Archaeologists Find 1,200-Year-Old Canoe In Wisconsin Lake

A 1,200-year-old canoe pulled from a lake in Wisconsin on Nov. 2 may be the oldest completely intact water vessel known in the state, according to the Wisconsin Historical Society.

Wisconsin Historical Society maritime archaeologists recovered the historic dugout wood canoe from the bottom of Lake Mendota, officials say. Officials say the vessel is 1,200 years old and was in use around A.D. 800, centuries before European arrival.

The canoe was raised from a depth of 30 feet with the help of the Dane County Sheriff’s Office dive team, only a few months after learning of its existence in June.

“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. “By taking action today to preserve this canoe we are protecting a piece of history for future generations. 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.”

Officials say the canoe was transported to Wisconsin’s State Archive Preservation Facility and placed into a custom-built storage vat containing water and a bio-deterrent to protect the canoe from physical deterioration.

“Over time, a chemical solution will be added to the vat which will eventually replace the water in the cellular structure of the wood,” the Wisconsin Historical Society said. “The preservation process is estimated to take approximately (three) years.”

According to officials, the canoe will help to learn more about the history of Dejope (Four Lakes) and its residents from 1,200 years ago.

By TMJ4 Web Staff