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The Lake Champlain Sailing Canal Boat

Joseph Robert Cozzi
Dissertation: August 2000
Chair: Crisman

The nineteenth century witnessed profound developments in North American inland vessel construction. The story of the steamboat is familiar, but other vessels have not received adequate attention. In particular, canal boats are poorly understood in may respects. Only recently have historians and archaeologists come to discover that sailing canal boats were used extensively on Lake Champlain.
The first half of this dissertation provides an historical context for the development of North American inland watercraft and specifically sailing canal boats associated with the Champlain Valley. The second half presents archaeological data from these investigations are presented here to provide descriptions and drawings of the design, construction, and general appearance of these unique vessels. This study concludes that boat builders developed the sailing canal boat from existing types of inland watercraft and developed innovative construction techniques to produce lightly-framed vessels that were well-suited to canal and lake transportation, and which played a significant role in the economic development of the Champlain Valley in the mid-nineteenth century.