Even with the limited information gathered from Wreck QQQ, it can safely be presumed that it is eligible for inclusion in the National Register of Historic Places under Criterion D: Information Potential. Wreck QQQ is most likely a commercial sloop or schooner built before the opening of the Champlain Canal in 1823. Only one other site that may be of this type is known; Wreck XX, a lake sloop, located in the 2000 Lake Survey. Wreck QQQ may also meet Criterion C: Design, Construction, and Work of a Master. The study of Wreck QQQ has the potential to yield important information on shipbuilding techniques used in Lake Champlain’s early commercial period. The surviving portion of the wreck appears to retain significant integrity.

Information Source: 
Adam I. Kane, Christopher R. Sabick and Sara R. Brigadier, Lake Champlain Underwater Cultural Resources Survey, Volume VI: 2001 Results and Volume VII: 2002 Results. Lake Champlain Maritime Museum, 2003.