The General Butler was built in 1862 at Essex, NY which hosted one of the most prominent shipyards on the lake. Many sailing canal boats were built there (ibid, 155). By this time, sailing canal boats were beginning to lose popularity due to the advent of transportation by steam ships and the development of railroads on the western shore of the lake. However, the first owners of the General Butler profited so much from their investment that they sold the boat in three years. This can be attributed to the fact that sailing canal boats still offered the fastest mode of commercial transportation from the lake to New York, so there was still a niche market for fast transportation, especially during the Civil War (ibid, 156). Its final owner, William Montgomery, was an independent boat driver and transported marble, wood, coal, potatoes, apples, and hay from the lake to and from Canada and New York (General Butler, 13). Most sailing canal boats on the lake were operated by independent boat drivers who collectively transported marble, lumber, iron, leather, crops, maple syrup, minerals, lead, livestock, and wool. Most rock, except marble, came from the Adirondack side of the lake (The Lake Champlain Sailing Canal Boat, 53).