A 1200 year old dugout canoe is lifted from Lake Mendota | Local news



Tamara Thomsen and Mallory Dragt thought they would take a lap under Lake Mendota on a couple of underwater scooters, motorized devices that divers use to drift through the water.

It was a beautiful Saturday morning in June and the duo who work at Divisions Scuba were discussing whether they had just seen a log sticking out of the bottom of the 9,781 acre lake or something extremely rare.

The discovery on a slope in 27 feet of water near Shorewood Hills has proven to be as historic as it gets.

A 1200 year old dugout canoe was raised from Lake Mendota by the Wisconsin Historical Society on Tuesday. Discovered during a recreational dive in June, the canoe is the oldest intact boat ever recovered from Wisconsin waters. The canoe will be preserved for the next two years before it can be exhibited in a museum.


After a little research, it turns out that Thomsen, who is also a marine archaeologist for the Wisconsin Historical Society, was right in assuming it was more than a log; it was a dugout canoe. A few weeks later, carbon-14 dating showed the 15-foot ship was an estimated 1,200 years old, the oldest intact boat ever found in Wisconsin waters.

On a busy Tuesday, amidst waves and 50-degree water, the canoe was brought ashore by teams of divers who shared fists and hugs to applause from Spring Harbor residents who had gathered on the beach to witness the return of the Canoes to the shore.

Dugout canoe

Passers-by watch as a dugout canoe is brought to Spring Harbor Beach with yellow floats. It took almost two hours for the 1 mile drive.


“This is the first time this thing has been out of the water in 1200 years. “It wasn’t just underwater, but also underground. The reason it’s been so well preserved is that it hasn’t been exposed to light. That’s one of the reasons we need to start preserving it. There are living organisms on it chewing on it as we speak. “



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