‘A remarkable artifact’: 1,200-year-old canoe pulled from lake in Wisconsin

Local News

MADISON, Wis. (WFRV) – A 1,200-year-old canoe was pulled from Lake Mendota, and it could be the oldest completely intact water vessel known in Wisconsin.

The Wisconsin Historical Society says maritime archaeologists recovered a dugout wood canoe from the bottom of Lake Mendota on Nov. 2. The canoe is estimated to be 1,200-years-old and was in use around 800 A.D.

Carbon dating was reportedly used to determine the age of the canoe. The Dane County Sheriff’s Office dive team helped raise the canoe from a depth of around 30 feet.

“The dugout canoe found in Lake Mendota is a significant artifact of the continuum of canoe culture in the Western Great Lakes region,” said Christian Overland, the Ruth and Hartley Barker Director & CEO for the Wisconsin Historical Society.

Officials say that the canoe was transported to Wisconsin’s State Archive Preservation Facility in Madison, and was placed into a custom-built storage vat. The vat contains water and a bio-deterrent to help protect the canoe from physical deterioration.

A chemical solution will eventually be added to the vat, which will replace the water in the cellular structure of the wood. The preservation process is estimated to take about three years.

“The canoe is a remarkable artifact, made from a single tree, that connects us to the people living in this region 1,200 years ago. As the Society prepares to open a new history museum in 2026, we are excited about the new possibilities it offers to share Native American stories and culture through the present day.” said Overland

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