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 February 2023, there were 68 reports of dugouts in the state (our research team has confirmed and documented 52 of them) that extend back to 4,000 calendar years old – now the oldest known “shipwreck” in the Great Lakes region. 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.
This is a research project in progress so check back later for updates!
Click Here to Check Out 3D Models of the Dugouts!
3D models have been produced by 1) scanning the dugout with an iPhone 13 Pro using the Scaniverse app on and then uploaded to Sketchfab.com, or 2) by taking 100+ time lapse photographs on a GoPro, processing and editing them in MetaShapePro on a MacBook Pro and uploading to Sketchfab.com. Scans and 3D models by Sissel Schroeder, GoPro photography by Tamara Thomsen.
- Dugouts Documented in Institutions and Collections
- Dugouts Not Documented or Not Located
- Dugouts in Lakes
|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 (3 Dugouts)||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 (2 Dugouts)|
|Sawyer County Historical Society Jacobson Dugout||Sheboygan County Historical Society Dugout||Smithsonian Institution Menominee Dugout||UW-Stevens Point Angus Lookaround Dugout||Wisconsin Historical Museums & Historic Sites (7 dugouts)|
|Wisconsin Canoe Heritage Museum (2 Dugouts)||Wisconsin Maritime Museum (3 Dugouts)||Kroenke Dugout, Shawano County||Whitefish Dunes State Park Dugout|
|Peters Lake Dugout||D. Maas Dugout||Round Lake Dugout, Price County||Pearl Lake Dugout||Lake Hasbrook Dugout|
|Leone Dugout||Lucius Dugout||Montello Feed Trough Dugout||Wojonowski Dugout, Winnebago County|
|Lake George Dugout||Holmes Lake Dugout, Burnett County||Holmes Lake Dugout, Burnett County||Sunfish Lake Dugout, Washburn County||Windigo Lake Dugout, Sawyer County|
|Lake Elma Dugout||Lake Mendota (4 Dugouts)|