Lake Champlain Maritime Museum Opens For Season May 23

Lake Champlain Maritime Museum (LCMM) opens for the season on Saturday May 23, 2015 offering Addison County residents, students with college ID, and veterans, as well as active and reserve military personnel free admission over the entire Memorial Day Weekend.  “Memorial Day, which was created to honor people who gave their lives while serving in the nation’s armed forces, has special meaning for the Maritime Museum,” says Executive Director Mike Smiles. “Lives were lost to create and defend our country in these local waters during the American Revolution and the War of 1812.” LCMM’s exhibit Key to Liberty and replica 1776 gunboat allow visitors to step back in time to the nation’s founding. Detailed ship models of War of 1812 vessels are featured in LCMM’s new exhibit History in Miniature: The Models and Dioramas of Bill Kissam. For more than 25 years, Kissam, a resident of Westport, NY, has created detailed and accurate scale models and dioramas for museums in the region, including ships from the War of 1812, Lake Champlain steamboats, iron mines, and historic gardens. The exhibit brings together models made for LCMM and private collections. A checklist accompanying the exhibit will guide the visitor to other regional museums where Kissam’s work can be seen.

LCMM encourages visitors of all ages to go deeper, and challenge themselves to make new connections with the lake, the surrounding community, and the world around us. The Museum’s main campus at Basin Harbor outside Vergennes, Vermont, with 14 exhibit buildings and replica 1776 gunboat Philadelphia II, provides an incredible opportunity to explore the maritime heritage that transformed this nation over the centuries. Exhibits, Archaeology Lab, Boat Shop, and metalworking facilities support hands-on learning and specialized adventures such as the five-week teen kayak building and camping experience of Champlain Discovery, using foundries and forges inHeavy Metal Mania, or getting back to basics with Survivor Then & Now.

Daily visitors can choose to add a 60 to 90 minute mini-workshop or on-water experience to their Museum admission with a new pilot program of 60 Minute Experiences.” “If you like to roll up your sleeves and try something new, we have a menu of bite-sized adventures,” says Site Manager Kris Jarrett. “We can get you out on the water or into a workshop where you create something to take home.” During Memorial Day Weekend, 60 Minute Experiences include Copper Fold Forming(Saturday at 2pm); Longboat Rowing (Sunday 2-3:30pm); and Ropework (Monday at 2pm); additional fee applies. The discount package of Museum admission, lunch at the Red Mill, and history cruise return this season as well. Find more information and program registration online or call 802 475-2022.


Lake Adventure Camps:

LCMM also launches an exciting new series of adventure education programs this summer on the Burlington waterfront in partnership with Burlington Parks, Recreation & Waterfront, and at the LCMM campus in Vergennes. These week-long day camps in June, July and August are designed to inspire a new generation of adventure historians, scientists, collectors, and stewards of Lake Champlain. The Burlington Waterfront will be an extraordinary adventure camp site for LCMM. “We’ll use canoes, longboats, and power vessels to access lakeshore environments and an amazing array of shipwrecks,” explains Program Director Erick Tichonuk. “We’ll teach snorkeling techniques with the Waterfront Diving Center so students ages 4-16 can experience in-water connections with the lake’s creatures and shipwrecks. We go underwater to view shipwrecks and aquatic life without getting wet using our Remote Operated Vehicle (ROV) – we’re the only camp on Lake Champlain with a robot on staff!” A new shuttle service will provide pick-up and drop-off in Burlington and Shelburne for some of the Vergennes-based camps, and each of the Burlington camps includes one day-trip to the Vergennes campus. Registration now open online.


Looking Ahead:

LCMM’s featured exhibits for 2015 offer varied perspectives on the region’s maritime heritage.

  • Great Shipwrecks of New York’s Great Lakes, a traveling exhibit designed by LCMM on view May 28 through Sept. 7 presents several of Lake Champlain’s historic shipwrecks together with shipwrecks in other waterways throughout NY State.
  • Parley & Protocol: Abenaki Diplomacy Past & Present on view from June 28 through Oct. 11 is a loan exhibit by members of the Vermont Abenaki Artists Association.

Special events fill LCMM’s calendar throughout the summer:

  • May 21: Champlain Longboats Launch Day
  • May 30: LCMM Golf Challenge and Spring Wave Youth Rowing Competition
  • June 13-14: Kids Pirate Festival
  • June 27-28: Abenaki Heritage Weekend
  • July 3: The Big ShaBang – Food, Fun & Fireworks!
  • August 15-16: Rabble in Arms Reenactment Weekend
  • Rowing and racing events for youth and adults include weekly rowing with the Community Rowing Club and Rowing For Racing, and travel to regional rowing competitions.
  • View the Complete Calendar of Events


New Waterfront Exhibit: Maritime Burlington!

Starting June 20, LCMM presents a new interpretive exhibit, Maritime Burlington! In a festive setting at Perkins Pier on the Burlington waterfront, the exhibit will serve as a porthole to history for visitors and area residents, and a discovery resource for LCMM’s new Lake Adventure Camps. The exhibitMaritime Burlington presents highlights from LCMM’s nautical archaeology fieldwork and historical research that encourage exploration and discovery “right where history happened,” and will also include stories of former slaves for whom the historic waterway served as a corridor to freedom. Several boats from LCMM’s fleet will add color to the waterfront at Perkins Pier: wooden tugboat C. L. Churchill; MV Baldwin, which will host Saturday Shipwreck tours in July and August; and “Champlain Longboats,” the student-built rowing boats used for community rowing, regional racing events, and On Water Ecology tours. LCMM’s schooner Lois McClure will be present as a backdrop but not available for boarding as she is being prepared for restoration work. The schooner departs in late August for the NYS Canal Corporation shipyard where a team of shipwrights will prepare her for the 2016 season.



LCMM is grateful to the Basin Harbor Club and Lake Champlain Transportation for their generous support. ROV acquisition was made possible by the Bristow Foundation, Barney Bristow, the Lake Champlain Basin Program (LCBP), Oakland Foundation, Greensea Systems, Inc., and International Paper. The 2015 Lake Adventure Camps and restoration of schooner Lois McClure are made possible thanks to the generous support of sponsors including the McClure Family and the Lake Champlain Basin Program. This project was funded in part by an agreement awarded by the Great Lakes Fishery Commission to the New England Interstate Water Pollution Control Commission (NEIWPCC) in partnership with the Lake Champlain Basin Program. NEIWPCC manages LCBP’s personnel, contract, grant and budget tasks and provides input on the program’s activities through a partnership with the LCBP steering committee.

Educator Jim Doolan to be Honored at Maritime Museum Boat Launch

On Thursday May 21, 2015, Lake Champlain Maritime Museum will launch its newest Champlain Longboat, “Jimmy D.” The 32’ pilot gig is named after Jim Doolan who 40 years ago founded the Diversified Occupations Program (D. O.), a public special education program based at the Hannaford Career Center in Middlebury, Vermont. “Doolan has been involved in the building of fourteen boats at LCMM by students from the D.O. program,” recalls LCMM Outdoor Education Director Nick Patch. “With his warmth and visionary approach to special education, Jim has positively impacted the lives of so many area youth that we unanimously determined he deserved to have this boat named in his honor.” The public is welcome to attend the festive boat launch event at no charge. Starting at 11am the program includes student presentations, a parade to the waterfront, the launch of the boat, and light refreshments.

Students and educators from the Diversified Occupations Program have worked four days a week since January with LCMM staff and volunteers to construct the new boat, starting from a pile of lumber. Along the way, they also have gone into the woods with the David Brynn, Director of theVermont Family Forests to select trees and helped mill and stack the lumber for next year’s boat. Over the years, area high school students working with LCMM staff and volunteers have built 19 traditional wooden rowing boats. LCMM maintains an active fleet of 13 four- and six-oar rowing gigs used annually by over 400 youth in after school rowing programs and regional racing events. The boats, a traditional English design originally used during the 1800s to row the pilot or navigator to sailing ships as they approached coastal waters, are also used for adult community rowing and environmental education programs.

Who Is Jim Doolan?

Jim’s love of wooden boats began when he was a child and spent summer with his grandfather who was a master boatbuilder in Lunenburg, Nova Scotia.  Jim usually has more than one wooden boat that he is in the process of restoring.  With experience as a principal of two special education schools, in 1971, Doolan created Diversified Occupations, a regional special education program serving high school students from Otter Valley, Middlebury, Vergennes, and Mount Abraham.  D.O. classes are held at the Hannaford Career Center in Middlebury. Those who participate in Champlain Longboats spend a semester in the boatshop at Lake Champlain Maritime Museum.  Jim retired in 1999 and began his second career with the Champlain Longboats Program. “I love the staff and the students of D.O., the progress students make, and seeing the success of D.O. graduates in the community,” says Jim.   The community may be honoring Jim at the celebration on Thursday, but to Jim, it’s all about the students.