New Exhibit on the Burlington Waterfront

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Contact: Eloise Beil, Director of Collections and Exhibits
802-475-2022, x107; eloiseb@lcmm.org

Burlington, VT – Starting June 20, the Burlington Waterfront will feature a special attraction: Lake Champlain Maritime Museum’s new interpretive exhibit, Maritime Burlington! In a festive “big top tent” setting on Perkins Pier at the foot of Maple Street, the exhibit serves as a porthole to history for visitors and area residents, and a discovery resource for LCMM’s new Lake Adventure Camps.

The exhibit Maritime Burlington presents highlights from LCMM’s nautical archaeology fieldwork and historical research encourages exploration and discovery. “We are very excited to be greeting the public right where so much history happened,” says Executive Director Mike Smiles. “The lake’s first steamboat, Vermont – and the second commercially successful steamboat in the world – was launched right here on the Burlington waterfront in 1808.” Changing views of the Burlington waterfront invite us to travel through time, seeing the breakwater, lighthouses, steamboats, canal boats, railroads and the cargoes that shipped in and out of the Champlain Valley, all helping to shape the city. The exhibit also includes stories of former slaves for whom the historic waterway served as a corridor to freedom. Visitors can use a working replica of a nineteenth century crane to lift cargo into a small-scale canal boat. On weekends, there will be live demonstrations of maritime skills such as shaping spars, ropework and rigging.

Several boats from LCMM’s fleet will also add color to the waterfront at Perkins Pier: 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. Schooner Lois McClure and her companion wooden tugboat C. L. Churchill will also be in port, although the schooner is not available for boarding in 2015 while preparing for restoration work this fall.

The exhibit is open daily from June 20 through August 23, and then Wednesday through Sunday through October 12, 2015. “Our first Lake Adventure Camps in Burlington start June 22, so you will see lots of young adventurers exploring the area with us,” says Deputy Director Erick Tichonuk. “Week-long camps on the waterfront and in Vergennes run through August 14 and there are still a few places open.” A formal ribbon cutting at the exhibit will be announced shortly.

 

 

Background:

Lois McClure was built by LCMM shipwrights and volunteers on the Burlington waterfront in 2001-2004, based on two shipwrecks of 1862-class canal schooners discovered in Lake Champlain. This authentic replica has no means of propulsion other than sail, so 1964 tugboat C. L. Churchillprovides power. Launched in 2004, Lois McClure has completed eleven journeys. Over 5,200 miles on the region’s inland waterways have carried the schooner south to New York City, west to Buffalo and Lake Ontario, and north to Quebec City, engaging people in history and archaeology at every port. More than 220,000 visitors in 220 communities have stepped on board. This replica vessel has been the most effective outreach program LCMM has ever conducted, and a leader in the world of Maritime Museums.

The Maritime Burlington exhibit, 2015 Lake Adventure Camps and restoration of schooner Lois McClure are made possible thanks to the generous support of sponsors including Burlington Parks, Recreation, and Waterfront, Lake Champlain Transportation, Seventh Generation, Merchants Bank, Dan Landau, 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 Water Pollution Control Commission in partnership with the Lake Champlain Basin Program. NEI WPCC 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.

 

Lake Champlain Maritime Museum is located on the shore of Lake Champlain, seven scenic miles from historic Vergennes, Vermont at 4472 Basin Harbor Road, across from the Basin Harbor Club. A museum that makes a difference, LCMM brings underwater discoveries and lake adventures to the public in exciting and imaginative ways. New, hands-on “60 Minute Experiences” are offered daily. The Museum is open daily from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. through October 11, 2015. LCMM Members and children 5 and under receive free admission. For more information call (802) 475-2022 or visitwww.lcmm.org.

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 atwww.lcmm.org 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.

Return to Schuylerville

by Tom Larsen

Docked in Schuylerville
Docked in Schuylerville (photo: Tom Larsen)

This is our 6th year through the Champlain Canal. It is a part of the Lois‘s history now, and we have created some fantastic connections along its length. Schuylerville is just one example of this.

Each year we pass through the canal, we see changes to ports we have stopped at in the past. A pavilion put up here, new gardens there, fresh paint everywhere. Schuylerville is one of the places that we have been able to see develop in a major way through the years.

Dinner at Schuylerville
Dinner at Schuylerville (photo: Tom Larsen)

The first time we stopped in Schuylerville was in 2007. Docked at the wall of C5, the island across the canal was still very wild. When we were back again, two years later in company with the Day Peckingpaugh, the Hudson Crossing Park of today had started to emerge. There was a dock across from the lock, built strong enough for the Lois to berth at, and there were paths cleared through the vegetation of the island from one end to the other. There was a small pavilion put up, and the start of flower gardens along some of the paths. When we came back through in 2010, the paths were graveled, the flowers were thriving, and there was the addition of a slide for kids! Returning in 2011, there was a massive sculpture of a dragonfly waiting for us. Each year we visit, something new has happened. This year, we arrived and were treated to running water on the island!

Music by Olivia
Music by Olivia (photo: Tom Larsen)

One of the treats of the Hudson Crossing Park is the people involved with it. Each year the Lois visits, they put on a dinner for us, and we all get to share stories and great food. This year was no different. Music was provided by a young guitarist, Olivia, and the crew stayed up past our bedtime swapping stories.

Seeing a port change so much over the years is a unique experience, and it generates excitement for a return visit. The board of the Hudson Crossing Park has done some amazing work, and we always enjoy being able to visit Schuylerville.

Special Thanks to:

Tom Larsen
First Mate

Cora Archambault: 1904-2012

A wonderful Friend has passed

Cora in 2005 (photo: John Butler)

While we were traveling north through the Richelieu River valley, word arrived that Cora, a very special friend to all who have an interest in canal life, had passed. Cora was in her 108th year when her time came, and the news was received with a mixture of sadness and relief.

Jane Vincent with Cora at Fiddler’s Elbow

I met Cora some years ago when she was a spry woman in her mid-90’s. I heard that she had been raised on a wooden canal boat and was willing, even eager, to talk about her own and her family’s experiences. When LCMM researcher Jane Vincent returned from a visit to Cora with an audio tape filled with sharp, thoughtful recollections  and insights that only someone who lived the life would have, I knew that I needed to meet Cora.

Cora lived on Fiddler’s Elbow, a familiar and important landmark just north of Whitehall Village. The Elbow was the hard turn to the west that mariners made for generations to get into the old channel that completed the journey to Whitehall. That sharp turn, sometimes only accomplished by running a line ashore, was only improved when the “new” canal was completed in 1918. In years past, I had worked and dived in the area of the Elbow, Old Channel, and the Poultney River, looking for and documenting abandoned shipwrecks from the War of 1812 and the commercial era. Visiting Cora for the first time involved a land approach that culminated literally at the very last house on Fiddler’s Elbow. Cora lived in a small house her father had built for her on the site of the old Henry Neddo shipyard, a facility that built and repaired many canal boats.

While the location was historically interesting, it was Cora’s incredible recollections that made the visits to see her so very special. Cora told me that she was motivated to speak of the canal days to preserve memories of her family, particularly of her mother, Isobel. Cora was able to answer my questions with many details that had escaped the written, artistic, or photographic record. What was it like in the family cabin? Where did you and your sisters and brothers sleep and play? What kind of pets did you have?  What cargos did your father haul? What was it like during the war (World War I) years? Cora told stories of everyday travel, as well as a series of dramas like the time her younger sister Viola fell into the water at Sorel. Cora’s mother heard the other children scream and, despite the fact that she couldn’t swim, Isobel jumped into the water to save her. The screams woke up her father Francois (Frank) who, “quick as a cat,” dove into the water and saved them both. To Cora, for this and other acts of courage, her father was always an unsung hero. I went to visit Cora often, recording her stories and recollections. A more generous spirit I have never met.

I remember being intrigued by Cora’s explanation of filling up the canal boat’s drinking water barrels on Lake Champlain: “When we got to Lake Champlain, way out the water was beautiful and clear, and they would send back word ‘Don’t anybody empty your slop buckets or throw anything in the water because we’re going to fill the water barrels.’ They filled the fixed barrels with buckets over the side.” I asked Cora what a slop bucket was and she laughed and told me it was another word for chamber pot, the traditional way of providing the people on board with bathroom access. Cora then asked me if I wanted to see the family slop bucket, which she still had in her garage, and, of course, I did. I so admired the small porcelain bucket and the role it played in everyday life aboard the canal boat that Cora asked if I might want it for the museum. Today, the slop bucket and the family’s cabin oil lamp, also a gift from Cora, are on display at the museum for all to see.

Art Cohn interviewing Cora in 2005 (photo: John Butler)

Even after I had interviewed Cora many times and felt I had captured the wealth of her stories, I could not end the visits. I still went back to see her, knowing I was in the presence of a very special person. She had become, not only a teacher about the canal age, but a close friend. Cora was so unassuming and always made me feel special. If I tried to explain why I loved to visit her she would dismiss the praise and quickly change the subject. I often brought my son Nathan or a friend to meet her. In 2004, Jane Vincent and I were honored to be invited to attend Cora’s 100th birthday party, a family celebration that showed how much they loved her. When the Lois McClure paid its inaugural visit to Whitehall, we arranged to have Cora come on board, which was made even more special by providing an opportunity for Lois McClure (herself) and Cora to meet. In subsequent years, every time we would pass Cora’s house on Fiddler’s Elbow, I would call ahead to let her know that I would sound the tugboat’s horn when we went by. The crew, who knew Cora’s story, would all wave. I remember when we were going out the Erie Canal for the first time, she told me to be careful on Oneida Lake because it could get very rough. She also recounted the fun she had with her siblings at the amusement park at Sylvan Beach.

I think it was two years ago when we were going to pass by Fiddler’s Elbow on our way to the Erie that I couldn’t raise Cora on the phone. I called her great-niece and neighbor, April, and learned that  for Cora, living alone on the Elbow, even with April’s help, had become just too difficult. She was now at an assisted living facility in Granville, NY. I visited Cora there several times and found her well taken care of by the staff who seemed to recognize they had a very special person in their midst.

Cora’s recollections begin in the days when horses and mules still pulled wooden boats along a towpath, and she witnessed the transition to the enlarged New York State Barge Canal that replaced horses with tugboats.

Cora as a teenager, 1918

For me, beyond the many priceless recollections of days gone-by that enrich our understanding of the canal and allow us to share her family’s story with the public, I remember a sweet, unassuming, wonderful person, always more concerned for others than for herself. I will think of her often, especially whenever I am lucky enough to be traveling with Lois on the canal and especially when we pass by the Fiddler’s Elbow. Rest in peace Cora, all who knew you, loved you.

Art Cohn
Captain, C.L.Churchill

Get Lost, Asian Clams!

By Sarah L. Tichonuk

Last week, divers from the Lake Champlain Maritime Museum again made the trek to beautiful Lake George to assist the FUND for Lake George in their Asian Clam eradication project with funding from the Lake Champlain Basin Program. Our job this time is to recover the rebar and sandbags and mats that have been smothering the little clams for the past couple months.

It’s dirty work.

Asian Clam Mat Retreival
LCMM divers (foreground) pull rebar and mats for loading onto the work boat. Photo by LCMM.

First, we divers clear an area of rebar, which has been holding down the large PVC mats to the bottom, and hand these pieces up to a flat-surfaced work boat. Then we get under a corner of the mat and pull it up, working to break the suction to the sandy/silty bottom. We hand this corner up to the boat where the surface folks proceed to pull the 50-foot-long mat onto the platform. And since it’s been sitting on the bottom of the lake for awhile, it’s a bit dirty. Okay, it’s dripping muddy mucky filthy. You really have to bear-hug the mat out of the water because your fingers slip on the slime.  Hope you weren’t planning to wear that shirt out tonight…

Moving rebar onto the work boat. Photo by FUND for Lake George.

All of this material gets dropped off on shore and sorted into piles. The rebar gets moved to the FUND’s off-site facility. The mats are dragged out, fully extended, and folded neatly and placed in a trailer.  We attempt to take turns, though the surface folks have the worst job.

Okay, let’s look at the numbers. Each mat is a 20mm-thick sheet of PVC (like a pool liner) 50 feet long and 7 feet wide, weighing around 45 pounds. Each mat is held down by 30 5-foot pieces of No. 4 or No. 5 rebar, and sometimes a few sandbags. Each piece of rebar weighs approximately 5 pounds. Each sandbag is around 40 pounds. So to recover each mat, we lift 275 pounds of material at least three times. When we arrived, there were 725 mats at the bottom of Lake George. Good grief.

Pulling a mat out of the water
Pulling a mat out of the water onto the barge. Photo by FUND for Lake George.

And there’s more bad news. This summer, three other infestations of Asian clams were discovered: in Treasure Cove, Boon Bay, and Norowal Marina in Bolton Landing, as far as 9 miles away from the original colony. As more information is gathered – including surveying the lake for additional infestations – planning is underway for treatment options.

We’ll be returning next week to continue this important work.


Want to volunteer? Contact the FUND for Lake George: 518-668-9700, info@fundforlakegeorge.org.

Among the many organizations supporting the FUND for Lake George, we met folks from the Lake Champlain Basin Program, the Darrin Freshwater Institute, Adirondack Park Invasive Plant Program, and Bateaux Below.

Vermont Needs Your Help After Irene

By Adam Kane, Archaeological Director

Damage in Vermont - top Northfield Falls Covered Bridge; bottom Damage in Bethel
Damage in Vermont from Irene - (top) Northfield Falls Covered Bridge; (bottom) Damage in Bethel. These photos and others are on "Vermont Flooding 2011" Facebook page.

Want a chance to do the most rewarding work of your life?  Don’t hesitate; the time is now in Vermont.

I spent Thursday helping folks in Richmond, Vermont muck-out, throw-out, and clean-up from flood damage.  It was some of the dirtiest, hardest, most humbling and gratifying work I’ve ever done. 

The house I worked at, a quintessential 1840s brick Federal (that’s the historian in me – can’t turn that off), was flooded to about 2 feet in the first floor.  They pumped 30,000 gallons of water out of the basement.  On scene were the owner, her daughters and sister, two family friends, two staff from Waitsfield/Champlain Valley Telecom and two folks who just showed up.  Being among the latter, I was welcomed with opened arms.  The first floor was a mass of ruined furniture, paperwork, appliances and family heirlooms.   The drill was not complicated: take it all out with the owner giving instructions to keep or toss.  With everything out, we gutted – trying to get every sodden piece of the house out before the mold takes over.  Today, my muscles ache, but no complaints here – I went home my cozy house, while that family is still working hard to put the pieces of their lives back together. 

This is where you come in.  Go help.  Figure out where you are needed, if it’s safe to go, and go help.  If you can’t shovel muck, donate to one of the many agencies helping with the recovery.

Find out where you are wanted by:

  1. Go to http://802rescue.blogspot.com/  There is a spreadsheet that has an updated list of the towns that are ready for volunteers and specific links to town recovery websites.
  2. Also check here for opportunities: http://vtresponse.wordpress.com/
  3. Go to the Town Clerk website where you are interested in volunteering – many towns are coordinating volunteer efforts through the town clerk.
  4. Many towns have specific recovery websites or facebook pages.  Google them to figure out where you’re needed.

Hopefully, I’ll see you out there this weekend.

Adam Kane
Archaeological Director

Burping Benthic Barriers

By Sarah L. Tichonuk

“Dare I ask what is a benthic barrier, and why does it need burping?” I questioned LCMM archaeological director Adam Kane when he inquired about my schedule last week. Turns out that the bivalve mollusk known commonly as an Asian clam (Corbicula fluminea) was found in Lake George last year, and they want it out. This non-native clam is highly invasive, and is capable of self-fertilization (it’s hermaphroditic, if you want to nose into its sex life) and can generate up to 400 offspring per day. That’s a lot of hermaphrodites if you ask me.

LCMM Archaeologist Sarah Tichonuk dives in Lake George.
LCMM Archaeologist Sarah Tichonuk dives in Lake George to secure benthic mats designed to eradicate the invasive Asian clam.

Why are they bad for the lake?  They are filter feeders, and directly compete with juvenile fish for native mollusks food. Even worse, though, is their excretion (that’s poo) contains high concentrations of nutrients, and promotes rapid algae growth in the lake – an acute threat to the water quality.  But don’t take my word for it; the folks out in Lake Tahoe have been struggling with the Asian clam for years. See some of the photos from UC Davis’ Tahoe Environmental Research Center

To get rid of the little suckers, benthic barriers – essentially plastic pool lining cut into 50 x 7 foot rectangles – were placed down on the bottom of Lake George by some very cold-hearty divers in late April this year, in the hopes of suffocating the clams.  Five acres of the lake bottom are covered – that’s more than 700 mats!  These mats were installed in April, but waves and boating traffic have disturbed some of them. LCMM’s Adam Kane, Chris Sabick and I went diving last week assisted by mariner Tom Larsen to secure those mats that have shifted.

Although the Asian clam can live in waters as deep as 250 feet, the colony in Lake George is in shallow water.
Although the Asian clam can live in waters as deep as 250 feet, the colony in Lake George is in shallow water.

But burping? When a plastic mat covers something organic – say, weeds – it kills it. (That’s the whole point, right?) That decomposing organic matter off-gasses, creating bubbles under the tarps, which look very spooky underwater. One of our tasks last week was to “burp” out those bubbles so the mats lie flat on the lake bottom.

LCMM expects to return to Lake George to assist in the removal of these mats this summer. Let’s hope the benthic barriers have done their job.

The Asian clam problem in Lake George is being handled by several collaborative institutions, including the Lake George Association, the Darrin Fresh Water Institute and the FUND for Lake George with funding from the Lake Champlain Basin Program and others. Read more about the Eradication Plan from the Lake George Asian Clam Rapid Response Task Force.

The 417 Boy Scouts of Three Rivers District

[slideshow]417 Boy Scouts from Vermont’s Three Rivers District took over the Lake Champlain Maritime Museum this past Saturday for a full day of fun, learning, and hands-on activities. These young men are from Chittenden, Franklin, Grand isle, and Western Lamoille counties in Vermont, and they had their Spring Camporee at Button Bay State Park, and with us! They toured the site, visited our Conservation Lab, stepped aboard the gunboat Philadelphia II, tried out the horse-powered ferry, and more:

Blacksmithing Courses Expert blacksmith instructors worked with scouts all day long. Blacksmith Brian Anderson demonstrated in the eighteenth century forge, and instructors Peter Wells and Bob Wetzel lead the scouts in making iron campsite pokers. (Those must have come in handy Saturday night when they were camping.)

Rowing More than 200 scouts got to try out LCMM’s pilot gigs on Lake Champlain. Working together as 6 or 8-person teams, they rowed these graceful and powerful wooden boats at our waterfront.

Woodworking LCMM volunteer John Tichonuk worked with scouts to try out traditional woodworking tools and techniques. They used tools like an auger, a draw knife, and a spoke shave.

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZRXljSQ-L2o&w=425&h=344]

ROV Demos LCMM uses this same Remotely Operated Vehicle (ROV) to explore some of Lake Champlain’s 300 shipwrecks. Scouts got to see things up close and personal as we beamed the video to an inside screen.

Thanks to all our volunteers for making this a great day, and THANKS, Boy Scouts! We invite you to send us an email at info@lcmm.org or leave a comment below.

Got a Boy or Girl scout in your family? Bring him or her to LCMM – or bring the whole troop for a great field trip! Call (802) 475-2022 to schedule something exceptional!

Then and Now: Tom Larsen

Tom Larsen at Rabble in Arms, 2001 (photo by Kris Jarrett)
Tom Larsen at Rabble in Arms, 2001 (photo: Kris Jarrett)

Tom came to the museum as a volunteer at the tender age of 13. Despite starting with the mind numbing task of painting trim, he stuck with it and managed to get time in the blacksmith shop, as well as learning the art of interpreting on a large scale replica.

Tom was hired on as a seasonal interpreter in 2005.  This was right as the Lois McClure was headed out on its Grand Journey, and the staff was stretched thin on the museum grounds.  He spent most of his time on the Philadelphia II, learning more about how to present history in an engaging way to the public.

Tom in the Grey Oocher, 2008
Tom in the Grey Oocher, 2008 (photo: Kathleen Carney)

Throughout his time at Hartwick College (getting a degree in Information Science), Tom continued as a seasonal employee of the museum, joining the crew of the Lois McClure in 2007 for the Grand Canal Journey.  He started as a regular deckhand, though specifically part of the crew in the small inflatable (the Grey Oocher) used for tight maneuvering and docking.  As the tours continued, his role became more involved in the logistics of getting the boat from place to place and all the little details needed to make that work smoothly (though he still is in the inflatable whenever the Lois comes in to dock).

In the last two years, as the museum’s online presence has expanded, Tom has become the coordinator of all the social media content put out by the museum. Facebook (fan page and profile), YouTube, Flickr, and this blog are the main channels used, but he’s always open to new ideas for sharing the latest and greatest happenings at LCMM.  Comments? Feedback? Suggestions? Feel free to comment here, or contact him directly at toml@lcmm.org

Keeping Things Hot in the Dead of Winter

by Erick Tichonuk

If I had a dollar for every person who says to me, “So, with the museum closed for the winter it must be pretty slow down there,” our economic worries would be fewer.  I need to correct their assumption, because in many ways it’s more hectic.  The winter is spent planning for the next season.  How do we tackle marketing?  What are our special events going to be like?  What are this year’s courses and workshops?  Where’s Lois McClure going this year?  And perhaps most important, how are we going to pay for all the programming?  After a winter’s worth of planning, the “open” season is implementing everything you’ve put in motion – something we’re getting better at every year, but never take for granted.

Warren Rinehart working on a piece
Warren Rinehart working on a piece (photo: Tom Larsen)

Another thing we tackle in winter is facilities repairs and improvements.  Some of our infrastructure hit its twenty-fifth year and it’s starting to show.  Maintenance is becoming more important and regular.  We’re really fortunate to have some great friends that empower us to keep things going.  One of our best friends is Warren Rinehart.  Warren befriended the museum a number of years ago.  As an avid blacksmith he was looking for a place to set up shop.  He made us an offer we couldn’t refuse; let him build his shop on our site and we could have half the building for our student courses and workshops.  The Rinehart Blacksmithing Arts Center became a reality in 2008 and LCMM now boasts one of the premier blacksmithing facilities in the region.

Erick Tichonuk hanging plywood on the ceiling
Erick Tichonuk hanging plywood on the ceiling of the blacksmith shop (photo: Tom Larsen)

As great as the building is now, there are a few finishing touches for the interior of the student side of the shop; an estimated $8,000 worth of work remains.  This past fall Warren once again empowered us to make improvements by gifting half of the money. Already this winter we’ve finished much of the interior, but more work is on the docket and we’d like your help to match Warren’s gift.  All the new excitement and enthusiasm for blacksmithing at LCMM has prompted us to add a page to our web site to provide updates on activities surrounding the shop.  Check it out and help us keep the momentum of Warren’s initiative by striking while the iron is hot!  Make a donation today.

Erick Tichonuk
Deputy Director, LCMM