The Phoenix, built by the Lake Champlain Steamboat Company and launched in 1815, was the second commercial steamboat on Lake Champlain. The steamer, commanded by Captain Jahaziel Sherman, maintained a regular schedule between Whitehall, NY and St. Johns, Quebec, with stops at other Lake ports along the route.
At 11:00 P.M. on September 4, 1819, the Phoenix left Burlington for Plattsburgh, NY, with 46 passengers and crew, under the command of Captain Sherman's son, Richard. An unusual glow in the amidships galley provided the first warning that a fire had broken out on board, but the discovery was made too late to save the Phoenix. The passengers were roused from their cabins and loaded into two small boats. Unfortunately, in the confusion, a dozen people (including the captain) were left to fend for themselves on the burning ship.
Sherman and several others were rescued from the Lake in the morning but six others were not so lucky and perished in the Lake's cold, dark waters. The cause of the fire was said to have been a candle carelessly left burning in the pantry; however, circumstantial evidence suggests that the fire may have been intentionally set by competing lake sailing interests.
The Phoenix is part of the Vermont Underwater Historic Preserves. The Preserves were established by the Vermont Division of Historic Preservation to protect these irreplaceable resources from harm, preserve them for future generations, and provide public access for divers and the public. The Archaeology team at Lake Champlain Maritime Museum manages these sites.
Cite This Work
Museum, L. C. M. (2021, April 13). Virtual Tour of the Steamboat Phoenix Shipwreck. World History Encyclopedia. Retrieved from https://www.worldhistory.org/video/2446/virtual-tour-of-the-steamboat-phoenix-shipwreck/
Museum, Lake Champlain Maritime. "Virtual Tour of the Steamboat Phoenix Shipwreck." World History Encyclopedia. Last modified April 13, 2021. https://www.worldhistory.org/video/2446/virtual-tour-of-the-steamboat-phoenix-shipwreck/.
Museum, Lake Champlain Maritime. "Virtual Tour of the Steamboat Phoenix Shipwreck." World History Encyclopedia. World History Encyclopedia, 13 Apr 2021. Web. 21 Sep 2021.