Shipwreck Tour: General Butler

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 General Butler.

The General Butler was built in 1862 in Essex, New York. The schooner-rigged Butler is an example of a Lake Champlain sailing canal boat designed to sail on the lake or be towed though the Champlain Canal. On its final voyage on December 9, 1876, General Butler was under the command of Captain William Montgomery of Isle La Motte. A powerful winter gale struck and upon approaching Burlington, Butler’s steering mechanism broke.

We’ve paired our underwater tour of the wreck with General Butler’s dramatic tale as narrated by Erick Tichonuk. This audio was recorded in 2009 by VPR and broadcast on July 31, 2009 as part of VPR’s “History Under the Waves,” Champlain 400 coverage.

Sit back and dive in with us!

Learn more about General Butler and the dramatic and heroic events around its sinking here.