Residents dive into Shelburne history

The new officers of the Shelburne Historical Society from left to right: David Webster, Secretary; Judy Frazer, President; Dorothea Penar, Vice President; and Stuart Morrow, Treasurer.
The new officers of the Shelburne Historical Society from left to right: David Webster, Secretary; Judy Frazer, President; Dorothea Penar, Vice President; and Stuart Morrow, Treasurer.

Freezing temperatures did not keep the standing room only crowd away from the Shelburne Historical Society’s (SHS) gathering at the Town Offices on Friday evening, Feb. 13. The planned event began with the election of officers of the newly revived SHS and concluded with a discussion by Christopher Sabick of the Lake Champlain Maritime Museum (LCMM).

After the unanimous election of Judy Frazer, President; Dorothea Penar, Vice President; Stuart Morrow, Treasurer; and David Webster, Secretary, the Archaeological Director of LCMM took the audience on an armchair expedition into the dark waters of Lake Champlain. Sabick drew on information gathered during Shelburne Shipyard Steamboat Field School, a project conducted by Texas A&M University students last summer in which he assisted. The team researched four wrecks with “the principal objectives [being to] document the dimensions and principal construction features of each hull and to determine, if possible, each wreck’s identity,” according to an article later published by team leaders Dr. Kevin Crisman, Vice President of the Institute of Nautical Archaeology, and graduate student Carolyn Kennedy.

This summer students will return to further investigate one of those four wrecks, The Winooski, in hopes of uncovering new information that will answer some of the “many questions [that] remain about the dynamic, highly experimental steamboat design and construction practices of the 1820s and 1830s,” as Crisman and Kennedy concluded in their article. The Winooski is a prime subject for study, as much of the structure is well preserved under silt and rocks.

Following a lively question and answer session with Sabick, audience members enjoyed complimentary refreshments, each other’s company, and a reason to postpone diving into the icy February air.

For more information about SHS and upcoming events email Shelburne1763@gmail.com, or post to PO Box 101, Shelburne VT, 05482. SHS members will be available to answer questions and discuss past events with interested community members at Town Meeting, Monday, March 2 from 5-7pm at the Shelburne Community School, and from 7am-7pm during voting at the town gym on Tuesday, March 3.