The coal barge shipwreck represents perhaps the most common type of commercial vessel that operated on Lake Champlain and its related canal systems. The standard canal boat first appeared in 1823 with the opening of the Champlain Canal. These craft rapidly increased in numbers throughout the nineteenth century and operated on the lake into the early 1900s. Standard canal boats had no independent means of propulsion. On lakes and rivers, they had to be towed by steam vessels and on canals they were moved by horse and mule. Canal boats frequently were the homes of families of “canalers” who lived on the boats and traveled from place to place transporting cargoes and to earn a living. Long trains of canal boats could still be seen on the lake at the beginning of the 20th century, but disappeared due to competition from railroads and overland transportation.
Line drawing of Standard Canal Boat A.R. Noyes
It is possible that the coal barge wreck site is the A.R. Noyes. The A.R. Noyes was believed to have sunk on October 17, 1884, when a number of canal boats broke loose from the steam tug Tisdale which was towing them on their way to Burlington. The A.R. Noyes was the only one reported lost.
Features of Interest
- Size of wreck: 90′ long; 14′ wide
- The rudder and rudder post are visible on the stern, facing up the slope towards Proctor Shoal.
- In the cargo area, there are remnants of a mule towing apparatus crushed and partially buried by the impact of the shifting cargo of coal.
- Experience level: Advanced
- Depth of water : 60′ (stern) – 80′ (bow)
- The vessel rests on a gradual slope and extremely silty bottom. Control your buoyancy. Stay off the bottom to avoid low visibility conditions.
- Underwater lights are necessary.
- This wreck is extremely fragile, all effort should be made to avoid contact.
- DO NOT PENETRATE THE WRECK!
- EXTREMELY SILTY BOTTOM
- 44 27′ 15.599″N 073 14′ 45.60″W
- Just north of the Coast Guard’s navigational buoy on Proctor Shoal.