Burlington Bay Horse Ferry
Courtesy of the Lake Champlain Maritime
The very fragile horse-powered ferry
in Burlington Bay is the only known surviving example of a turntable
"team-boat", a once common North American vessel type. Animal powered
vessels were introduced into North America in 1814. They became
a popular form of transportation for short-distance river and lake
crossing, until the middle of the 19th century, when they were surpassed
by the increasing use of steam power.
Lake Champlain's long, narrow shape
created the need for many ferry crossings between Vermont and New
York, crossings that were ideally suited to horse ferries. The use
of horse ferries on the Lake appears to have peaked in the 1830's
The Burlington Bay Horse Ferry was
discovered in the fall of 1983 during a side-scan sonar survey.
The identity and date of construction have not yet been determined.
Continued study of this unique vessel may provide more clues to
her name and date of sinking.
This vessel was featured in a National
Geographic article about horse powered vessels.
Features of Interest
- Size of wreck: 63' long, 23'
- The horizontal flywheel and gear
shaft are visible in the amidships.
- The two paddle wheels are perhaps
her most spectacular feature. The iron hubs and oak spokes are
deteriorated but intact; the paddle blades are missing. The paddle
wheels are easily damaged - please avoid touching them.
- Experience level: Intermediate
- Depth of water: 50'
- This vessel is weak and easily
damaged. Practice good buoyancy control and do not use any part
of the vessel to support your weight.
- Visibility can quickly become
poor. The mooring chains on the buoys tend to sink into the soft
silt bottom. Several small floating buoys have been attached to
the chain to guide you to the anchor pad.
- PRACTICE GOOD BUOYANCY CONTROL
ON THIS VERY FRAGILE VESSEL.
Approximately 2/3 of the way northwest from the north end of the
Burlington breakwater to Lone Rock Point.
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