'Ahoy, Matey!': When Kid Pirates Sailed On Lake Champlain

Aug 3, 2017

During the Great Depression a pirate ship and its crew sailed around Lake Champlain, hoisting the Jolly Roger while anchored just off the shore of Plattsburgh and even making its way up the river to Montreal.

Bret Corbin from South Hero is the author of The Pirates of Dingley Dell: A True Swashbuckling Adventure at a Vermont Boys' Camp, and Corbin shared this nautical history that you've probably never heard of with Vermont Edition.

The 75-foot pirate ship, Aladdin, was built in eight weeks by teenage campers at Adventurers Camp in South Hero. The camp was founded by Francis Baker, who was the chief engineer on the pilot plant of the Manhattan Project.

The ship carried young buccaneers around Lake Champlain from 1929 to 1939. As World War II approached though, the camp closed and the ship sat on the rocks on shore for the the next 20 years. An unexplained fire destroyed it in 1960.

Corbin says that while it was beached for those two decades it caught the attention of passing boats.

"The steamer Ticonderoga would go by in the night and they would put their spotlight on the pirate ship and they would do a little monologue about all the adventures the kids had," Corbin says.

Almost eight decades after it closed, Corbin says the camp and some of its building still remain. 

Listen to the interview with Corbin above. Broadcast on Vermont Edition on Thursday, Aug. 3, 2017 during the noon hour; rebroadcast during the 7 p.m. hour.