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The Champlain II

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  • Open for Recreation: Generally from Memorial Day until Columbus Day
  • Fee: Free
  • Contact Information:
    • DEC Region 5 Ray Brook Office (M-F, 8:30 AM - 4:45 PM), 518-897-1200; Info.R5@dec.ny.gov
    • Enforcement Matters: 518-408-5850 (24/7) or 911
  • Location: Town of Westport, Essex County
  • Map: Google Earth || DECinfo Locator

Launched in Burlington in 1868, the Champlain II was originally called the Oakes Ames and was used to ferry railroad cars from Burlington to Plattsburgh. It was renamed and converted for passenger transport by the Champlain Transportation Co. in 1874. Her career as a passenger ferry was short however, as she was lost on the night of July 16, 1875. The Champlain II left Westport heading north and soon ran aground near Barn Rock. Everyone on board made it to shore safely.

An investigation found that the pilot at the time, John Eldredge, had been taking morphine to relieve his gout symptoms and this is what led to the accident. As the Champlain II was only insured against fire, the Champlain Transportation Co. tried to make up for the loss by salvaging the engines and parts of the structure. The submerged stern section was left, however, only 163 feet of the original 244-foot long hull remains.

Featured Activities

Scuba Diving

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See diving guidelines for using New York’s Submerged Heritage Preserve sites.

This is a beginner-level dive. The Champlain II is located close to shore in 15-35 feet of water. The bottom is silty and contact with it should be avoided to maintain visibility. The wreck is 163 feet long and 34 feet wide and is infested with zebra mussels, so wear gloves to avoid cuts. Also watch for fishing line and carry a knife. The vessel’s sternpost is located closest to shore and is unstable, so avoid contact with it and beware of overhanging sections of the vessel. Note the massive engine mounts on either side, plus the frames that were broken from impact near the deeper end of the wreck.

Pictures and video of the wreck can be found on the Lake Champlain Maritime Museum website (leaves DEC website).

Access to the Champlain II in the Lake Champlain Underwater Historic Preserve is free of charge but divers must register annually prior to use the Preserve System. Go to Vermont Underwater Historic Preserves (leaves DEC website) to register.

Directions

The wreck lies close to the New York shore between Barn Rock and Rock Harbor, north of Westport and across from Basin Harbor, VT. It is located at 44.2060°N, 73.3763°W – Google Maps (leaves DEC website). Note that the shoreline is private property.

Coordinates provided are in decimal degrees using NAD83/WGS84 datum.

Rules and Regulations for Submerged Heritage Preserves Sites

New York State and federal laws make these resources the shared cultural and historic legacy and property of the people of New York. These laws help preserve this heritage so that future generations can enjoy and learn it.

Please take nothing but photographs. Removing artifacts or damaging resources is forbidden by law and deprives others of the opportunity to view and study them. Removing artifacts or damaging shipwrecks, trail lines, signage or buoys in the preserve system may also jeopardize continuation of the Submerged Heritage Preserve sites. These shipwrecks are fragile; please do not touch them.

If you observe a violation, please report it to authorities by dialing 911 (*911 from a cellular phone). All violations will be investigated and violators prosecuted to the full extent of the law.

Nearby State Lands, Facilities, Amenities & Other Information

State Lands and Facilities

Gas can be found in the nearby communities of Elizabethtown and Port Henry.
Food and other supplies can be found in the nearby communities of Elizabethtown, Port Henry and Westport.
Dining opportunities can be found in the nearby communities of Elizabethtown, Essex, Port Henry and Westport.
Lodging can be found in the nearby communities of Elizabethtown, Essex and Westport.
Public Boat Launches can be found at Crown Point, Port Henry and Westport.
Marinas can be found at Essex, Port Henry and Westport.

Adirondack Regional Tourism Council (leaves DEC website), Adirondack Coast (leaves DEC website) and Champlain Area Trails (leaves DEC website) can provide information about other recreation, attractions and amenities in this area.

Numerous guide books and maps are available with information on the lands, waters, trails and other recreational facilities in this area. These can be purchased at most outdoor equipment retailers, bookstores, and on-line booksellers.

Additional information, outdoor equipment, trip suggestions and guided or self-guided tours may be obtained from outdoor guide and outfitting businesses. Check area chambers of commerce, telephone directories or search the internet for listings.

Consider hiring an outdoor guide if you have little experience or woodland skills. See the NYS Outdoor Guides Association (leaves DEC website) for information on outdoor guides.

 
 
 
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  • NYSDEC
    Submerged Heritage Preserves
    Region 5
    Route 86, Box 296
    Ray Brook, NY 12977-0296
    518-897-1276
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