‘Extraordinarily rare’: intact 1,200-year-old canoe recovered from Wisconsin lake

Two divers discovered it on their way to work underwater and took it with them.
The vessel was found in approximately 27ft of water, and it was brought to shore this week.

According to Jim Skibo, state archaeologist, this is the first time that the thing has ever been out of water in over 1,200 years.

Christian Overland, chief executive officer of the Wisconsin Historical Society, described the canoe as a remarkable artifact while Amy Rosebrough, an archaeologist, said it was extremely rare.

Rosebrough stated that Wisconsin doesn't have anything similar.

Tamara Thomsen (a maritime archaeologist) and Mallory Dragt, her friend, went on an underwater joyride with their scooters in June. CNN reported that they saw what appeared to be a log sticking out from the bottom of the lake while doing so.

Thomsen further investigated the vessel and discovered it was a canoe. The vessel was more than 1,000 years of age, according to carbon dating.

The People of the Big Water were the Ho-Chunk Nation of Native Americans' ancestors. They built dugout canoes by burning logs and then scraping them with stone tools.

Skibo suggests that you cut down a tree two-and-a half feet in width using a stone tool, then hollow it out and make it float.

It took hundreds of hours and required a lot of skill. It is difficult to believe that people lived in an era when modern tools were not available.

Skibo stated that the canoe is still in good condition partly because it was not exposed to light.

One section of the intact canoe. Photograph by Wisconsin Historical Society/Youtube

He said that this is one reason we need to preserve it. It is home to living organisms that are actively chewing on it right as we speak.

The vessel will be preserved for several years and could end up in the proposed Wisconsin Historical Society museum in Madison.

Skibo stated that he is an archaeologist and tells stories using artifacts. This is a wonderful one.