Lake Champlain isn't the first place many divers think of when they think of shipwrecks but the murky depths of this Great Lake are home to nearly 300 of them. The Great Lakes haven't always been so safe for seafarers, especially without the technology we have today. Due to Lake Champlain's very specific shape and narrow waterway, ships were constantly re-designed in order to figure out which made for the most efficient sailing - thus leading to plenty of shipwrecks in the process.
Nowadays, divers can swim to the bottom of the lakebed to see these old ships, many of which are only skeletons of what they once were. While the last century has taken a toll on their wood exteriors, the eerie structure of ships from an entirely different time period is still evident, even at the cloud depths.
The Horse Powered Ferry
Take a dive back in time while exploring Lake Champlain's horse-powered ferry. These were fully operational between 1830 and 1840, so the fact that this wreck has not fully deteriorated is a miracle.
The ship wasn't discovered until a bottom scan was done in 1983, revealing the ship at roughly 50 feet below the surface. Buoyancy is of the utmost importance when searching for this wreck, due to the fact that its condition has worn down so badly. Even the slightest touch could cause the original wood structure to break apart further, so divers must be especially careful when navigating this wreck.
General Butler actually came from Essex, New York, and sunk on December 9th of 1876. The ship's captain, William Montgomery, was from Isle la Motte and both he, and his crew, narrowly escaped drowning while making a harrowing jump from this schooner.
A powerful storm (which is not uncommon on the Great Lakes during the winter months) struck quite a battle on the lake, eventually breaking the steering mechanism of the ship. The ship ended up veering straight into the breakwater, thus throwing the Captain and his crew into a perilous situation had it not been for James Wakefield, the Burlington ship chandler, and his son, rowing out from the lighthouse to rescue them. The wreck itself has been called "remarkable" and sits at a depth of 40 feet.
The cousin to the schooner-rigged ship General Butler, the OJ Walker was named for Obadiah Johnson Walker, who was the region's best merchants. The ship was also a functioning home for Captain Weatherwax, who lived there with his family for more than nine years prior to its sinking.
On May 11th, 1895, OJ Walker met its fate during a rough storm. The wind grew too strong for the crew to maintain control of the ship, which eventually sprung a leak as it fought to stay afloat. The crew launched their lifeboat and watched as the ship tilted on its side, spilling most of its cargo, before righting itself and sinking in the storm. Special requirements are needed for this wreck, as it sits at a depth of 65 feet. The incredible thing about this wreck is that many of the ship's parts - including its mast, anchors, boom, and rigging - can still be seen below, along with various tiles, bricks, and hand carts on the ship's cargo deck.
Next: 20 Jaw-Dropping Underwater Images Of The Titanic Today