Lake Champlain Maritime Museum

Programs, Interpretive Exhibits, Activities, Learning Opportunities

LCMM-300

Lake Champlain Maritime Museum is delighted to present special activities at the 2017 Maritime Festival on Saturday July 29. Discover the traditional skill of Log Rolling through live demonstrations. Enjoy the beautiful waters of Lake Champlain in one of our traditional 32’ six-oared rowing boats.

If you appreciate the lake’s maritime heritage, we invite you to visit Lake Champlain Maritime Museum. LCMM offers an array of programs, interpretive exhibits, and hands on activities – opportunities to “go deeper” as you experience the rich submerged cultural heritage, ecology, and history of Lake Champlain. Enroll in a hands-on Lake Adventure Camp for young explorers, join our Community Rowing Club, investigate shipwrecks on our ROV tour, and explore special exhibits at our Vergennes campus.

“Gig and Ice Cream” Longboat Rowing.  Saturday July 29, 10-2
Location: Community Sailing Center, Try out rowing with a team in a coxed gig from the Lake Champlain Maritime Museum fleet used in community rowing and regional racing events. Get a coupon for free ice cream, provided by the Community Sailing Center. (First come, first served. Weather permitting.)

Log Rolling: Saturday, July 29, 12-3pm Location: North side of Boathouse access
Danielle Rougeau, coach of the Middlebury College Log Rolling Club, demonstrates the skills of a 160-year tradition on wooden and synthetic logs on the water. Hosted by Lake Champlain Maritime Museum. Watch from the Boardwalk or bring your bathing suit and try it for yourself! (Changing rooms available. Weather permitting)

Forests, Waterways and Log Rolling
Log Rolling is now a sport. In the 1700s and 1800s, this was an important skill as logs were floated down rivers to Lake Champlain and rafted up for transport to Canada. For many early settlers of the Champlain Valley, their first income was based on shipping lumber north to Canada for export to Europe. At the tributary rivers of Lake Champlain, giant logs up to 80 feet long were piled at “rolling banks” along the river during the winter. When spring flooding raised water levels, the logs were rolled into the river by means of a log slide and floated downstream into Lake Champlain.

Transporting logs over the water was not for the faint of heart. Between cutting, assembling and floating a raft downriver to Quebec City, the task could take up to a year to complete. During the winter months, marketable logs were rolled out on the ice or floated downriver to the lake where they were gathered together. Massive log rafts were floated northward, equipped with sails, rudder, and shelter and provisions for the crew. Early records mention mast pines from Shelburne in 1766, oak timber for ship building from Colchester in 1794, and Norway pine from Charlotte in 1796. In 1789, Rev. Nathan Perkins observed on Lake Champlain “a raft of lumber went off for Canada, which covered an acre of water and had two little huts on it.” At St. John’s, customs officials inspected the log rafts for smuggled goods, and then they continued down the Richelieu to the rapids, where its cribs were separated and floated over individually, reassembled at Sorel, and then sent the rest of the way out into the St. Lawrence River and down to Quebec City.

Between lumber exports, land cleared for farming, and wood burned for heating, Vermont’s forests were gradually depleted. By 1850, following the opening of the Chambly Canal and the arrival of railroad service to Burlington, the flow of the lumber trade reversed. Now timber from Canadian forests was brought to Burlington on canal boats called Pin Plats, stacked in yards to season, and then milled into lumber or manufactured wood products which were shipped south by rail.