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Sloop Island Canal Boat Study: Phase III Archaeological Investigation in Connection with the Environmental Remediation of the Pine Street Canal Superfund Site

Author(s): Adam I. Kane ; Joanne M. Dennis ; Scott A. McLaughlin ; Christopher R. Sabick

Year: 2010

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This report presents the results of a Phase III archaeological investigation of the Sloop Island Canal Boat submerged in the Charlotte, Chittenden County, Vermont waters of Lake Champlain. The archaeological study was undertaken as an off-site mitigation in connection with the Pine Street Canal Superfund site, located in Burlington, Vermont. The archaeological fieldwork at the Sloop Island Canal Boat was conducted during ten weeks in 2002 and 2003 by the Lake Champlain Maritime Museum and included over 400 SCUBA dives on the site.

Located below 85 feet of water on the bottom of Lake Champlain, the Sloop Island Canal Boat wreck is well preserved despite over 90 years on the lake bottom. The archaeological investigations at this site centered around two primary tasks: recording and recovering the artifact collection in the cabin and documenting the vessel’s structure. Each of these tasks enabled researches to identify the vessel type and use life, as well as the possible character of those who lived aboard. The archaeological study of this vessel indicated that the vessel is an 1873 class canal boat and it likely sank between 1915 and 1920. The sinking of the vessel occurred while it was traveling northbound on Lake Champlain with a load of Pennsylvania bituminous coal. Archaeological evidence suggests that this event likely happened at night. The artifacts in the cabin also suggest that the vessel was occupied by a nuclear family that included a mother, father and possibly one child. Additional historical and archival documents, as well as oral histories, complimented and supplemented this study. These records allowed a more holistic perspective on what canal boat life may have been like for those that lived onboard these working and domesticated vessels. The Sloop Island Canal Boat site (VT-CH-843) was nominated to the National Register of Historic Places under Criteria A, C, and D in 2010 and was opened as a Vermont State Underwater Preserve site in 2006.

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Cite this Record

Sloop Island Canal Boat Study: Phase III Archaeological Investigation in Connection with the Environmental Remediation of the Pine Street Canal Superfund Site. Adam I. Kane, Joanne M. Dennis, Scott A. McLaughlin, Christopher R. Sabick. Vergennes, Vermont: Lake Champlain Maritime Museum. 2010 ( tDAR id: 390873) ; doi:10.6067/XCV8319XGQ


Temporal Coverage

Calendar Date: 1873 to 1920 (The canal boat was constructed sometime during or after 1873 and sank between 1915 and 1920)

Spatial Coverage

min long: -73.394; min lat: 44.233 ; max long: -73.015; max lat: 44.61 ;

Individual & Institutional Roles

Field Director(s): Adam I. Kane

Principal Investigator(s): Arthur B. Cohn

Landowner(s): Vermont Division For Historic Preservation

Sponsor(s): Green Mountain Power ; National Grid USA Service Company, Inc. ; Vermont Gas Systems, Inc.

Permitting Agency(s): Vermont Division For Historic Preservation

Repository(s): Lake Champlain Maritime Museum

Prepared By(s): Lake Champlain Maritime Museum

Submitted To(s): Environmental Protection Agency, Boston MA ; Vermont Division For Historic Preservation

Record Identifiers

Permit No. (s): 2002-01

File Information

  Name Size Creation Date Date Uploaded Access
sloop-island-canal-boat-study.pdf 27.49mb Mar 14, 2013 4:58:48 PM Public
Arizona State University The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation National Science Foundation National Endowment for the Humanities Society for American Archaeology Archaeological Institute of America