Did you know that there are hundreds of shipwrecks in Lake Champlain? The Lake Champlain Underwater Historic Preserve was established by the Vermont Division of Historic Preservation to protect these irreplaceable resources from harm, preserve them for future generations, and provide public access for divers and the public. The Archaeology team at Lake Champlain Maritime Museum manages these sites.
Today, we’re bringing you on a virtual tour of one of these famous wrecks: the Champlain II.
The Champlain II was originally named the Oakes Ames when it was launched in Burlington in 1868. It was built to ferry railroad cars from Burlington to Plattsburgh. In 1874, the Champlain Transportation Co. converted Oakes Ames into one of the line vessels for passenger transport and renamed it the Champlain II. Champlain II‘s career ended on the night of July 16, 1875.
While at dock in Westport, NY, the pilots changed shifts with John Eldredge taking over the wheel from Ell Rockwell. The Champlain II headed north out of Westport, and a short time later the enormous steamer ran aground near Barn Rock.
We’ve paired our underwater footage of the wreck with Champlain II’s dramatic tale as narrated by Adam Kane. This audio was recorded in 2009 by VPR and broadcast on July 30, 2009 as part of VPR’s “History Under the Waves,” Champlain 400 coverage.
Want to see more of this shipwreck in person but don’t know how to dive? Join us for an ROV (Remote Operated Vehicle) tour of the Champlain II this summer or fall! The wreck site is not far from our Museum campus so once a month we take the cruise boat EScape to the site and use our underwater ROV equipped with a live video camera to “dive” underwater and explore as the ROV sends back real-time footage. Details and dates here: https://www.eventbrite.com/o/lcmm-rov-shipwreck-tours-14192484796
Top image: Champlain II aground at the Split Rock Mountain Range, NY, July 1875. University of Vermont, Silver Special Collections Library.