- Dates: ca. 1915-1920
- Size: 300+ artifacts and associated conservation records; 200+ field notes, drawings, inkings, photographs, and videos associated with fieldwork at the site
- Media: paper; drafting film; photographs; video; sonar readings; archaeologically recovered material (iron; copper; pewter; tin; ceramic; glass; wood; leather; enameled ware; textile; shell; linoleum; silver; composite artifacts; flora and fauna (grape seeds))
- Language: English
- Subjects: Canal Era
- Related Publications: Sloop Island Canal Boat Study: Phase III Archaeological Investigation in Connection with the Environmental Remediation of the Pine Street Canal Superfund Site (Lake Champlain Maritime Museum, 2010); Lake Champlain Underwater Cultural Resources Lake Survey (Lake Champlain Maritime Museum, 1996-2003); “With Their Homes About Them: Lake Champlain’s Canal Boat Community, 1870-1940 (Scott McLaughlin, Binghamton University, 2011).
- Access and Use: Some materials in the Sloop Island Canal Boat Collection are extremely fragile and should be handled with care.
Scope and Content
The Sloop Island Canal Boat Collection consists of the archaeological research files and artifacts discovered during the Phase III Archaeological Investigation in connection with the Environmental Remediation of the Pine Street Canal Superfund Site. Archaeological divers excavated the Sloop Island Canal Boat site over the course of 10 weeks between 2002 and 2003. The project was designed to investigate an unidentified 1873-class canal boat and its immediate surroundings in 85 feet of water near Charlotte, VT, and over the course of study, more than 300 artifacts of various media were recovered, and thousands of field notes, drawings, inkings, photographs, and video recordings of the site and artifacts were produced. Artifacts of note include a sample of the coal cargo the vessel carried when it sank; damaged pieces of a man’s wool coat; a caned armed rocking chair; a gasoline torch; and a stove leg, along with several hundred pieces reflective of a domestic living space, including dishware, flat ware, alcohol bottles, and a corkscrew. Recovered archaeological artifacts were conserved in-house at the Museum. The nature of these objects reveal that a man, woman, and at least one child were living on board the vessel when it sank. Fortunately, there was no evidence that anyone perished in the accident.
Together these materials tell some of the still-emerging story of the lives of the people who operated canal boats throughout the 19th and early 20th centuries. This research contributed to Dr. Scott McLaughlin’s dissertation, “With Their Homes About Them: Lake Champlain’s Canal Boat Community, 1870-1940 (2011), which explores the working and personal lives of canal boat families throughout this period.
Artifact typology has narrowed the potential dates for the sinking of this vessel to between 1915 and 1920. Based on its extant dimensions, the Sloop Island Canal Boat was built after the 1873 expansion of the canal. To date, there is no known historic record which might identify the boat and the larger story of its owners. The public is encouraged to contact the Museum with any information they may have about this canal boat or a similar vessel.
Sloop Island Canal Boat Collection, Lake Champlain Maritime Museum, Vergennes, VT.
Canal; canal boat; Sloop Island; coal; Canal Era; shipwreck; archaeology; canal families; Museum-generated research; Museum-conserved artifacts