When thinking of places to go scuba diving, exotic locations like Hawaii or a small island in the Caribbean usually comes to mind. One doesn’t think of the placid shores of Lake George in New York. A short 30-minute drive from Malta, NY, the lake is a renowned diving location that provides a plethora of options. Ranging from dive depths of 20’ to 150’, the lake offers unique natural land formations, plenty of freshwater fish, and 2 historic wrecks for adventurous divers to explore.
The Sunken Fleet of 1758 contains 8 bateaux that lay on the bottom of Lake George. A bateau is a flat-bottomed vessel commonly used to transport troops and supplies during the French and Indian War. Historians and archaeologists note that approximately 200 bateaux were sunk in Lake George during the conflict.
This diving location consists of 7 original bateaux that are roughly 36 feet long by 4-5 feet wide all from 1758. The 8th and final bateau was sunk in 1997. Local students and teachers constructed this replica vessel to test colonial sinking methods and to research the deterioration rate of a wooden vessel in a fresh water lake.
For non-diving visitors, a historical marker is placed on the shores of Lake George identifying the location of the fleet. But the adventurous diver can find The Sunken Fleet of 1758 a mile north of Million Dollar Beach on the east side of the lake.
Divers looking for an advanced challenge, Lake George also features the historic Land Tortoise Underwater Preserve Site. Similar to the site dedicated to The Sunken Fleet of 1758, the Land Tortoise is another sunken ship from the French and Indian War. Unlike the Sunken Fleet, which is a collection of bateaux, the Land Tortoise is a preserved radeau. French for raft, radeaux were used as floating gunship for the British armies during the conflict.
Though an original radeau, the Land Tortoise was never fully commissioned for use. It was still missing its masts and artillery, before the British deliberately sank the vessel in 1758. Until surveyor teams found the wreckage of The Land Tortoise in 1990, historians were not aware it was at the bottom of Lake George. Considered by the Smithsonian Institute as “the oldest intact war vessel in North America,” The Land Tortoise Radeau can be found near the South Basin of Lake George.
Lake George’s proximity to Malta and Saratoga Springs makes it an ideal attraction for families or visitors looking for a relaxing summer day at the lake. This now includes a developing and vibrant scuba diving scene.