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Coal Barge

The A.R. Noyes represents perhaps the most common type of commercial vessel that operated on Lake Champlain and its related canal systems. The standard canal boat first appeared in 1823 with the opening of the Champlain Canal. These craft rapidly increased in numbers throughout the nineteenth century and operated on the Lake into the early 1900's. Canal barges had no independent means of propulsion. On lakes and rivers, they had to be towed by steam vessels and on canals they were moved by horse and mule. Canal boats frequently were the homes of families of "canalers" who lived on the boats and traveled from place to place to earn a living. Long trains of canal boats could still be seen on the Lake at the beginning of the 20th century, but disappeared after the expansion of the Champlain Canal in the 1920's.

The Coal Barge, A.R. Noyes is believed to have sunk, on October 17, 1884, when a number of canal boats broke loose from the steam tug Tisdale which was towing them on their way to Burlington. The A.R. Noyes was the only one reported lost.

Coal Barge Underwate Shipwreck

Features of Interest:

  • Size of wreck: 90' long; 14' wide
  • The rudder and rudder post are visible on the stern, facing up the slope towards Proctor Shoal.
  • In the cargo area, you will find remnants of the mules towing apparatus crushed and partially buried by the impact of the shifting coal which still remains in her hold.

Diving Guidelines:

  • Experience level: Advanced
  • Depth of water: 65' (stern) - 80' (bow)
  • The vessel rests on a gradual slope and extremely silty bottom. Visibility can quickly become very poor. The mooring chains tend to disappear into the soft silty bottom. Several small floating buoys have been attached to the chain to guide you to the anchor pad.
  • Underwater lights are highly recommended.
  • This wreck is extremely fragile; all effort should be made to avoid contact.


  • Just north of the Coast Guard's navigational buoy on Proctor Shoal.