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Virtual Archaeology Conference

February 16, 2023 , 1:00 pm 4:30 pm


Join us for the second annual Virtual Archaeology Conference and tune in as the Museum’s archaeology team and research partners share new developments and latest discoveries in their work in Lake Champlain.

Highlights include presentations on the latest findings from our research at the Revolutionary War battlefield at Arnold’s Bay, ROV-based photogrammetry, archaeological analysis of the paddlewheels from the steamboat Phoenix and the gunboat Spitfire, and exciting new information about Benedict Arnold’s 1776 flagship, the row galley Congress.

There will be four presentations with brief time for comments and questions in between each, and the group will end the virtual conference with a live Q & A for all participants. This virtual conference will be presented on Zoom Webinars and is free to attend. Please register in advance to receive the direct conference link by using any of the “Register Now” buttons. For accessibility requests please contact us by email at info@lcmm.org or by phone at 802-475-2022.

Featured image: “Congress Escaping, Ferris Bay Oct. 1776,” painting, Ernest Haas, 2013. Lake Champlain Maritime Museum Collection.

Virtual Archaeology Conference Schedule

Welcome and Introduction
Susan Evans McClure, Executive Director, Lake Champlain Maritime Museum

ROV-based Photogrammetry Survey Methodology and its Application to the Gunboat Spitfire
Chris Sabick, Director of Research and Archaeology, Lake Champlain Maritime Museum
Dr. Kotaro Yamafune, President, APPARATUS, LLC

In the past 5 years small ROVs, or underwater drones, have become an inexpensive and accessible survey tool for maritime archaeologists. In this presentation, learn about the possibility of using these affordable underwater drones for photogrammetry surveys on underwater archaeological sites. The Revolutionary War gunboat Spitfire will be used as a case study in the application of this technology and will demonstrate the impressive results that it can generate as we share the recently completed photogrammetry survey information and new 3D model.

Paddlewheels Ahoy! Archaeology of the Oldest Existing Steam Propulsion System
Dr. George Schwartz, Underwater Archaeologist, US Navy History and Heritage Command

Phoenix (1814-1819) is the earliest archaeologically-studied steamboat. Phoenix operated for five seasons until it suddenly burned and sank in Lake Champlain in September 1819. In the 2010s, the hull was documented and studied by the Institute of Nautical Archaeology (INA) and the Lake Champlain Maritime Museum, but no sign of the paddlewheels were found. Then, in September 2020, lake surveyor Gary Lefebvre encountered two large half-buried disks 3/4 of a mile from the Phoenix wreck site. The research team is documenting these disarticulated paddlewheels and studying their connection to Phoenix. These remains are believed to be the earliest-known paddlewheels in existence and represent a technology that ushered in a worldwide transportation revolution. The project aims to integrate the research results into the hull reconstruction and expand our limited knowledge of early steam propulsion technology.

Arnold’s Bay Research Project: Underwater Research and Findings
Cherilyn Gilligan, Assistant Director of Archaeology, Lake Champlain Maritime Museum

In 2020, Lake Champlain Maritime Museum was awarded a National Park Service, American Battlefield Protection Program grant to survey the American Revolutionary battlefield in Arnold’s Bay, in Panton, Vermont. General Benedict Arnold burned the remaining vessels of the American fleet at this site to prevent their capture by the British in 1776. Research goals for this project are to use metal detection underwater and on land to define site boundaries and locate battlefield features. This presentation will focus on the 2022 dive season, present our latest findings, and share some preliminary analyses from the new archaeological research being conducted at this site for the first time in 35 years.

Howitzer Cannons and their Role in the Revolutionary War on Lake Champlain: Archaeological Research Unveils a Key New Detail in Arnold’s Bay
Edwin Scollon, Research Associate, Lake Champlain Maritime Museum

In October 1776, control of Lake Champlain was contested by British and American forces through a series of naval engagements over the course of three days. Those engagements took place between New York’s Valcour Bay and Vermont’s Ferris Bay. From surveys of Valcour Bay between 1999 and 2006, Lake Champlain Maritime Museum researchers uncovered ample archaeological evidence of the British use of howitzer cannons during that crucial, first day of battle. In the Museum’s 2022 survey of what is now known Arnold’s Bay, Museum researchers would discover evidence that the American Navy also had a howitzer at their disposal; a fact that was lost to history until now. Museum Research Associate Ed Scollon will discuss how this discovery was brought to light. He will also discuss the use and advantages of howitzer deployment among the fleets and how the American howitzer may have helped deprive the British of Arnold’s flagship, Congress, as a prize of war.

Benedict Arnold’s 1776 Flagship Congress: Initial Excavation
Chris Sabick, Director of Research and Archaeology, Lake Champlain Maritime Museum

During the 2022 fall fieldwork in Arnold’s Bay, Museum researchers had the opportunity to excavate a single trench across a portion of the Row Galley Congress hull remains. This initial excavation trench revealed a number of important structure elements of this poorly understood vessel type. In this presentation, Director of Research and Archaeology Chris Sabick will examine the vessel components exposed during the excavations, what they can tell us about the construction of Benedict Arnold’s flagship and what they suggest we might find as excavations continue in 2023.

Live Q & A with Lake Champlain Maritime Museum’s Archaeology team
Christopher Sabick, Cherilyn Gilligan, Edwin Scollon, and Dr. George Schwartz

This program is brought to you with generous support from:

Champlain Valley National Heritage Partnership

National Park Service American Battlefield Protection Program

Geoff and Susan Nelson

Vermont Arts Council

Vermont Humanities

Zoom Webinar