The Wisconsin Dugout Canoe Survey began in 2018 when Ryan Smazal, an undergraduate student majoring in History, approached the Underwater Archaeology Program at the Wisconsin Historical Society about gaining research experience in underwater archaeology and she steered him toward looking at dugout canoes. Ryan’s interest quickly blossomed into a senior thesis and Sissel Schroeder came on board as his thesis advisor and to provide guidance on 3D imaging. After Ryan graduated from UW-Madison in 2019, Tamara Thomsen and Sissel Schroeder continued working on gathering data on dugouts around the state.
When this project started in 2018, 11 dugout canoes were documented in Wisconsin ranging in age from about 150 years old to a fragment from Kenosha County that is 1,850 years old. By November 2022, there were 63 reports of dugouts in the state (our research team has confirmed and documented 49 of them) that range in age from about 80 years old to a Lake Mendota dugout that is 4,000 calendar years old – now the oldest known “shipwreck” in the Great Lakes. This puts Wisconsin second in eastern North America for the number of reported dugout canoes, after Florida where more than 200 dugouts are known, half of them from Newnans Lake. The Wisconsin sample of dugouts has two of the 10 oldest dugouts in eastern North America that range between 4,000 and 6,000 years old.
The goals of the Wisconsin Dugout Canoe Survey include locating, identifying, and documenting dugouts across the state; measuring and describing the dugouts to compare size and form; using modern technology to develop 3D models of each dugout that will make them broadly accessible; determining the type of wood used to make the dugout; determining the age of the dugout using historic records, evidence of manufacturing methods, and radiocarbon dates; and describing the condition of the dugout and how it is stored or presented to develop a set of best practices for the conservation, preservation, curation, and exhibition of this rare form of material culture.
|Amberg Historical Society||Avrid E. Miller Library||Camp 5 Logging Museum||Chippewa Valley Museum||Douglas County Historical Society|
|Door County Maritime Museum||George J. Brown, Jr. Ojibwe Museum||Historic Indian Agency House||Hoard Historical Museum||Iola Historical Society|
|Kenosha Public Museum Lake Marie Dugout||La Crosse County Historical Society Red Dugout||Manitowoc Historical Society Glomski Lake Dugout||Menominee Logging Museum Dugouts 1, 2, and 3||Milwaukee Public Museum Peters Lake Dugout|
|Muskego Historical Society Big Muskego Lake Dugout||Neville Public Museum Menominee Dugout||Oconto County Historical Society Dugout||Oshkosh Public Museum Dugout||Peshtigo Historical Society Dugouts 1 and 2|
|Sawyer County Historical Society Jacobson Dugout||Sheboygan County Historical Society Dugout||UW-Stevens Point Angus Lookaround Dugout||Wisconsin Historical Museums & Historic Sites (7 dugouts)||Wisconsin Canoe Heritage Museum Bass Lake Dugout and Gustafson Dugout|
|Wisconsin Maritime Museum Shoe Lake Dugout and Klopp Dugout|