In June 1994, the Lake Champlain Maritime Museum, in cooperation with Middlebury College, carried out a side scan sonar survey in the Barbers Point, New York, and Potash Point, Vermont area. One of the principal goals of this survey was to locate the remains of the canal boat L.A. Hall that had reportedly sunk in this area in 1878.
Perspective drawing of L.A. Hall. Drawn by Kevin Crisman.
L. A. Hall, a standard canal boat, was built in Whitehall New York in 1867. The vessel measured 85ft 6in (26.1m) in length, 14ft 8in (4.5m) in beam, and 5ft 9in (1.75) depth of hold, giving her a tonnage of 62.85 tons. On October 30, 1878 L.A. Hall, under the command of Captain Kane, was in tow behind the steam tug John F. Winslow. The canal boat was carrying 100 tons (90.9 metric tons) of pig iron loaded onto her decks. Around midnight Captain Kane and his son were jolted awake by a horrible crashing sound. They ran out of the stern cabin to find that a portion of the pig iron had collapsed the deck of the canal boat, and gone through the vessel’s bottom. Kane and his son escaped only moments before the vessel sank to the bottom.
The remains of the vessel were relocated in deep water on June 22, 1994 during the LCMM’s sonar survey. While the location, depth, and sonar image of the site suggested that the vessel found was L. A. Hall it was not until an ROV videotaped stacked piles of pig iron on the wreck’s deck that the tentative identification was confirmed. The ROV also substantiated the catastrophic event that sent the canal boat to the bottom. It appears that the iron stacked amidships collapsed through the decking carrying a large portion of the port side of the vessel with it. The roof of the stern cabin is also missing; it most likely floated away as the canal boat settled to the bottom. Due to the vessel’s rapid demise it is hypothesized that it contains an extensive collection of artifacts and therefore may be revisited in the future for further archaeological analysis.
Adam I. Kane and Christopher R. Sabick, Lake Champlain Underwater Cultural Resources Survey, Volume IV: 1999 Results and Volume V: 2000 Results. Lake Champlain Maritime Museum, 2002.