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Maritime Burlington is a porthole to Lake Champlain at the waterfront’s history

Canal boats in port, Burlington, VT, early 1900s. Lake Champlain Maritime Museum Collection.  PHOTO CONTRIBUTED

Canal boats in port, Burlington, VT, early 1900s. Lake Champlain Maritime Museum Collection.

Maritime Burlington

Where: Perkins Pier, Burlington waterfront

When: Daily through Aug. 23; Wednesday-Sunday through Oct. 12; 10 a.m.-5 p.m.


What’s in that festive big top tent on Perkins Pier at the foot of Maple Street in Burlington? The Lake Champlain Maritime Museum’s new interpretive exhibit, Maritime Burlington. The exhibit, which opened on June 20 and runs daily through Aug. 23 (and then Wednesday-Sunday through Oct. 12), serves as a porthole to history for visitors and area residents, and a discovery resource for museum’s new Lake Adventure Camps.

Maritime Burlington presents highlights from the maritime museum’s nautical archaeology fieldwork and historical research encourages exploration and discovery.

“We are very excited to be greeting the public right where so much history happened,” says Executive Director Mike Smiles. “The lake’s first steamboat, Vermont – and the second commercially successful steamboat in the world – was launched right here on the Burlington waterfront in 1808.”

Changing views of the Burlington waterfront invite us to travel through time, seeing the breakwater, lighthouses, steamboats, canal boats, railroads and the cargoes that shipped in and out of the Champlain Valley, all helping to shape the city.

The exhibit also includes stories of former slaves for whom the historic waterway served as a corridor to freedom. Visitors can use a working replica of a 19th century crane to lift cargo into a small-scale canal boat. On weekends, there will be live demonstrations of maritime skills such as shaping spars, ropework and rigging.

Several boats from the museum’s fleet will also add color to the waterfront at Perkins Pier: MV Baldwin, which will host Saturday Shipwreck tours in July and August; and “Champlain Longboats,” the student-built rowing boats used for community rowing, regional racing events, and On Water Ecology tours.

Schooner Lois McClure and her companion wooden tugboat C. L. Churchill will also be in port, although the schooner is not available for boarding in 2015 while preparing for restoration work this fall.


About the museum

Lake Champlain Maritime Museum is located on the shore of Lake Champlain, seven miles from historic Vergennes, at 4472 Basin Harbor Road, across from the Basin Harbor Club. A museum that makes a difference, LCMM brings underwater discoveries and lake adventures to the public in exciting and imaginative ways. New, hands-on “60 Minute Experiences” are offered daily. The museum is open daily from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. through Oct. 11, 2015. LCMM Members and children 5 and under receive free admission. For more information call (802) 475-2022 or visit www.lcmm.org.

— Staff report