Clang! Bang! Hammers and hearing protection galore!

Students, Volunteers and LCMM staff building a 32’ rowing gig in the LCMM boat shop.

In the LCMM boat shop, lately, we’ve been riveting. An ancient and practical process, it requires at least two people and a lot of team-work to complete each rivet. We tend to work in groups of three, with one person as the communicator since as it’s loud in there!

The two students doing the riveting decide: who will be inside the boat, and who will be on the outside. The person on the inside drills a hole through the rib and the overlapping planks. From the outside, a copper nail is pushed through. The person on the outside holds the nail securely with a tool called a backing iron, making sure the nail stays put. From the inside, using a special tool called a rove set and a hammer, the other student pounds a copped washer- called a rove- onto the protruding nail. The inside person then levers the nail with a pair of tin snips to sink the head, before clipping the extra nail off as close to the rove as they can.

From there, with the person on the outside of the boat still holding the nail in place, the person on the inside taps the little protruding bit of copper gently with a ball-peen hammer, rounding the nub into a dome, and tightening the whole thing down. Think of it as artifically making a second head on the nail.

We use rivets in boatbuilding because few other things can match them for clamping pressure, and, as the students could tell you, we use copper because it is malleable and extremely corrosion-resistant. All in all, there are twenty rivets per rib and with sixty ribs, so we’re looking at 1,200 rivets in the ribs alone. We will also rivet together the gunwales and inwales, so by the time we’re done, the kids will be very well-practiced.

The riveting process is just one example of the care and consideration that is such a hallmark of the wooden boat.

Helena Van Voorst Joins Lake Champlain Maritime Museum as Director of Development

Joyce Cameron, Co-Executive Director of Lake Champlain Maritime Museum (LCMM) has announced that Helena Van Voorst will be joining the Museum staff as Director of Development. “Helena has worked for LCMM in the past, and we are delighted to welcome her back to our Museum team,” Joyce commented. “Our new Maritime Pathways educational initiatives are designed to deliver mission-centered programs all year long and Helena will help us meet our mission to share our maritime heritage and encourage stewardship of the lake’s natural and cultural resources.”

Helena first joined LCMM’s crew as Director of Development in 2006.  After her daughter was born, Helena accepted a part-time position managing grants for the Burlington Partnership for a Healthy Community which allowed her to spend more time at home.  “Leaving LCMM was an incredibly difficult decision.  I felt so connected to the Museum’s community and programs.”  Helena now returns to LCMM with 15 years of experience in fundraising, grants management, and sustainability planning.  “During my time away from LCMM, I had the opportunity to work in the substance abuse prevention field which is very science and data driven.  I look forward to bringing that lens with me to the Museum.”

Helena grew up near Lake Champlain in Ferrisburgh, VT.  She attended college in Iowa and lived there for a short time after graduating.  Helena now lives in Vergennes with her husband, daughter, son, and two rabbits.  She is a certified Results Based Accountability trainer and sits on the Board of Directors at the Champlain Valley Christian School and the Boys and Girls Club of Greater Vergennes.

Bob Beach Sr. Maritime Apprenticeship

The Lake Champlain Maritime Museum has received funding to honor Robert Beach Sr.’s adventurous spirit and love of history. LCMM has created the Bob Beach Sr. Maritime Apprenticeship to provide a unique and exciting opportunity for four enthusiastic young people. High school students interested in developing maritime skills will accompany the crew of the Canal Schooner Lois McClure as she travels from Lake Champlain through the Champlain and Erie Canals, bound for the 2017 World Canals Conference. For approximately ten days, these trainee sailors and interpreters will work alongside the crew of the schooner and hone seamanship skills, become immersed in the lifestyle of a 19th century canal schooner, and build valuable leadership experience, while living aboard as part of the ship’s crew. Students from Addison County high schools entering 10th, 11th, or 12th grade are invited to apply. The apprenticeship will be held between early July and mid August 2017 and will consist of a 10 to 14 day rotation, living and working aboard the canal schooner Lois McClure.

The experience will include:

  • Assigned readings and curriculum on history and ecology to absorb prior to joining the crew.
  • Opportunities to gain hands on experience in boating skills and shipboard life. You will be immersed in the lifestyle of a 19th century working canal schooner!
  • Practice performing historical interpretation and educational programing in public settings.
  • Participation in regular marine safety drills and procedures.
  • Development and observation of leadership skills and styles in a dynamic environment.
  • The chance to travel along the historic Erie Canal on a traditional 19th century craft!
  • A stipend of $250.


To participate in the Apprenticeship, applicants must fill out an application and answer a few questions. Responses should show:

  • Keen interest in regional history and ecology and public interpretation.
  • Desire to develop maritime and other new skills.
  • Genuine commitment to participate in all components of a strenuous, irregular daily schedule.
  • Willingness to live in tight quarters with little privacy.
  • Physical, mental, and emotional ability to positively contribute to the crew.
  • Most importantly a wicked good attitude, a strong work ethic, and a good sense of humor.

Applications must also include a brief recommendation from an adult teacher, counselor or school advisor.

We strongly encourage applicants to apply as soon as they know they are interested and can make a commitment to the program.

  • Complete an application (available on our website).
  • Submit a recommendation from a teacher, guidance counselor or other adult.
  • Submit the completed application to:

Matt Harrison, VYDC AmeriCorps service member at LCMM.

Reviewers will respond to applications within 2-3 weeks. Preference will be given to Addison County applicants.

For Questions and more details contact Matt Harrison,

Career Day at Knowlton Academy Elementary School

On March 10th LCMM Underwater Archaeologist Jennifer Craig  was invited to Career Day at Knowlton Academy Elementary School. Approximately 70 students aged 11-13 attended this event. The Principal Renalee Gore provided the students with 30 different career options by inviting professionals from various walks of life.

The intention was for students to appreciate the education and perseverance that goes into career development. As an underwater archaeologist Jennifer enticed students to remain in the sciences with focus on mathematics, chemistry and physics so that they might be able to one day enjoy the mysteries of human-made objects underwater.

The students asked many questions such as “how do you see underwater?” and were promptly invited to join our Lake Adventure  Camps. Another question was about “how can you tell its a shipwreck and what kind?” that question entailed a much longer response on Jennifer’s 3 degrees and years of experience in the scientific recording of shipwrecks with SCUBA diving.

Join us for Lake Adventure Camps this summer; learn to snorkel, look for fish, and much more!

Boatshop Open House Night

Roz Wilcox, AmeriCorps Service Member, LCMM

Students, alumni, parents, teachers, administrators, volunteers, donors, and LCMM staff filled the LCMM Boatshop on Thursday to celebrate the building of something special.

Seven students currently enrolled in the Diversified Occupation’s boatbuilding program and one student from Mount Abraham’s Pathways program gave demonstrations of various boatbuilding techniques they’ve learned, from refinishing older boats, to planking the new one. There was even a live demo of steam-bending ribs, installed by an all-girl crew!

One of the most striking things about the evening was the sense of community. The students who built last year’s boat were there, remembering their presentation of the year before, as were teachers and volunteers who have seen so many of these boats built over the past seventeen years of the Champlain Longboats program.

The tone of the evening was simultaneously success and gratitude. The success of the program comes from the collaboration and dedication of everyone who was in that room, and more! Without the school partnerships, rowing teams, donors, volunteers, and students, there would be nothing to celebrate. LCMM is proud to have partnered with The Diversified Occupations program for seventeen years building seventeen rowing gigs that are all actively being used by youth and adult rowing programs in the Champlain Valley and beyond.

The newest pilot gig will be launched on May 25th. It’s bound for Massachusetts, but the legacy of honoring the victories of the past and the brightness of the future will live on as another boat is built. Each student group is unique, and each boat is unique, but overall, they are all the shape of success. So here’s to year seventeen, and to all the years to come!

LCMM Represents Vermont At Snow Row

Roz Wilcox, AmeriCorps Service Member, LCMM

With a high of 15 degrees, it was going to be a cold one. But that’s what everybody had come out for. When we first arrived on the scene, it was still blowing a gale. ‘Are we crazy?’ was a question in everyone’s mind, but the forecast told us the wind would die down before the race, and our faith and sweaters saw us through.

 Sure enough, the wind did die down. It was blowing 20-25 knots with gusts up to 35. ‘Choppy’ was a bit of an understatement, but putting our trust in the Hull Lifesaving Museum’s judgement and legacy, we started off as per tradition. The Snow Row features a Le Mans-style start, meaning that the race really begins on land. At the cannon’s boom participants must sprint from the high-tide line on the beach to their boats and launch at speed, before turning around and making a line for Sheep Island. From there, it’s a line to the Peddocks Island day marker, before returning to the Windmill Point boathouse.


We had five teams in the race, including many alumni of the youth programs! One of our fours was crewed by Mt. Abe high school students, and another four was Mt. Abe students and alumni! In addition, we had a pilot gig full of Vergennes Union High School alumni. We had two more gigs, one a mix of Vermont adult rowers, and youth from Station, Maine, and one a team of museum staff and volunteers.

It was a rough day out there, but under the skill of our coxswains and strong backs of our rowers, all five LCMM teams returned safe to the Windmill Point boathouse for hot soup and celebration!

Check out more photos by!

Lake Champlain Maritime Museum Announces 2017 Legacy Tour of Schooner Lois McClure

Replica 1862 Canal Schooner Lois McClure on the Champlain Canal

The World Canals Conference, which meets in Syracuse NY in September to celebrate canals as “agents of transformation,” inspired both the theme and destination for the 2017 “Legacy Tour” of Lake Champlain Maritime Museum (LCMM)’s replica 1862 canal schooner Lois McClure.  The tour pays tribute to the legacy of the canals, which celebrate 200 years in 2017, and the legacy of the Northern Forest trees, which built the thousands of wooden boats that plied our waterways.  Planning for this ambitious tour, which reaches 38 ports between July 1 and October 15, is being made possible through a grant from the Champlain Valley National Heritage Partnership (CVNHP) through the National Park Service and the Lake Champlain Basin Program (LCBP)/New England Interstate Water Pollution Control Commission (NEIWPCC).

Crowd at Medina, NY greets canal schooner Lois McClure. Courtesy, Fotoworks, Andy Olenick.

“The Lois McClure has a unique capability to bring 200 years of canal history to life,
while engaging people to appreciate and protect our legacy waterways,” says New York State Canal Corporation Director Brian U. Stratton.  “It can also help inform how the canal system can best serve the evolving needs of present and future generations.”  Planning for the Legacy Tour, LCMM has built partnerships with communities and sponsors throughout the canal region, including the Erie Canalway National Heritage Corridor, World Canals Conference, Lake Champlain Transportation, the McClure Family, Cabot Creamery Cooperative and Vermont Family Forests. AmeriCorps Members have helped LCMM staff develop educational and interpretive materials for the project.

Construction of the famed Erie and Champlain Canals began on July 4, 1817 in Rome, NY.  The monumental task took nearly a decade to complete, and when finished the commercial success of the canals exceeded all expectations.  During the tour, project co-director and LCMM historian Art Cohn will be “Searching for History.”  With support from communities along the canal, Cohn will comb area archives to uncover documents that reflect the amazing story of this massive civil engineering project that shaped the new nation.

Replica 1862 Canal Schooner Lois McClure on the Champlain Canal

During the Legacy Tour the schooner crew will share with community members and students a maritime perspective on the relationship between waterways and trees, canal boats and forests through an initiative called Stem to Stern. “The forests and the waterways are a key to understanding how America transformed into a powerful and prosperous nation,” says Erick Tichonuk, LCMM Co-Executive Director. “Using human and animal power, the canal builders cleared a pathway 60 feet wide and more than 400 miles long, much of it through forested lands, to create the water highway that brought an economic boom. Almost overnight, natural resources too bulky to ship overland became valuable commodities.”

Load of lumber on canal boat Frank A. Jagger, at Albany, NY. Courtesy, Canal Society of New York.

“When LCMM built the schooner Lois McClure we used more than 20,000 board feet of sustainably harvested white oak and pine from the Champlain Valley and New York’s Catskill Mountains,” Tichonuk recalls. “During the canal era, thousands of wooden canal boats were built, and then used to move still more lumber to further markets.” The canals opened a floodgate of trade between the Champlain Valley, ports along the Hudson River and the Atlantic Seaboard, and through western New York to the Great Lakes.

However, the transformation also brought some unintended consequences. Stem to Stern is designed to spark insight into the impact of deforestation: eroded soil, silted waterways, loss of habitat for fish and wildlife, and the arrival of invasive species. Marking the transition to an era of sustainable forestry and environmental stewardship, the schooner will transport a cargo of white oak and white pine seedlings provided by New York State Department of Environmental Conservation’s Trees for Tributaries Program, to be planted in communities along the canal.

Further information and the itinerary of the 2017 Legacy Tour can be found at Travel conditions for this traditional wooden vessel are weather dependent, so the schedule is subject to change. Specific locations and hours of public boarding will be announced.

Welcome Matt Harrison!

My name is Matt Harrison, and I am one of three new AmeriCorps member serving at the Lake Champlain Maritime Museum this year. I’ve been on the move since my graduation from Carleton College, developing new skills and learning a lot about the world. I studied history in school, but have since been in and out of the environmental education field and the National Park Service. I enjoy the intersections of science and the humanities, finding many of them in outdoor education.

I have worked with a variety of educational programs over the last few year, learning practical teaching skills and finding that I enjoy working with kids. My teaching has taken me from urban spaces in Boston to classes on Wyoming mountaintops and oceanographic fieldwork at sea. Gathering, creating, and sharing knowledge seems to be what I’m about.

I made my first tall ship voyage in 2012 and it catapulted me into the maritime world.  Having grown up surrounded by small lake boats in Minnesota, I was enchanted by life aboard a large oceangoing vessel. Since then I have sought opportunities to sail and mess around on the water. I love my time on the oceans, but the country’s great inland waters are particularly dear to my heart.

I was delighted to find so many of my interests encompassed in the mission of the Lake Champlain Maritime Museum. I was even more excited when I found out I would be coming to Vermont to participate! So far, I’ve been helping support education programs at the museum and helping to develop exciting new exhibits and curriculum. As the seasons change, I hope to get back outside with students and foster appreciation for beautiful Vermont and its history. In my first few months, I’ve already extended my experience in new and unexpected ways and am grateful to be here.

Call me Roz. Rainbow Trout Roz.

I’ve pulled many trout out of many bodies of water, but never Lake Champlain. But in my experience, fishes are alike all over and all you need is a little know-how and a dichotomous key.

I’m a detective, so I’m not green when it comes to slimeballs. But I’m a fish detective, so I know some scaleballs, too. This year it is my distinct honor to be a part of the Lake Champlain Maritime Museum’s One and Only Fish Camp!

It’s going to be a heck of a week! Together, we will explore every trick in the book for fish-catching, from seine nets to rods and reels. We’ll get inside the heads of fish, think how they think, swim how they swim, and peek into their homes with state-of-the-art camera equipment. We’ll learn what exactly makes a fish- from the adipose fin to the lateral line.

Yes, my friend, there is a lot to do out here on the lake, and there’s always more to learn about the lake’s slippery inhabitants. I hope to teach and learn with you at The One and Only Fish Camp!

Rainbow Trout Roz is proud to be a fish camp counselor from June 26th-June 30th

Tugboat U. S. La Vallee Shipwreck to Become Underwater Historic Preserve

Tugboat U. S. La Vallee

A new Underwater Historic Preserve in Lake Champlain will open for divers this summer, thanks to a 2017 Corridor of Commerce Grant from the Champlain Valley National Heritage Partnership. “We are excited that the 1880 tugboat U. S. La Vallee will become a new preserve,” says Chris Sabick, Archaeological Director at Lake Champlain Maritime Museum (LCMM) and Maritime Research Institute (MRI).  “We will use the grant funds to establish the infrastructure that makes it possible for divers to safely visit the wreck site. Providing public interpretation of the wreck is also an important part of the project.” The U. S. La Vallee is an example of the small, steam-powered commercial tugs that operated along the east coast and inland waterways of the United States in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries.

“This well-preserved tugboat shipwreck was thoroughly examined and documented during the summer of 2015 and is ready for addition to the Vermont’s Underwater Historic Preserve System once the infrastructure is in place,” says Scott Dillon, Survey Archaeologist with the Vermont Division for Historic Preservation. Dillon directs the management of Vermont’s Underwater Historic Preserve System. “Our goal is to protect the wreck while safely providing access to this historic resource for the community.”  The U. S. La Vallee mooring infrastructure will become the property of the State of Vermont once the new preserve is established.

Wreck of the Tugboat U. S. La Vallee

“The importance of this wreck cannot be overemphasized,” explains Art Cohn, LCMM Director Emeritus. “Lake Champlain’s hardworking commercial vessels rarely received public notice while performing their important but unglamorous duties. U.S. La Vallee is also one of very few steamboat wrecks in Lake Champlain that still have an engine and other machinery on board.” The tug’s overall excellent condition presents a unique opportunity for archaeologists to study small late-nineteenth-century steamboat construction, design and technology. This makes the vessel an exciting addition to the lake’s collection of Underwater Historic Preserves.

Wreck of the Tugboat U. S. La Vallee

The wreck of U. S. La Vallee was located in deep water in Shelburne Bay in July, 1996, during Lake Champlain Maritime Museum’s Sonar Survey of the lake. The vessel was sitting intact and upright on the bottom in excellent condition, except for the wheelhouse, whose curved windows appear to have been blown outward. Trapped air may have torn apart the vessel’s wheelhouse in a violent explosion during the vessel’s sinking.

Research, primarily conducted by historian A. Peter Barranco, Jr., revealed that the small wooden tugboat called Henry Lloyd, later renamed U.S. La Vallee, was launched in 1880 at Brooklyn, New York. In that era, hundreds of coal-fired screw steamers served as towing and service craft for coastal and inland shipping. After just three years of service in Brooklyn and in Perth Amboy, New Jersey, the tug was sold to a firm in Georgetown, South Carolina, where she remained for 37 years. During this time, the vessel was rebuilt and enlarged from 40.5 ft. to 56.1 ft. in length. In 1920, her license was surrendered at New York City as “dismantled, unfit for use.”

Wreck of the Tugboat U. S. La Vallee

This was not the final chapter for Henry Lloyd, however: in 1923 the tug was listed in Albany, NY as “abandoned; district, hail and property changed, re-documented,” when she was acquired by John E. Matton, who operated a shipyard and fleet of tugboats based on the Hudson River at Cohoes, New York. An earlier Matton shipyard in Waterford had primarily built canal boats; the new Matton yard served the NY Barge Canal system. Most of the tugs used on the New York canals were old vessels from the New York Harbor area that were cut down for canal use. Henry Lloyd’s original tall stack may have been cut down at this time. Matton also renamed the tug: Henry Lloyd became U.S. La Vallee, and remained in Matton’s service for six years.

In 1929, Burlington, VT contractor James E. Cashman purchased U.S. La Vallee from Matton.  This time the tug truly was worn out, and much effort was spent to keep the vessel afloat. A 1929 photograph of Shelburne Shipyard shows the tug on the marine railway. Captain Merritt Carpenter recalled that about that time, the men who operated her began to use the nickname “Useless Valley.” Finally, in 1931, Cashman abandoned efforts to stop the tug’s leaks, and had the tug towed out into deep water in Shelburne Bay and scuttled. U.S. La Vallee would not be seen again for sixty-five years.

“We are delighted that more people will now be able to explore the U. S. La Vallee and appreciate her story,” says Sabick. “If you don’t want to wait until summer, there’s a page on the Museum’s web site – it even includes a documentary video created by students at Vergennes Middle School, as part of their FUSION after-school program, in partnership with LCMM.”

Wreck of the Tugboat U. S. La Vallee

The Lake Champlain Underwater Historic Preserve System was established to provide public access for divers to some of the Lake’s historic shipwrecks. Access to the sites in the Lake Champlain Underwater Historic Preserve is free of charge, but divers must register annually prior to using the Preserve System. The system is designed to protect these irreplaceable historic resources both from anchor damage and artifact collecting. With the cooperation of the recreational diving community these wrecks will be available for generations of divers to enjoy.


Dive Lake Champlain: Underwater Historic Preserves
Tugboat U.S. La Vallee Underwater Historic Preserve Page
Vermont Division for Historic Preservation
Champlain Valley National Heritage Partnership

For more information please contact:

Christopher Sabick, Archaeological Director, Lake Champlain Maritime Museum, (802) 475-2022 ext. 110,

Scott Dillon, Survey Archaeologist, Vermont Division for Historic Preservation: (802) 272-7358