General Butler Vandalized, Reward Offered For Information

The submerged wreck of the canal schooner General Butler was vandalized in September, 1995, by someone taking a Dead Eye. Prior to then, she had been left pristine by the many divers who have visited the site. Local diving shops have posted a $100 reward for information about the theft. Anyone with information should call the Vermont Division for Historic Preservation at 802-828-3226.

Art Cohn, owner of Waterfront Diving Center in Burlington and a director of the Lake Champlain Maritime Museum, characterizes the theft as “a violation of public trust [and a] ” disservice to other divers”.

The General Butler went down off the Burlington breakwater during a winter storm on December 9, 1876. The steering gear cracked from the wave pressure against the fully laden vessel and despite the efforts of Captain William Montgomery to jury-rig a tiller, she drifted into the breakwater. Fortunately, all on board, including the captain’s wife and daughter, were able to leap to safety and were rescued.

The wreck was found in 1980 and was opened by the Vermont Underwater Historic Preserve as a dive site over ten years ago.