The Search for MacDonough’s Shipyard

In September of 1814 the American Naval Fleet on Lake Champlain, commanded by Commodore Thomas MacDonough fought and defeated the British Royal Navy at the Battle of Plattsburgh Bay.  This conflict included the largest sailing vessels to ever operate on the Lake.  But where were these massive American vessels built? 

It is well known that MacDonough had established a shipyard somewhere below the falls on the Otter Creek in Vergennes, Vermont, but where exactly in Vergennes this massive construction project took place has remained a mystery. 

The presentation below, featuring Chris Sabick, Director of Research and Archaeology, lays out the methods and results of a 2009 archaeological effort to conclusively locate MacDonough’s shipyard on the banks of Otter Creek.  The Archaeology team at Lake Champlain Maritime Museum, supported by a National Park Service’s American Battlefield Protection Program Grant, carried out a two week-long land archaeology project searching for the shipyard.