Research


The Museum's great model of the topsail schooner Arrowsic, by Roger Hambidge

This Museum has a great collection of ship models – hundreds of them. Nothing is better for showing people what ships looked like, when the ships themselves are not around.  However, there are many significant vessels which are not represented, and therefore the public has no opportunity to see what the vessel looked like, except through two-dimensional photographs and drawings. Below, in chronological order, is my wish list of models that would be great to have.

1607-1608: pinnace Virginia, built at the Popham Colony – specifically, what she looked like according to the latest research done for Maine’s First Ship. Also, it should be made to the same scale as our current model of this vessel, which was based on 1957 research.

1777: sloop-of-war Ranger, built at Kittery, commanded by Capt. John Paul Jones.

1779: any of the vessels from the Penobscot Expedition or the British fleet which opposed it.

1813: privateer Dash, built at Freeport

1813: both of the brigs USS Enterprize and HMS Boxer

1830ish: any of the early steamers from the Penoscot or Kennebec Rivers or Casco Bay

1841: ship Rappahannock, built at Bath, the largest merchant vessel built up to that time in the U.S.

1851: clipper ship Nightingale, built at Kittery

1852: clipper ship Carrier Pigeon, built at Bath

1853: clipper ship Red Jacket, built at Rockland

1853: clipper ship Flying Scud, built at Damariscotta

1862-1864: either of the gunboats built in Bath for the Civil War, USS Katahdin or USS Iosco

1874: four-mast bark Ocean King, built at Kennebunk

1879: steam bark Mary & Helen, built at Bath, first steam whaler built in the U.S.

1880: four-mast schooner William L. White, first four-mast schooner built on the East Coast

1884: three-mast schooner Bradford C. French, built at Kennebunk, the largest three-mast schooner

1885: steam mackerel seiner Novelty, built at Kennebunkport, the first steam vessel used in the New England offshore fisheries.

1888: five-mast schooner Gov. Ames, built at Waldoboro, the first five-mast schooner built on the East Coast

1892: four-mast bark Roanoke, built at Bath, the largest wooden square-rigger ever used in the U.S.

1892: four-mast jackass bark Olympic, built at Bath, only vessel of this rig to be built.

1893: gunboat USS Machias, first steel vessel to be built in Maine, first hull built by Bath Iron Works.

1894: four-mast bark Dirigo, built at Bath, first steel sailing vessel built in the U.S.

1894: four-mast schooner Charles P. Notman, built at Bath, first vessel built by the shipbuilding partnership of Percy & Small

1898: battleship Maine – not built in Maine, but still interesting.

1898: Naval training ship Chesapeake, built at Bath, last steel full-rigged ship built in the U.S.

1900: six-mast schooner George W. Wells, built at Camden, the first six-mast schooner built on the East Coast

1903: five-mast schooner Kineo, the only steel five-mast schooner built

1905: steam schooner Roosevelt, built at Verona Island for Commander Robert Peary’s arctic explorations.

1919: destroyer USS Buchanan, DD-131, built at Bath, went to the Royal Navy in 1940 and became famous as HMS Campbelton.

1931: diesel yacht Aras, built at Bath Iron Works – perhaps this one should be modeled as she looked when used as the presidential yacht Williamsburg

1942: destroyer O’Bannon, DD-450, built at Bath, significant World War II vessel

1944: destroyer Laffey, DD-724, built at Bath, famous in World War II as “the Ship That Would Not Die.”

1944: destroyer Maddox, DD731, built at Bath, involved in the Gulf of Tonkin incidents that escalated the Vietnam conflict in 1964.

1978: container vessel Maui, built at Bath, largest vessel yet built in Maine

There are some other, less specific desires. We have fewer steamer models in general, and wouldn’t mind having more models of Maine-related steamers. There are lots of service-type vessels that we could use models of – barges, scows, dredges, gundalows, tugs, lighters, etc. There are many fishing vessel types that could be better represented in our collection. There are lots of vessels built at Bath Iron Works, New England Shipbuilding Corporation, or other 20th century Maine yards that would be good to have models of. One of Murray Peterson’s Coaster designs would be great, and other Maine yacht designs, I am sure.

Now, I have left a lot of important vessels off this list, because we do already have models of them. However, if you are interested in making a model for the Museum of a vessel I have not included, just contact me and we can discuss it. If you simply want to suggest an addition to the list, that would be great, too.

If you do want to make one of these models for the Museum, please talk to me about research, scale, and other standards. I would love to chat about it.

This is part of a timeline of significant events and important vessels of Maine maritime history. This first bit covers up through 1800. There are several more sections to come.

 

Maine Maritime Timeline

 ca. 10,000 BC – ca. 1500 AD: Native Americans became skilled at using Maine’s maritime resources.  They caught and ate many species of fish, shellfish, and crustaceans, as well as porpoises and whales.  They designed and built dugout canoes and bark canoes which were extremely well-adapted to local use, and were capable of lengthy coastal voyages.

1604-1605:A French expedition with Samuel de Champlain explored both the Penobscot and Kennebec Rivers and much of the coast, making the first real charts of parts of the Maine coast and wintering on St. Croix Island in the St. Croix River.

1605:  English captain George Weymouth explored part of the coast, and kidnapped five Natives.

1607-1608:A short-lived English colony was established by Plymouth Company at what is now Popham Beach, at the mouth of the Kennebec River. A shipwright named Digby built the pinnace Virginia there.  This 30-ton vessel was the first ocean-going vessel built by English colonists on the mainland of the New World, and the first European-style vessel built in Maine.

Circa 1650:Clark & Lake settlement on Arrowsic Island established a shipyard.

1669-1673:Woolwich-born William Phipps (later Sir William, the first native-born Royal Governor of Massachusetts) served his shipbuilding apprenticeship at the Clark & Lake shipyard on Arrowsic Island.

1676:A large ship nearly completed by William Phipps at his shipyard in Montsweag carried Sheepscot settlers to safety in Boston at the outbreak of King Philip’s War.

1695: H.M.S. Falkland (Fourth Rate, 2-decker) built at Kittery.

1775:Benedict Arnold’s army passed up the Kennebec River to attack the British at Quebec, buying a fleet of bateaux (220 of them) from boatbuilder Reuben Colburn at Pittston.

1777: John Paul Jones’s Ranger (a corvette) built at Kittery.

1779:The amphibious Penobscot Expedition, the largest of the Revolution, was assembled to attack the British fort at Castine, but failed.  All the Patriots’ vessels – about 39 – were sunk, captured, or destroyed by their crews to avoid capture. One of these wrecks – Defense – was investigated by archaeologists in the 1970s.

1800:First government shipyard set up at Kittery by the Navy, called Portsmouth Naval Shipyard.

Captain George Weymouth's vessel Archangel on the Maine coast in 1605

 Last fall I was sailing on the Maine-built schooner Heritage (many thanks to Captains Doug and Linda Lee!) among the islands of Merchant Row, south of Deer Isle. We sailed past one of the larger islands, McGlathery, and it made me think, as it always does, of the wreck of the three-mast Rockland schooner Wawenock. McGlathery supported a number of families at one time, enough for the town of Deer Isle to establish a school there in the 1840s, and to fill a sad little graveyard with victims of the 1873 diphtheria epidemic. No one lives there now, most of the gravestones have been pilfered, and you won’t even be able to see much of the wreck unless you are there at low tide and know just where to look. But I find it an evocative place, and it reminded me that the Museum had recently received a batch of photographs of the wreck, taken by Captain Roswell F. Eaton.

The story of the wreck is well told in Bertram G. Snow’s The Main Beam, published in 2005 by the Rockland Historical Society with massive contributions of research and photographs by Doug and Linda Lee. The 325-ton Wawenock was loaded with granite curbing stone and was sailing from Sullivan, Maine, towards New York in December of 1928. After temporarily snagging on a ledge in Jericho Bay on the 30th, Capt. Anders Anderson stayed in the area, waiting for better weather. The morning of January 10th, anchored east of Isle au Haut, the crew woke to a southeast snow storm, blowing hard. Capt. Anderson decided to raise the anchor and sailed up the Bay in extremely poor visibility. The schooner struck the ledges on the west side of Fog Island and the men could hear water pouring into the vessel. Not waiting for the captain’s orders, the crew lowered the yawl boat and left the schooner. Soon after, the vessel (still under full sail) freed herself from the ledge and continued on her way, with the yawl boat following. Eventually the crew could see that the schooner had run on the rocks on McGlathery Island, and they continued on to Stonington to report. The next day Captain John I. Snow, representing owners I.L. Snow & Co., arrived to survey the situation with the tug Sommers R. Smith, coming to the conclusion that the schooner (uninsured) was a total loss. Soon after, the Rockland steam lighter Sophia, a small powerhouse of the midcoast region, came to McGlathery to salvage the cargo (insured) of granite curb stones, the Wawenock’s masts and other gear.

Captain Roswell (Ross) F. Eaton is a man I associate with steamers and tugs, although he did command the Rockland schooner Lucy R. in the 1920s, and during World War I he was a naval reserve lieutenant in command of the USS Satilla, a George Lawley-built steam yacht purchased by the Navy and used as a mid-coast Maine patrol vessel. Born in Brooklin, Maine, in 1887, he married Sadie Burns at Brooklin in 1908, and died in Rockland in 1976. His scrapbooks and photograph albums are filled with images of his travels all over North and South America, and into the Pacific islands. He took many of the pictures himself, documenting vessels he served on and men he served with, as well as the places he visited. Whether he is connected with the Eatons who were the largest family on McGlathery, I do not know. No one lived on McGlathery at the time of the wreck, in any case.

 Captain Eaton may have worked aboard Sophia in some capacity, for his pictures show that he was aboard her when she was working on the Wawenock. However, he obviously had the freedom to be taking pictures instead of working, including pictures taken from ashore on the island.

 

Capt. Eaton’s view of the wrecked Wawenock with the wooded shore of McGlathery behind. Curbstones can be seen scattered about the deck, and unfurled sails droop. You can see the unusual forward house built into the raised forecastle deck, combining space for steam hoisting engine, galley, crew’s quarters, windlass and other functions all in one. You can see the boiler uptake and stack for the donkey engine to the right of the foremast, and the open hatch over the galley stove to the left. The door to the left of the house probably goes forward to the crew’s forecastle.

 

Capt. Eaton’s view of the Wawenock’s stern. The main and spanker sails and their spars were removed by the storm. The little coach house to starboard of the mizzen is still there, but the afterhouse to which it used to provide access is gone.

 

The curbstones on deck are now removed, and men are working at clearing the sails out of the way, to provide better access to the forward hatch. To port of the foremast you can see the galley hatch and stack clearly.

 

Capt. Eaton took this shot showing the Sophia near the Wawenock. The sails have been removed and the decks cleared, but from the attitudes of the men on deck, we deduce that the Sophia is arriving for another day’s work, rather than leaving after the first day.

 

One of the joys of our collection is its depth – Ross Eaton was not the only one to record the history of the Wawenock. In the photograph collection of Capt. W. J. Lewis Parker, bequeathed to MMM in 2006, we find many pictures of the schooner, including this one of the steam lighter Sophia alongside. Lew obtained it from Florence Snow.

 

And finally, a much more joyous picture of Wawenock, doing what she was designed to do. This is from a glass negative taken by Captain Frank A. Wilson, also in the Museum’s collection.

Actor William Boyd (later Hopalong Cassidy) at the wheel of the 1876 ship Indiana

So, this is the sort of thing that occupies the minds of curators. On pages 164 and 165 of Live Yankees: The Sewalls and their Ships, William H. Bunting shows three photographs of captains and other folk at the wheels of different Sewall ships. These photos, all from the collection of the late and lamented friend of the Museum Andrew Nesdall, taught me that the Sewalls had a particular style of steering wheel for their vessels. The wooden structure of each wheel was inlaid with cut-outs of stars and explosions of shooting stars, probably made of brass.

Captain William Gould (right) at the wheel of the 1877 ship Challenger, looking aft, with his son-in-law Captain Robert Tapley. In the original photo, it is clear that the wheel has the same pattern.

Captain Youngren and daughter at the wheel of the 1874 ship Oriental (after it had been made into a bark). In the original photo, you can see a hint of the same shooting star pattern on the wheel.

Seeing these pictures also brought to mind a picture of a similar wheel I had seen long ago. The picture was taken in 1964 by Cecil W. Stoughton, and it shows Philippine President Marcos presenting to President Lyndon B. Johnson the remains of the Bath-built steel bark Kaiulani, which had been laid up in the Philippines since World War II. They are in the White House in the picture, and the hull of the bark never left the Philippines (not to kill the suspense), but they are surrounded with artifacts – there is a painting, a model, and, behind LBJ, there is a ship’s wheel with the stars. The Kaiulani was one of the last vessels built by the Sewall shipyard (1900), and the wheel in the picture looks like one of the earlier Sewall wheels.

President Marcos and President Lyndon B. Johnson discuss the future of the steel bark Kaiulani. The shooting star pattern can be clearly seen in the original photo.

Now we come to the puzzle. Here is another photograph, brought to my attention by volunteer Peter Upton and taken in 1979 by Nicholas Dean of North Edgecomb, Maine, in Port Stanley in the Falkland Islands. Nick was there as part of a team researching the many sailing vessels and their bits and pieces which have fetched up in the Falklands, failing in their attempts to round Cape Horn. This picture was taken inside an old warehouse, reputedly built from timbers of the Bath-built ship John R. Kelley, run aground in the Falklands in 1899. The warehouse contained fragments of a number of vessels and their cargoes, but people there identified this wheel and pair of companionway doors as also coming from the ship John R. Kelley. That wheel has the identical decorations as the other Sewall wheels. Here’s the thing – the John R. Kelley was not built by the Sewalls.

Is this wheel truly from the ship John R. Kelley? 1979 Nicholas Dean photo.

We have not been able to figure this out, yet. There may have been a guy in Bath who made these wheels and sold them to different shipyards. Or perhaps the Sewalls had a vessel which ended up in the Falklands, and for some reason its wheel was placed in the warehouse and later mis-identified as coming from the John R. Kelley. People do make mistakes.

Perhaps we can locate the Kaiulani wheel, if that is what it is, and maybe that will tell us something. Work continues.

At the end of September, David Etnier gave the Museum an interesting stone artifact about 4 feet in diameter, one of several he has found in Old Cove, Harpswell.

Somewhere, I have read a description of how these were used, and someday I will find that description again. It involves a tree trunk or pole being driven through the hole in the stone. When the stone is set in not-very-deep water, the pole sticks up out of the water enough to tie a boat to. The attachment that the boat’s mooring line is actually tied to is made of wood, so that it floats up and down the pole, with the tide.

As reported in the latest Harpswell Anchor, fisherman and fishseller Dain Allen has more complete memories. He has a similar stone which formerly belonged to his grandfather. The local name for the system was a spar mooring, implying that the pole was more carefully shaped than I suggested above.  Mr. Allen says that the spar was inserted through the hole in the stone, and pinned in place with about two feet of spar sticking out beneath the stone. The great weight of the stone would drive this protruding tip of the spar down into the bottom mud, making the mooring more secure. His grandfather used the spar mooring close to shore, as a haul-off or out-haul. A loop of line ran from shore out through a block (pulley) on the spar and back to shore; the boat was tied to that line, and could be pulled in to shore when needed.

I found this illustration of boats riding at stake (spar?) moorings in Fish and Men in the Maine Islands by W. H. Bishop, published by Harpers & Brothers in 1885. Neither the system of stake moorings nor this picture is described in the text of the book, but the implication is that this shows a harbor in Maine which uses this form of mooring for a batch of similar-looking fishing boats. Each stake has a board or stick attached near its upper end; perhaps this is to keep the floating attachment point from coming off the top at an extreme high tide or unusual swell situation. Still looking for more information, but I thought this was an interesting bit of historical trivia. Doesn’t seem trivial when you try to lift the stone.