All underwater historic sites in Lake Champlain belong in public trust to the people of the respective states in whose water they lie. The Lake Champlain Underwater Historic Preserves, founded in 1982, provides public access for divers to some of the Lake’s historic shipwrecks. The Vermont Survey Archaeologist supervises the program with the aid of the Lake Champlain Maritime Museum, U.S. Coast Guard, Vermont State Archaeologist, State of New York officials, and a team of dedicated professionals who volunteer their expertise and time. Essential to the success of the program is the public partnership, with registered divers identifying and monitoring these preserves. The significance of this program is growing rapidly as social media educates and attracts the diving public to our Underwater Historic Preserves.
Ten sites are currently open for the diving public to visit, including the late 19th- and early-20th-century wreckage of canal boats, steamboats, sailing vessels, a schooner, and a horse ferry. The Underwater Historic Preserves are visited approximately 2,000 times annually by divers and remote observers. With the continued cooperation of the recreational diving community, these wrecks will be available for generations of divers to enjoy.
The sites are marked by location moorings with identification buoys and underwater signs. The State Police of New York, Vermont State Police Marine Division, and U.S. Coast Guard assist with monitoring. Access to the sites in the Lake Champlain Underwater Historic Preserve is free of charge, but divers must register annually prior to visiting a shipwreck.