Wisconsin Lake Yields A 1200-Year-Old Canoe

The canoe, pulled from Lake Mendota, is believed to be from A.D. 800.

It’s always interesting when we find something old. Perhaps it is something that we lost several years ago. Then again, there are times when things are found that are thousands of years old, and that is interesting, indeed.

Officials are saying that an old canoe pulled from a Wisconsin lake is from about A.D. 800. The canoe, which was found on November 2, was discovered at the bottom of Lake Mendota.

Photo: Max Pixel

It seems as if the canoe is now the oldest intact water vessel ever found in the state of Wisconsin. It was in use hundreds of years before Europeans arrived.

They knew about the canoe starting in June but it was only recently that it was able to be raised from 30 feet deep. The dive team with the Dane County Sheriff’s office was able to help with bringing it to the surface, which the Wisconsin Historical Society shared about on Facebook:


According to the Ruth and Hartley Barker Director & CEO for the Wisconsin Historical Society, Christian Overland, it is a significant find associated with canoe culture in the Great Lakes region. By preserving the canoe, they are helping to protect history for generations to come.

He went on to say: “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.”


After being pulled from the lake, the canoe was taken to the Wisconsin State archive preservation facility. It was placed back in the water in a special storage vat that contains a bio deterrent to protect the canoe from deterioration.

Additional chemical solutions will be added to the vat that will eventually completely replace the water inside of the wood. According to the Wisconsin Historical Society, it takes about three years for the process to be complete.