Building the Lois McClure

Construction of Lois McClure began in earnest in 2002 at the Lake Champlain Transportation Company’s Burlington Shipyard, shortly after the building of her tender, Mac. Starting with a set of 1842 plans and two shipwrecks in Burlington Harbor, the Museum turned to a talented group of naval architects, historians, and archaeologists. Both General Butler and O.J. Walker have been studied and documented. These reports were handed over to naval architect Ron A. Smith, to combine the earlier plans with the shipwreck reports to create the plans necessary to build Lois McClure.

Shipwrights Paul Rollins, Rob Thompson, Steve Page, and Lianna Tennal headed up the large team of volunteers and staff, who spent three seasons constructing the schooner while keeping the space open for visitors to view the work in progress. The hull was built from more than 20,000 feet of white oak. White pine was used for the decks, while masts, booms, and gaff were hewn from white spruce. This wood was nearly all local: white spruce from Vermont, white oak from Vermont and New York, pine from Vermont and Maine, cedar from Maine, and even recycled Mahogany from NASA.

But our greatest resource was (and still is) our volunteers: over ten thousand hours of time were donated by our tireless volunteers to build and interpret this fascinating vessel. The schooner is named in honor of Lois McClure, who, along with her husband Mac, has been a major contributor to this and many other worthy community projects in the greater Burlington, VT area.

Lois McClure specs:

  • Length: 88 feet
  • Beam: 14.5 feet
  • Cargo Capacity: 4400 cubic feet
  • Cargo Weight: 60 – 120 tons
  • Sail Plan: Mainsail 1309 square feet; Foresail 768 square feet; Jib 196 square feet