Our May presenter was Dan Ryterband, who delivered a wonderful talk on “Mails via Lake Champlain.” His exhibit demonstrated the various ways mails transmitted by water evolved prior to 1870 on this important lake, which was the major communication link between Montreal, Canada and the eastern U.S.
Dan’s exhibit was divided into three sections: the Prologue (1759 to 1817); the Steamboat era (1817 to 1870); and the Route Agent Service (1849 to 1870). One of the highlights included the earliest reported letter with a postal marking indicating carriage by water. There were also many examples of folded letters with the straightline Whitehall, NY marking.
A fair number of items showed markings of the steamboat Franklin, which had the first name-of-boat marking used on an inland waterway, Steam-Packet Franklin. The exhibit showed both the earliest and latest use of this scarce marking.
Other highlights included: earliest reported letter written on board a steamboat on Lake Champlain; earliest reported ship postmark for this lake; earliest reported use of the Burlington “Steam Boat” marking; and the earliest reported use of a Lake Champlain steamboat route agent marking.