History under the waves: The General Butler

By Tim Johnson

The General Butler was a sailing canal boat, a cargo vessel built in eighteen sixty two in Essex, New York. Eighty-eight feet long, fourteen and a half feet wide, she was designed to both sail on the lake, and travel through the Champlain Canal system.

She was the tractor trailer of the nineteenth century.  

On December ninth, eighteen seventy six, Captain William Montgomery had loaded her up with approximately thirty tons of marble form Fisk Quarry in Isle LaMotte.

In addition to carrying a few passengers including his daughter bound for Burlington, he had one able-bodied crew member on board. A powerful winter gale hit as he approached Burlington.

Eric Tichonuk, Archaeological Diver and Replica Coordinator for the Lake Champlain Maritime Museum describes the series of events that lead to one of the most dramatic shipwrecks in the lake's history in the final part of our series, "History Under the Waves."