Vermont awarded Maritime Heritage Grant for Lake Champlain’s canal boat history

VermontBiz The National Park Service awarded $2 million in maritime heritage grants to assist twelve projects in nine states. Vermont was granted $30,000 for the documentation of the canal boat history of Lake Champlain. The grants are provided in partnership with the U.S. Department of Transportation’s maritime Administration (MARAD) for education programs and projects that preserve sites and objects related to our nation’s maritime history. The program does not use federal tax dollars and instead is funded by recycling vessels from the MARAD’s National Defense Reserve Fleet.

“The Canal Boat History project will aid in the preservation and education of Vermont’s maritime history,” said State Historic Preservation Officer Laura V. Trieschmann. “The documentation will be used to teach our maritime history, furthering our protection and appreciation of Lake Champlain.

The Vermont Division for Historic Preservation shall be partnering with the Lake Champlain Maritime Museum, the state’s official repository for underwater archaeological artifacts. The project scope includes adding all canal boat shipwrecks and the nine Underwater Preserve Sites to the Vermont Archaeological Inventory, preparation of a National Register of Historic Places nomination for Providence Island Canal Sloop and digitizing the canal boat archival collection.

“The support provided by the National Park Service through this Maritime Heritage Grant will allow us to raise awareness of the importance of the canal systems to the regional history and economy during the 200th anniversary commemorations of the canal opening,” says Chris Sabick, Interim Co-Director of the Lake Champlain Maritime Museum. “Lake Champlain preserves an incredible historical record in the form of canal boat shipwrecks, and this project will make the archeological work completed on these sites more accessible to student and researchers alike.”

All underwater historic sites in Lake Champlain belong in public trust to the people of the respective states in whose water they lie. The Lake Champlain Underwater Historic Preserves, founded in 1982, provides public access for divers to some of the Lake’s historic shipwrecks. The Vermont Survey Archaeologist supervises the program with the aid of the Lake Champlain Maritime Museum, U.S. Coast Guard, Vermont State Archaeologist, State of New York officials, and a team of dedicated professionals who volunteer their expertise and time. Essential to the success of the program is the public partnership, with registered divers identifying and monitoring these preserves. The significance of this program is growing rapidly as social media educates and attracts the diving public to our Underwater Historic Preserves. Nine sites in Vermont are currently open for the diving public to visit, including the late 19th- and early-20th-century wreckage of canal boats, steamboats, sailing vessels, a schooner, and a horse ferry. With the continued cooperation of the recreational diving community, these wrecks will be available for generations of divers to enjoy.