Lake Champlain Maritime Museum Hosts Award-Winning Author Nathaniel Philbrick  


For Information Contact: Eloise Beil, Community Relations Manager, Lake Champlain Maritime Museum (802) 475-2022 ext. 107
For event tickets, please click here. 

PhilbrickOn Tuesday, June 7, award-winning author Nathaniel Philbrick makes a special appearance in Burlington in support of Lake Champlain Maritime Museum (LCMM)’s education programs. The event celebrates the release of Philbrick’s new book, Valiant Ambition: George Washington, Benedict Arnold, and the Fate of the American Revolution. “Lake Champlain Maritime Museum is delighted to celebrate the publication of this new work,” comments LCMM Executive Director Mike Smiles. “Nathaniel Philbrick puts this important Champlain Valley story into its national context.” The program, which includes book signing, lecture and reception, will be held at the Main Street Landing Performing Arts Center at 60 Lake Street, Burlington. Seating is limited and reservations are required; tickets are available online at or by phone 802 475-2022.

Released in May, Philbrick’s book has brought renewed national attention to Lake Champlain’s part in the American struggle for independence, and the tragic relationship of George Washington and Benedict Arnold. In September 1776, the vulnerable Continental army under novice commander George Washington evacuated New York. Three weeks later, Benedict Arnold’s hastily assembled American fleet miraculously succeeded in postponing the British naval advance down Lake Champlain. Although Washington relied on Arnold as a trusted and brilliant officer, the ending of the story is common knowledge: Arnold’s decision to transfer his allegiance to the British made his name synonymous with traitor. Reexamining the crucial period in which the hero of Valcour Island became embittered and alienated while the emerging nation struggled to figure out how it should be led, Philbrick’s narrative is a timely reminder that the real threat to American liberties sometimes comes from within.

phil_sailIn 1991, LCMM staff and volunteers built a full-sized, working replica of Benedict Arnold’s gunboat Philadelphia. The vessel remains the most popular exhibit at the Museum campus. In 1997, the Museum’s team of nautical archaeologists located the last missing gunboat from Arnold’s fleet upright and intact at the bottom of the lake; LCMM co-founder and Director Emeritus Art Cohn continues to work with the U. S. Navy on planning for the future of the historic shipwreck. Artifacts in LCMM’s Key to Liberty exhibit reveal numerous other personal stories uncovered by the Museum’s archaeological fieldwork and research: fragments of the cannon that exploded on the gunboat New York, killing 26 year old Lt. Thomas Rogers, are displayed alongside a replica of the gravestone erected by “his grieving widow Molly.” The struggles of Jeduthan Baldwin, engineer in charge of building the log bridge across the lake in the winter of 1777 accompany a massive timber that recently washed up on the lake shore; the recollections of Bayze Wells, from Farmington, Connecticut, who kept a journal of his experiences on board one of Arnold’s gunboats have become the soundtrack of a video about the battle.


5 Kinds of Boats You’ll See at LCMM Summer Camps!

Summer is finally on its way to Lake Champlain, and with it, our Lake Adventure Camps! Here at the museum, we’re all busy preparing fun activities for kids from 7-16. As a maritime museum, boats are our favorite resource, and we use several different types of them in our summer camps.

5. Powerboats


They might not be pretty, but they certainly are useful. First developed in 1886, motorboats have rapidly become one of the most popular methods of nautical transportation. We use them to teach safe, respectful boating skills and to just have fun on the water!

4. Canoes

Berube - pairs of canoes in Button Bay 907

Canoes are the oldest form of watercraft on Lake Champlain, and have been used by the lake’s first navigators – its Native American inhabitants – for thousands of years. Because canoes allow their pilot to move quietly and near to the surface of the water, the museum uses them for our On-water Ecology programs to get as close as possible to what we’re studying.

3. Rowing gigs


We’re particularly proud of our pilot gigs, built here at the museum by our students in the Champlain Longboats Program. Every year, students of all backgrounds come to the museum to participate in an intensive boat-building program that develops teamwork and self-esteem together with building skills – and ultimately produce a gig for our rowing programs. It’s happening now – Launch Day is May 26! You can read about some of our previous rowing adventures here.

2. EScape

Champlain II Highlights.Still015

We use the Basin Harbor Club’s tour boat Escape to view the wreck of the Champlain II, one of the last remnants of the age of steam, a bygone era when elegant steamboats traversed Lake Champlain for industry and pleasure. Our campers get to build a ROV (remotely operated vehicle) able to navigate underwater like the ones on our Shipwreck Tours, where we view one of the 300 shipwrecks at the bottom of Lake Champlain without getting wet!

1. Sailboats

Rowing Toward PII hi-res Bessette

LCMM summer camps allow kids to build, sail, or “learn the ropes” aboard an impressive range of vessels, from a two-foot pond yacht to a Revolutionary War gunboat! The pride of our fleet is the Philadelphia II, a historic replica of the gunboat that sank in action at the Battle of Valcour Island in 1776. Learn more about the Philadelphia’s history and the construction of our replica here.

If you’re enrolled in Messing About With Boats, All Aboard!, or our Boating Safety Course, you can expect to see all these boats and more! Why not sign up today?

Benedict Arnold’s Legacy: Tales from Lake Champlain

by Richard Watts, Ph.D. Director: Center for Research on Vermont, UVM

Engraving of Arnold, by H.B. Hall, after John Trumbull

Join LCMM Co-Founder and Director Emeritus Arthur B. Cohn for a talk on May 11, 7:30, at Waterman Memorial Lounge, University of Vermont.

In this talk Art Cohn will examine Lake Champlain’s historical connection to the American Revolution and the fighting field-commander Benedict Arnold. The centerpiece of the presentation will be the pivotal 1776 naval contest between Great Britain, at the time the greatest Naval power on earth, and the fledgling United States of America. The American fleet was under the command of the intense, charismatic and flawed General Benedict Arnold when the two fleets met on October 11th, 1776 for a battle that would help define the outcome of the war. The two combatants fought over three days and 70 miles of Lake Champlain. Art will offer new insight into the often-debated question of whether Benedict Arnold was a “Hero or Traitor.”


The talk will follow the Annual Meeting & Dinner of the Center for Research on Vermont. The public is welcome. Information here or at the Center for Research on Vermont.

Archeological Legacy: Art will also discuss the archaeological legacy of this battle for control of strategic Lake Champlain. The talk will present the 1997 discovery of the gunboat Spitfire, Arnold’s last gunboat unaccounted for after the Battle of Valcour Island, and the complex management plan being completed to decide its future. The talk will invite the audience to offer opinions about what should happen to the warship.

Avday_DSC_4133bout Art: Art Cohn has been studying Benedict Arnold for many years and is currently a Research Fellow at the William Clements Library at the University of Michigan examining the Sir Henry Clinton Papers for clues that will increase our understanding of the war and its participants. Founder and first director of the Lake Champlain Maritime Museum, professional diver and tugboat captain, Art has coordinated and participated in Lake Champlain’s archaeological projects for the past three decades. Cohn has a B.A. in sociology from the University of Cincinnati and a J.D. from Boston College Law School.

Sponsored by Special Collections at Bailey-Howe, Lake Champlain Maritime Museum & the Center for Research on Vermont. 


Let’s Go Fishing!

By Erin Sward

KLJ_2615In March, Ecology Programs Director Elizabeth Lee and I participated in Vermont Fish and Wildlife Department’s Let’s Go Fishing program. In short, the Let’s Go Fishing program is a network of volunteer instructors who encourage and teach people of all ages how to fish. Let’s Go Fishing, emphasizes that fishing is more than just catching fish. Fishing is a great way to educate people about water ecology. By teaching ethics and proper fishing techniques, participants develop an appreciation for Vermont’s fish population and habitat.

KLJ_2656What’s neat about the Let’s Go Fishing program is that there is a direct correlation to the LCMM’s “Messing About With Fish” Adventure Camp for youth ages 7-9, June 20-24 at our Vergennes campus. Becoming certified Let’s Go Fishing volunteers expands our ability to teach fellow fish lovers how to protect our fishy resources. Let’s Go fishing will provide the LCMM with a great collection of fishing rods and activities to add to the snorkeling gear, seine nets and tackle that we already use during school field trips and afterschool programs. These resources, paired with the LCMM’s Remotely Operated Vehicle (ROV), will give campers the opportunity to look into the deep and identify which fish are swimming where we swim.

KLJ_2517Our thanks to Alison Thomas and Corey Hart at VT Fish and Wildlife Department for running a great training—well-organized, informative, fun and on time! It was nice to meet other Let’s Go Fishing volunteers, including long-time volunteer Karl Hubbard, who helped with LCMM’s watershed education teacher training in 2014. To find out more about Let’s Go Fishing visit VT Fish and Wildlife website.

To register for Messing About with Fish” or other summer programs visit us at LCMM’s website.

Tree Time

By Eloise Beil on April 26, 2016

White Oak seedlings 2
White oak seedlings. Photo by Jennifer Pauk

Earth Day (April 22), for many people the best known part of National Environmental Education Week (April 17-23), is a wonderful time to be thinking about trees. For weeks as we make the transition from winter to spring, the first buds on the trees transform the monochrome landscape with a flush of yellow, green, or red – more subtle than foliage season, but such a boost to the spirits!

This year, spring also brought Lake Champlain Maritime Museum (LCMM) some wonderful photographs of White Oak seedlings from George Pauk. The seedlings are growing in Washington DC at the home of his daughter and granddaughter – and some of them are destined for the Champlain Valley. These particular seedlings represent a new beginning: a partnership between LCMM and Vermont Family Forests that will involve students in the Champlain Valley and beyond, visiting some of the places where mature White Oak trees can be found, and seeking places where White Oaks used to grow, and might again.

White Oaks have a special place in many of the stories that we tell at Lake Champlain Maritime Museum, because they were long prized for ship building. The gunboats in Benedict Arnold’s 1776 fleet were constructed of white oak framing and planks, with masts of lighter-weight pine and ash sweeps (oars). After the Revolutionary War, Levi Allen, who had moved to Canada, contracted to deliver Champlain Valley timber to Quebec firms. A December 1785 order included 20,000 cubic feet of squared white oak, and 10,000 cubic feet of white oak pipe staves – the raw material used for rot-resistant wooden water pipes. Between logging for market, clearing for farmland and fuel, the vast old growth forests of the region vanished. In 2000, when we began work on our replica 1862 canal schooner Lois McClure, there was not enough local White Oak for the project, bringing the connection between preserving our heritage and preserving our environment into sharp focus.

One of my favorite landmarks on the daily drive along Basin Harbor Road to the Maritime Museum has always been a pair of open fields, each with a single oak tree. The scene inspired my 2003 painting White Oaks, Winter – one of a series called “Vanishing Points,” in which I captured the changing light and weather in landscapes that feel timeless but will only endure if people help to care for them. Last year, time caught up with that particular landscape – one of the oak trees was felled in a storm. While I could accept the loss of this tree to natural causes, I still feel a sense of loss driving by.

White Oaks, Winter - oil painting by Eloise Beil
White Oaks, Winter – oil painting by Eloise Beil

Working with trees involves planning ahead – thinking in years, not just media moments. The storyline about White Oak trees will weave through our stream of blogs in the coming years. “Anyone who has ever floated on a boat, or used liquids aged in barrels, or reclined on a fine piece of oak furniture ought to be interested,” George Pauk wrote recently. “These trees are beautiful, magnificent and meaningful. We are growing in our knowledge, if not much in our acts of preservation and restoration, of natural balance. Perhaps the beginning of wider knowledge and restoration of white oak and white pine to forest strength will be a part of a larger movement toward better water and life for mother earth.”

Camp Marbury on Lake Champlain

by Eileen Leary on April 15, 2016

photograph album coverWe’re very proud of our Lake Adventure Camps for kids here at the Lake Champlain Maritime Museum, but did you know that we aren’t the first summer camp to operate near Basin Harbor? Almost a century ago, the Sleeper family opened Camp Marbury, a summer camp for girls. Named for Anne Marbury Hutchinson, the camp’s beautiful and expansive lakeside grounds offered young women the opportunity for both physical activity and creative expression.

The Roost at Camp Marbury, Image Courtesy of Vermont Historical Society
1927 photo 23
Swimming in Lake Champlain, Image Courtesy of Vermont Historical Society

After many years as counselors at Aloha Camps in Fairlee, VT, Mary Peet and Henry Sleeper set out to open their own camp on Lake Champlain. Assisted by Professor Hugh Worthington and his wife, both of Sweet Briar College, the Sleepers opened Camp Marbury near the Basin Harbor Club in 1921. Although it isn’t clear what facilities existed at the camp at that time, we do know that by 1942, Camp Marbury boasted six permanent buildings, a tennis court, a riding ring, and a dock on the lake.

In any given summer, the fifty girls at Camp Marbury might enjoy swimming, canoeing, tennis, archery, baseball, handicrafts, and horse-riding, in addition to their musical and artistic pursuits. Their lengthy days (starting at 7:10 AM and stretching until 9 PM for older girls) did contain opportunities for rest and relaxation, but the vast majority of their time would be spent on and in the water where they might learn to swim and row, in the craft house where they could weave and make jewelry, or learning to play on one of the four pianos owned by the camp. Singing and acting were popular pursuits as well, as were more strenuous physical activities – several photographs from the camp show girls hiking in the mountains around Lake Champlain.

1922 photo 11
Image Courtesy of Vermont Historical Society

Sadly, rationing reduced the Sleepers’ ability to obtain supplies for the camp, and Camp Marbury ceased its operations as a girl’s camp in 1942. One of its buildings, affectionately named the Roost, is still standing today and has been incorporated into the Lake Champlain Maritime Museum campus. We here at LCMM remember it fondly as part of a tradition of exciting Lake Adventure Camps that we have continued today!

To find out more about Camp Marbury, explore the resources at the Vermont Historical Society, or pay us a visit!

Lake Champlain Maritime Museum Receives CVNHP Grant for Nautical Archaeology Archive

A 2016 Conservation and Community Grant from the Champlain Valley National Heritage Partnership heralds an important new initiative for Lake Champlain Maritime Museum, a project titled Collections & Recollections: Preserving Peter Barranco’s Legacy. Grant funds are helping LCMM initiate long-term preservation and research access to a nationally significant collection recently donated to LCMM. “The Maritime Museum is deeply grateful to Peter Barranco for his gift, and to the Champlain Valley National Heritage Partnership for helping LCMM initiate the long-term preservation and access of this important collection,” said Executive Director Mike Smiles.

Peter Barranco assisting Lorenzo F. Hagglund during salvage operations on the wreck of steamboat Vermont in September 1953. The first Lake Champlain steamboat, Vermont was built in Burlington 1808-09, and sank in the Richelieu River in October 1815.   Credit: Lake Champlain Maritime Museum, Barranco Collection
Peter Barranco assisting Lorenzo F. Hagglund during salvage operations on the wreck of steamboat Vermont in September 1953. The first Lake Champlain steamboat, Vermont was built in Burlington 1808-09, and sank in the Richelieu River in October 1815.
Credit: Lake Champlain Maritime Museum, Barranco Collection

In 2014, A. Peter Barranco, nautical archaeologist and historian, transferred his research collection to LCMM. “This is an amazing resource,” commented Eloise Beil, LCMM’s Director of Collections and Exhibits, who is managing the project. “Mr. Barranco’s life work has been to assemble comprehensive information related to Lake Champlain vessels. His collection fills an entire office with materials documenting Lake Champlain’s sailing vessels, naval vessels, steamboats, ferries, and canal boats, and the people who built, owned, and operated them.”

Early in his career, Mr. Barranco worked for Lorenzo F. Hagglund (ca. 1894-1961), who conducted search and salvage operations on many important Lake Champlain shipwrecks including the 1776 Philadelphia (now in the Smithsonian), and Royal Savage (returned to the U. S. Navy in July, 2015), and the lake’s first steamboat, Vermont, which began service in 1809. Many of Hagglund’s records, given to Barranco for his research, were included in the gift to LCMM. Peter Barranco has also been a research affiliate of LCMM since the museum’s founding in 1986, and served as navigation control specialist and historian during LCMM’s Sonar Survey of Lake Champlain Shipwrecks from 1996–2002. For more than half a century, until failing eyesight forced his retirement, Peter Barranco provided research support on underwater archaeological projects conducted in Lake Champlain and responded to queries from the general public.

“We will share highlights of Peter Barranco’s collection and some of his recollections with the public this summer in our Nautical Archaeology Center through exhibition and an oral history video,” explains Eloise Beil, LCMM’s Director of Collections and Exhibits. “This project will also inform the public about the preservation of important documents. Archival management of the Barranco Collection will ensure that the records he gathered will continue to be available to guide long term stewardship and preservation of Lake Champlain’s historic shipwrecks.” Conservation and Community Grant funding will provide archival quality storage for this massive and highly significant collection. The work will take place in LCMM’s Conservation Lab with ongoing public interpretation of the process. The museum is currently seeking a summer intern with an interest in archaeology, archives, or museum studies to help with this work. The accompanying video will also share the importance and methods of caring for collections of historic documents. “It is an honor to carry forward the work of previous generations of Lake Champlain’s nautical archaeologists,” Beil concluded.

In addition to rehousing the Barranco Collection in archival storage materials, a collection scope and content note and inventory will be created to facilitate research access. LCMM staff will work with Vermont State Archaeologist Jess Robinson to develop research access protocols and plan for future digitization for preservation and access to the collection. Andy Kolovos, Archivist and Co-Director of the Vermont Folklife Center, will provide guidelines for the oral history interviews of Peter Barranco, which will be on deposit at LCMM and at the VT Folklife Center archives. The 8-10 minute video created for LCMM’s mini-exhibit on the project will be distributed through RETN and YouTube.

Lake Champlain Maritime Museum’s 4-acre lakeside campus is open daily from May 21 through October 9. Founded in 1986 to preserve and share the maritime heritage of the Champlain Valley, Lake Champlain Maritime Museum shares underwater discoveries and lake history with the public through engaging exhibits, dynamic hands-on learning opportunities, full-scale working replica vessels, and innovative on-water experiences.  As a year-round educational service provider, Lake Champlain Maritime Museum connects with more than 2,500 Elementary and Middle School Students through valuable place-based learning, ecology and nautical archaeology experiences and other programming with museum educators. Find more information at , Facebook, or call 802 475-2022.

Second AmeriCorp Member Joins Lake Champlain Maritime Museum!

tumblr_nmwo55tmaf1qh8viko6_500The new AmeriCorps program at the Lake Champlain Maritime Museum is speeding right along with the addition of a second AmeriCorps volunteer! My name is Eileen Leary, and I’m a 25 year old MA graduate from University College London. I grew up around boats – I’ve been on them since literally before I was born! – have degrees in history and archaeology, and have worked in museum education. I’m also very passionate about public service and giving back to the community, so when I found out about the position at the LCMM, it seemed made for me!
I’m very excited to be here, because there are so many opportunities for me to explore my varied interests. Lake Champlain Maritime Museum not only has a fascinating museum collection, but also full-sized replicas of several historic vessels, a blacksmith’s shop, boat-building facilities, and many educational programs that incorporate several of the above. These fantastic resources allow for hands-on, non-traditional education that can adapt to all learning styles, and can be especially helpful for learners for whom a traditional classroom setting isn’t ideal!

I wasn’t always passionate about museum education and archaeology, and it was only through community programs and educational opportunities that I was able to realize my interest in these topics. Now as an archaeologist, I’m especially looking forward to the Shipwreck Tours, which allow you to explore the many shipwrecks of Lake Champlain via ROV. Remote Operated Vehicles are very useful tools for underwater archaeology, so I’m also excited for our summer camps that allow kids to build or modify their own ROV – learn more about them here!

I look forward to helping young learners find their interests, expand their skills and knowledge, and discover the rich history of Lake Champlain!

Looking Forward to Summer Camp at LCMM!

11145015_10153422820861197_2599326938676101580_oIt’s March; children have settled into school routines and now are knee deep in schoolwork (although in past years they were knee deep in snow!). Warm summer days may still seem like a far off dream. But the truth is, it’s never too early to start looking forward to a carefree summer. For campers, as well as staff, summer camp is a magical experience that can never quite be put into words. Camp is where lifetime memories and lasting friendships are made.

Lake Champlain Maritime Museum’s Lake Adventure Camps give our campers the opportunity to reconnect with nature. With so much entertaining technology at their fingertips, young adults are far less likely to unplug and head outside to form a connection with the environment. LCMM can inspire them to realize that going outside is worth the time. LCMM is located directly on beautiful Lake Champlain, surrounded by mountains in every direction.

10551500_10153428250471197_4089712625388495761_oIn today’s world, social media rules. Too many young people communicate with friends solely through texting and posting to Instagram. A large part of what makes summer camp so enjoyable is reconnecting with past camp friends and making new friends.  At LCMM these connections are made face-to-face. Anyone who has attended a Lake Adventure Camp will tell you, it’s like being part of one big extended family. Within that family, both staffers and campers get to share what they love and hone in on interpersonal skills that bind them together forever.

The most enticing thing about summer camp at LCMM is the freedom to explore. A camper can look forward to shedding the constraints of school and their never-ending homework when camp begins, yet learning doesn’t stop with the school year.  We present our campers with plenty of adventure and exploration-based learning opportunities, all while having fun.

With such a broad range of programs, and the different activities within each, campers can look forward to building on areas they know they are interested in, and also explore new ones. Whether exploring the waterfront by bike, searching the water depths with a snorkeling mask, or paddling and rowing while learning about boat safety, boat building and the history of boats on Lake Champlain, no camper will ever be bored. We also have camps designed around fascinating activities on land, such as blacksmithing and metal work. No matter what you are interested in, LCMM has something fun and exciting for everyone! Each camp provides space for young people to grow as individuals by getting to pursue their own interests.


NOW is the time to go sign up for a LCMM Lake Adventure Camp. Programs are filling and we want your children to have something great to look forward to—please see our website for the details. We look forward to seeing you this summer!  Click here to Register!

AmeriCorps at Lake Champlain Maritime Museum!

March marks a special new beginning for Lake Champlain Maritime Museum! This month is the official start of a new partnership forged between the Museum and the AmeriCorps. My name is Erin Sward, I am a 22-year-old University of Connecticut graduate, and the first AmeriCorps volunteer to join the LCMM team. I couldn’t be more delighted! In the short time I’ve been here it has already become clear that LCMM is far more than just a museum. I am the start of another way the LCMM is expanding their capacity to serve students.

I am an animal science major, so this is an opportunity for me to go out on a limb and try something new. What drew me here was the ecology, and the opportunity to work with kids on environmental education outside of the classroom setting.

My position is to be an integral part of the Museum’s various innovative educational programs. I am looking forward to helping implement the new adventure oriented after school programs at Vergennes Elementary School. I also can’t wait to be in the boat shop this semester providing support to the team boat-building program. I get to help learning impaired students from the Diversified Occupations Program of the Hannaford Career Center build a 32-foot traditional 19th century design wooden longboat. I am ecstatic to be trained as both a coach and a coxswain to support the nine different High School rowing programs that have after-school practice every week and rowing events at LCMM to provide a physical fitness outlet right here on Lake Champlain.

By far I am most excited for the summer months to arrive so I can work as an educator at the numerous summer camps the LCMM has to offer. I’m thrilled to engage in tons of on-water and underwater programs in nautical archaeology and especially lake ecology. There are so many opportunities in the coming months and I hope to make an impact on how Lake Champlain Maritime Museum provides unique learning experiences for youth that they will always remember.