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Reconstruction of the early 19th-Century Lake Champlain Steamboat Phoenix

Author(s): George Schwarz

Year: 2014

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Launched in the spring of 1815, the Lake Champlain steamboat Phoenix operated as a passenger vessel for five seasons until the fall of 1819, when she tragically burned to the waterline en route to Quebec with 46 persons on board and sank off Colchester Shoal, Vermont. During the summers of 2009 and 2010 an archaeological investigation was undertaken to document the steamer’s hull and associated artifacts. The intention of the study was to advance our knowledge of early steamboat development by gathering enough evidence for the vessel’s reconstruction. As the earliest-known extant archaeological example of a steamboat in North America, the study of Phoenix’s 200-year old hull remains offered an opportunity to gain new data related to steamboat design, construction, and use on the region’s northern lakes and rivers. This presentation summarizes the results of the research project and focuses on Phoenix’s conception, operation, sinking, archaeological investigations, and recent reconstruction.

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Reconstruction of the early 19th-Century Lake Champlain Steamboat Phoenix. George Schwarz. Presented at Society for Historical Archaeology, Quebec City, Quebec, Canada. 2014 ( tDAR id: 436978)

Record Identifiers

PaperId(s): SYM-44,01

Arizona State University The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation National Science Foundation National Endowment for the Humanities Society for American Archaeology Archaeological Institute of America