Prior to the construction of the Erie Canal, Durham boats were the primary cargo boats of the region’s inland waterways. These boats could transport more than 20 tons of raw materials and finished goods along shallow rivers like the Mohawk.
Until recently, what was known about Durham boats came only from old, written descriptions. There were no identified archaeological remains of a Durham boat that historians could touch and study—until anthropologist Ben Ford helped unmask one.
The first recorded archaeological example of a Durham boat was recently discovered in Lake Oneida. The details of the construction, use, and loss of this shipwreck are shedding new light on this once ubiquitous boat-type.
The Oneida County History Center will host Durham Boats in Oneida Lake: Underwater Archaeology, a virtual program set for Wednesday, April 28th.
Beginning at 6:30 pm, Ben Ford, Chair of the Anthropology Department at Indiana University of Pennsylvania, will share the story of the first recorded archaeological example of a Durham boat which was recently discovered in Lake Oneida. Ford will share details of the construction, use, and loss of this shipwreck are shedding new light on this once ubiquitous boat-type.
Ford is the Chair of the Anthropology Department and a Professor specializing in maritime and historical archaeology at Indiana University of Pennsylvania. Ben is a Registered Professional Archaeologist and the 2015 Archaeological Institute of America McCann-Taggart Underwater Archaeology Lecturer. His current research focuses on 18th-century connections across the Mid-Atlantic region and includes work at Historic Hanna’s Town, the first British county seat west of the Allegheny Mountains, and Fort Necessity National Battlefield, as well as underwater archaeology work in Lake Erie and Lake Ontario.
The Oneida County History Center is a private 501(c) (3) not-for-profit educational institution dedicated to preserving the history, heritage, and culture of the Greater Mohawk Valley for present and future generations.
Photo of underwater archaeology provided by the Oneida Couny History Center.