Champlain II

This Historic Underwater Preserve is located in the New York Waters of Lake Champlain. The Champlain II was originally named the Oakes Ames when launched in Burlington in 1868. It was built to ferry railroad cars from Burlington to Plattsburgh.

In 1874 the Champlain Transportation Company converted Oakes Ames into one of the line vessels for the transport of passengers and renamed it the Champlain II.

Champlain II's career as a line vessel was cut short on the night of July 16, 1875. While at dock in Westport, NY, the pilots changed shifts. John Eldredge took over the wheel from Ell Rockwell. Rockwell would later recount that John Eldredge had "appeared glum." The Champlain II headed north out of Westport, and a short time later there came a tremendous crash. It was soon evident to everyone on board that the enormous steamer had run aground.

Up in the pilot house Rockwell had returned to see what was amiss. Eldredge turned to Rockwell and asked, "Can you account for my being on the mountain?" All persons on board were safely disembarked on shore. A subsequent investigation found that John Eldredge had suffered from a disorder called gout. To relieve the symptoms he had been taking morphine and had frequented pharmacies around the lake.

Champlain II was only insured against fire. The Lake Champlain Transportation Company tried to recoup some of its losses by salvaging the engines and superstructure, but the submerged stern section was allowed to remain.

Features of Interest:

Size of wreck: 163' of the original 244' long hull remains, 34' wide.
The vessel's stern post is situated closest to shore and is unstable. Avoid contact.
Note the massive engine mounts on either side.
Note the frames broken from impact near the deeper end of the wreck.

Diving Guidelines:

Experience level: Beginner.
Depth of water: 15' - 35'
The bottom is silty. Stay off the bottom to avoid limited visibility.
The vessel is infested with zebra mussels. Gloves are recommended to avoid cuts.
Beware of overhanging sections of the vessel. Watch for fishing line. Carry a knife.

Location:

44° 12.36N, 73° 22.58W
The wreck lies close to the New York shore between Barn Rock and Rock Harbor, north of Westport, NY, and across from Basin Harbor, VT.
The shoreline is private. Please do not land here.

Contact Info

Jess Robinson, State Archaeologist
802-272-2509

One National Life Drive
Deane C. Davis Building, 6th Floor
Motpelier, VT  05620-0501

Archaeology Heritage Center
802-479-1928

60 Washington Street
Barre, VT  05641