Gunboat Philadelphia

Gunboat Philadelphia

On View 3 East

The Gunboat Philadelphia exhibition has been reinterpreted and updated to include its recovery in 1935, a history of its display at Lake Champlain as well as early preservation and acquisition by the museum. This exhibition includes historical video footage of the raising of the Philadelphia from Lake Champlain accompanied by an interpretive cart that provides hands-on experience with preservation needs. Painted scrims provide the visitor with a simulated visual sense of the “underwater” space of the Philadelphia. New cases will display artifacts that were recovered with the gunboat as well as the crew payroll. 

About the Gunboat

In October 1776, American troops in a ragtag collection of newly built boats faced an advancing line of British ships on Lake Champlain in New York. The Americans, under the command of Benedict Arnold, were forced to retreat, but not before they fought the British to a standstill. One of the American vessels, the Philadelphia, sank during the battle and rested on the bottom of the lake until 1935. It was recovered that year with much of its equipment intact and came to the Museum in 1964, complete with the 24-pound ball that sent the gunboat to the bottom.
Learn more about the Philadelphia.

3D Digitization of the Gunboat

Watch on YouTube

Explore the 3D model or see an interactive tour of the gunboat below:



The Museum gratefully acknowledges the generous donors whose support made preservation of the gunboat Philadelphia possible.


LOGO: Americana Corner, Preserving America Grant


Robert and Lynne Uhler


Ted and Marian Craver 
David C. Frederick and Sophia Lynn
Elizabeth and Whitney MacMillan 
Randall and Yvette Martinez 
The Merrill Family Foundation
Barry and Wendy Meyer 
John R. Monsky and Jennifer Weis Monsky 
Paul Neely 
Abbe Raven and Martin Tackel
The Honorable John F.W. Rogers and Ms. Deborah M. Lehr
Nina and Ivan Selin 
Andrew and Anya Shiva
Ambassador Nicholas F. Taubman and Mrs. Eugenia L. Taubman
Sue Van | Wallace H. Coulter Foundation
Donald and Linda Winter
National Museum of American History Board in honor of former Director John L. Gray


The preservation of the gunboat Philadelphia is being supported in part by a Save America’s Treasures grant from the Historic Preservation Fund administered by the National Park Service, Department of the Interior.