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Historic Lake George - Underwater

  Courtesy of Bob Benway of Bateaux Below, Inc.

Beneath the clear waters of Lake George lie shipwrecks from an era that predates the United States of America.  The British fought the French for control of this continent for many years, culminating in the French and Indian War of 1755-1763.  The many reconstructed land sites such as Forts William Henry, Ticonderoga and George are familiar to most people but underneath the waters of Lake George are intact reminders of a time when young George Washington was still learning his military skills. 

Of particular interest is a vessel known as a radeau, it was a floating gun battery that offered its crew some means of protection due to its unique shape, much like the sloping sides of the Confederate vessel VIRGINIA, a.k.a. MERRIMAC. It typically carried large cannons that could be off-loaded and used on land.  Sunk in 104 feet of water in the southern basin is one of these vessels which was discovered in 1990 by Bateaux Below, Inc., a local underwater archaeological survey group.  Historic research proved her to be the LAND TORTOISE built by Captain Samuel Cobb in 1758.  She is not really a wreck; she’s a brand new boat that just happens to be 244 years old (in 2002) having been intentionally sunk only 2 days after her launching.  The British built her after suffering a major loss to the French, her intended purpose was to lead and protect a column of vessels up the lake on the next attack.  However she was never recovered and another was built to take her place.  Since Fort William Henry had been burned down the previous year and there was no safe place for the soldiers to winter at the lake, the British sank approximately 260 boats of various classes in the fall of 1758 to keep them out of French hands; they had a nasty habit of burning British property. 

The vessel today is an underwater museum for divers under the management of NY DEC and can be visited during the summer months free of charge.  The Lake George Historical Association was instrumental in establishing this site into what she is today.  Not only is the LAND TORTOISE on the National Register of Historic Places, she also has the honor and status of being a National Historic Landmark, one of only 6 other shipwrecks in the country to make it there.  This puts her in company with other famous wrecks such as the ARIZONA and MONITOR.

Underwater History

When visiting the Lake George Historical Museum spend some time in the "Historic Underwater Vessels" room to study scale models of the Radeau and view many photos taken at the underwater sites in Lake George.

For information on exhisting dive sites for certified divers in Lake George, please select Diver's Guide.

 

 

The Bateau
Divers' Guide
Lake George Historical Association
PO Box 472
Lake George, NY 12845

lgha@verizon.net

Copyright © 2002 Lake George Historical Association
Last modified: August 28, 2007