Lake Champlain's Sailing Canal Boats

Lake Champlain’s Sailing Canal Boats

This summer, residems of the Champlain and Hudson Valleys will have.

an opportuniry to experience a piece of theirhistory not seen for more than a cemury.

In July 2004, the Lake Champlain Maritime Museum launched an 88-foot-long replica canal schooner.

Named for a great friend to LCMM and a magnanimous citizen of Vermont, Lois.

McClure was designed to provide a new window into the working-class world of these nineteenth-century freight haulers and the people who operated them.

When the first archaeological example of a Lake Champlain sailing canal boat was found in 1980,

this vessel type and the mariners who operated them had been all but forgotten.

Lake Champlain’s Sailing Canal Boats More than three decades of research, both underwater and in archives,

now provide an understanding of these past equivalents of long-haul tractor-trailers and the society of mariners who operated them.

Unlike today’s trucker, canalers often traveled wirh rheir families, and rhe canal boars served as rheir homes.

Our story begins just prior to 1823, the year the Champlain (or Northern) Canal was completed.

This 63-mile New York State-funded canal permitted newlydesigned watercraft to pass between Lake Champlain and rhe Hudson River,

linking Champlain Valley products with Hudson Valley marketplaces and beyond through rhe Port of New York.

On Lake Champlain it triggered the beginning of the region’s most dynamic commercial growth and, in conjunction wirh the Erie Canal completed just two years larer,

Lake Champlain’s Sailing Canal Boats ir established New York City as rhe most dynamic commercial harbor in rhe United States.

Over the next century, canal boars, borh sailing vessels and the more numerous towed canal boats, were an everyday sighr on Lake Champlain.

Even after rhe proliferation of railroads, canal boars continued to operate as rhe backbone of rhe region’s commercial freight system.

Wirh rhe completion of the Canadian Chambly Canal (1843), rhe Northern Waterway became a veritable maritime inrersrare system on which canalers regularly moved cargoes between New York Ciry and Canada.

At its height, there were thousands of towed canal boars and several hundred sailing canal boars in operation.

By the time of the Grear Depression, the canal boat era was already over.

A way of life soon faded into rhe pasr and our of memory.

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