Standard Canal Boat “Mule Wreck” (Wreck EE)

Wreck EE, located during the 1999 sonar survey is a standard canal boat that has come to rest in well over 100ft (30.5m) of water. Because the vessel’s remains are located in water beyond recreational diving limits, the site was examined with an ROV during the 1999 field season. The vessel is well preserved and appears to have sunk unexpectedly.

Plan drawing of Canal Boat “Mule Wreck”. Drawn by Chris Sabick, Lake Champlain Maritime Museum.

The canal boat lies slightly down by the bow on an upright level keel. The vessel’s stern cabin is intact, though all glass has broken from the cabin’s windows. Access to the living quarters was through a companionway on the port side of the enclosure. Access to the hold was through five large hatches that dominate the deck. While no cargo is readily apparent in the hold, ROV examination of the forward openings revealed a number of barrels protruding from the thick silt. A composite wood and iron windlass was found on the bow. Two large bits and the breasthook support it. Just aft of the windlass is a small hatch that provided access to the forecastle. The bow is extremely bluff with the planks attaching to the stem at nearly right angles. Both the exposed forward surface of the stem and five rub rails are reinforced with iron strips.

Sonar image of the “Mule Wreck”.

While the intact nature of this site is impressive, the wreck’s most distinguishing features are piles of items strewn on deck. At first these appeared to be random piles of silt, however, closer examination with the ROV revealed that they were in fact large piles of animal bones. They appear to be the remains of either horses or mules, and the site has been unofficially christened the “Mule Wreck.” The piles of bones are found around the stern cabin and in two piles along the sides of the vessel. There are also two large mounds of silt between the hatches; it is unclear if these piles are also bones or contain other artifacts. It seems likely that a large number of farm animals were the principal cargo on the canal boat at the time of its sinking.

Historic research is continuing and it is hoped that information and possibly identification of this vessel can be made in the future. Its pristine state of preservation and interesting artifact assemblage make this site an archeologically important and sensitive site.

Information Source :
Kane, A. and C. Sabick, Lake Champlain Underwater Cultural Resources Survey, Volume IV: 1999 Results and Volume V: 2000 Results. Lake Champlain Maritime Museum, 2002.