Steamship Champlain

Shipwreck of the Steamship Champlain located by side scan sonar.

Fairport, NY…. April 27, 1981…

With the use of sophisticated sonar equipment, the passenger steamship Champlain, which wrecked near Westport, N.Y. in 1873, has been located by Jim Kennard and Joe Zarzynski. The Champlain was built in 1868 and was owned by the Lake Champlain Transportation Company. The vessel, 243 feet long with a 35 foot beam, carried passengers and freight on Lake Champlain from Ticonderoga to Rouses Point.

During the evening of July 15, 1875, the Champlain had just departed from Westport, N.Y. and was headed up the lake to Burlington, Vermont. The pilot apparently fell asleep at the wheel and the Champlain was driven at full speed into a rock ledge. Fortunately, there were no injuries and all the passengers and cargo were safely removed. The Champlain was a total loss.

Subsequent accounts of the Champlain indicated that it had been removed from the ledge and sunk in deep water. The research by Kennard and Zarzynski indicated that this was not the case. The Champlain was located in shallow water near the original site of the wreck. The sonar equipment produced a series of "sonographs" (similar to an aerial photograph) of the remains of the Champlain. A dive was then made to positively confirm the identity of the shipwreck.

Two years ago (1979), these shipwreck enthusiasts were successful in locating the steamship Phoenix, which sank in 1819 north of Burlington, Vermont. Kennard designed and built the sonar equipment that was used during these investigations. His dive partner, Scott Hill, assisted with navigating the sonar survey boat.  Joe Zarzynski heads up the Lake Champlain Phenomena Investigation committee and has been involved in the investigation of the mysteries of the lake which include an extensive study of sightings of the legendary Lake Champlain monster. Later this year Zarzynski, assisted by Kennard and Hill, will be featured on a forth-coming REAL PEOPLE television show. This program will feature a segment concerning the existence of CHAMP, the Lake Champlain monster.

Location:   N44° 12.36,    W73° 22.58       Bouyed wreck site. 

 The remaining 163 ft of the 244 ft hull of the steamer Champlain lies very close to shore just north of Westport, New York between Barn Rock Harbor and Rock Harbor.  



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