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National Rivers Hall of Fame Inductees

Hall of Fame inductees are the pioneers, explorers and artists in America's river history. They were movers and shakers from the days gone by and the recent past. These men and women made significant contributions related to America’s rivers, which is why we honor them.


The Pathfinders

Samuel de Champlain

Inducted in 2015

Samuel de Champlain was one of the significant navigators, cartographers, and explorers of America’s rivers. In addition, he was a talented geographer, ethnologist, diplomat, and chronicler. 

From 1601 to 1603 Champlain served as a geographer in the French court of King Henry.  He learned much from the fishermen that traveled seasonally to North America to harvest on the rich fishing ground there.

In 1603, while still a young man, Champlain sailed to North America himself. He created a map of the St. Lawrence River, publishing an account of his travels.  As early as 1603, he accurately predicted that the ultimate exploration of North America would mainly be by rivers, He prophetically wrote, “with the canoes of the [Indians] one may travel freely and quickly throughout the country, as well up the little rivers as up the large ones. So that . . . a man may see all that is to be seen.”

Champlain explored the North American coast as far south as Cape Cod, searching for sites for a permanent settlement. In 1608, he established the settlement that is now Quebec City

In 1609 he became the first European to partially explore and describe the Great Lakes He also was the first to map and describe what was eventually named Lake Champlain, a  long, narrow lake situated between the Green Mountains of present-day Vermont and the Adirondack Mountains of present-day New York.

Champlain established trading companies that sent furs and other goods to France and oversaw the growth of New France in the St. Lawrence River valley until his death in 1635. Many sites and landmarks have been named to honor him and he remains to this day a prominent historical figure in New York, Vermont, Acadia, Ontario, and Quebec.