An archaeological investigation of Shelburne Shipyard in Vermont — led by Kennedy and her supervisor, Kevin Crisman, with support from the Institute of Nautical Archaeology and the Vermont Division for Historic Preservation — revealed four steamboat wrecks in shallow water ranging in dates from 1820 to 1893.
“Lake Champlain is cold and dark and it’s freshwater — perfect conditions to preserve a wreck,” says Kennedy.
The team spent weeks examining the Shelburne wrecks, which were retired and purposely sunk after being stripped of their valuables. Researchers measured and collected data underwater, when a diver found a rare piece of an archeological puzzle — a chisel inscribed with the word Phoenix II.
Kennedy’s dissertation research explores steamboat construction to better understand the evolution of America’s early steamboats and their impact. She had also hoped to identify some of the wrecks, despite sparse and unreliable records.